The United Bank for Africa (UBA) Liberia Limited has been named as the “Humanitarian Bank of the year 2014” for the role it continues to play in the fight against the Ebola virus disease (EVD).The honor was bestowed upon UBA by the International Learning Institute (ILI) and its subsidiary, Gender International Magazine Publication and Resource Center, at the Champions of the Year Annual Award 2014. The ceremony was held last Saturday at a local resort in Monrovia.Several personalities, institutions and groups were also honored for their outstanding contribution to the fight against the virus.“We are very grateful to be awarding UBA as the Humanitarian Bank of the Year, for standing by the Liberian people. This bank donated over US$400,000 to the national taskforce through the President, and also provided some logistics to enhance government’s efforts.”We have nothing to give you, UBA, but to recognize you in this public manner for your contributions. Only our good Lord will repay you for this generosity,” Chief organizer Mildred Dean said.UBA’s head of corporate communication and Services, Douglas M. V Jones, who received the award, noted that all of their contributions were not intended to win an award, but to demonstrate their corporate social responsibility to the government and the Liberian people.Mr. Jones said Ebola, like other natural disasters and pestilences, has no boundary, and as such, it was of more necessity for everyone, including UBA, to rally around government to defeat the virus.He noted that the bank began to get involved in the fight when its chairman, Tony Elumelu, decided to make donations to the three Ebola hot-spots, Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone, during the heat of the outbreak.“That was the time for us to do something to save the lives of our brothers and sisters that were dying on a daily basis,” he said.Mr. Jones noted that the bank was compelled to act because it was not only after banking profits but also the responsibility to look after humanity.“When the bank flourishes in good times, it should also be able to stand up in bad times and this is exactly what UBA was doing.”He also disclosed that UBA and the government have reached an agreement known as, ‘Social Corporate Compact.’ The agreement is to help in the post Ebola reconstruction process. The bank is wholeheartedly waiting to help in whatever way it is needed, he declared.UBA in November 2014 made an additional donation of US$300,000 to the Government of Liberia to help in the Ebola fight. This came after the UBA and its chairman had previously made several donations to the government and the National Taskforce.In September 2014, the bank also made an initial donation of a pick-up truck as logistical support to government’s efforts and promised to keep observing the situation and make additional donations when it became expedient.In her response, President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf termed the donation as reinforcement of good partnership between Liberia, the UBA and the Federal Republic of Nigeria, which she further described as “long standing partnership benefiting all sides.”She praised UBA’s strong commitment to Liberia’s recovery and assured the bank that its interventions in Liberia, especially in the Ebola fight, had had a great impact on Liberians.She reminded UBA’s top management of the post-Ebola reconstruction era as financial institutions partnering with Liberia will greatly be needed in this direction.UBA Liberia, which is a subsidiary of UBA Plc in Nigeria, was incorporated as a private limited liability company in October 10, 2006. Upon the formal launch of its first branch on Bushrod Island, the bank promised quality and professional services as well as a robust roll-out of branches throughout the country.UBA obtained its banking license from the Central Bank of Liberia (CBL) in July 2008. The chairman of the group is Tony Elumelu, who runs the group from its headquarters in Nigeria.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)
As Government embarks on its massive housing drive, it is looking to utilise the acres of land owned by the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo) that are no longer being used, as the industry is being restructured.This was disclosed by Minister of State, Joseph Harmon at last Thursday’s post-Cabinet press briefing.“One of the options that is available is for us to look at lands that had been used by GuySuCo that are no longer being planted with cane – for us to utilise those lands as well for housing and other forms of development,” he told reporters.Moreover, the State Minister indicated that the Administration would also be moving to repossess those large plots of lands granted to developers under the previous Administration which have not been in use.“Since we took office, I believe we had served notices to the owners of these lands and asked them, basically in relation to the contracts which they had, to activate the terms and conditions of those contracts. Once the time had expired and nothing was done significantly, then Government will enter into negotiations with these persons with a view of repossessing these lands for better use by the community… We believe it is not right for large plots of land to be lying idle while we are basically trying our best all-around to find lands for people,” he stated.Harmon noted, however, that any repossession would have to be done via due process. He added too that Government has learnt that some developers, who were given large tracts of lands to develop housing estates, were actually subdividing the lands then selling them as house lots at costs that were several times the value they paid for them. This practice, the Minister said, is something that Government will be looking into as well.Meanwhile, with Government embarking on several major housing projects, it is pushing the use of more local materials and contractors when doing construction work. Harmon told reporters that Guyana imported many foreign species of lumber when the country had a wide variety here to choose from.“…We want to encourage the use of the woods that we have here in Guyana… There are also some proposals to relook at the production of clay bricks and many of these things which really made us self-sufficient in some way; we’ll have to review these things, because we can’t just continue buying these products from abroad when in fact we have the facilities right here to do it,” Harmon posited.ConcessionsTo this end, the State Minister noted that Government would be introducing tax concessions to encourage the use of local materials. He went on to say that the thrust of the coalition Government was to not only provide house lots to Guyanese but to build houses to form communities, which would be the focus of its housing drive.Minister of State, Joseph HarmonOn the other hand, he added that the new housing project would be a partnership initiative with the Private Sector, the details of which would be included in a White Paper to be presented to the National Assembly.This Paper, the Minister said, will include the method of construction, which will focus more on indigenous materials and local contractors; the method of payment per unit, mortgages for recipients and criteria for allocation, and included also the issue of self-help programmes.The document will also address squatting as Government promises to regularise the practice throughout the various regions in Guyana.Moreover, the State Minister explained that the construction of duplexes and townhouses project which the Communities Ministry was embarking on would commence in the second quarter of this year in April. Government recognises that housing was one of the major issues affecting Guyanese and in order to address the issue, Harmon said the housing drive was being fast-tracked.Last September, the Communities Ministry disclosed that the construction of duplexes and townhouses, targeting Public Sector employees, youths and low-income earners, would be undertaken in order to push the development of local housing.These housing units will be constructed in Regions Two (Pomeroon-Supenaam); Three (Essequibo Islands-West Demerara); Four (Demerara-Mahaica); Five (Mahaica-Berbice); Six (East Berbice-Corentyne); Seven (Cuyuni-Mazaruni) and Region 10 (Upper Demerara-Upper Berbice) at a total cost of $5 billion, with each unit costing $5.4 million.