Daily Media Summary 2018-06-13

The Bureau of Public Affairs

Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Monrovia, Liberia

 

DAILY NEWS SUMMARY FOR WEDNESDAY, JUNE 13, 2018

 

The quest for the government to take more loans, the signing of tax and transparency instrument by the government of Liberia and the signing of the Eton and EMOMAF by Vice President Jewel Howard-Taylor are the dominant stories in today’s summary.

 

Dominant Stories 

Take More Loans… Legislature Mandates Weah

 

Despite huge criticismsfrom the opposition community and the public about two separate pre-financing road loans secured by the Government of Liberia, the House of Representatives and the Liberian Senate signed a joint resolution here Tuesday, 12 June mandating President George Manneh Weah to seek more loans from wherever that would enable the government to connect all 15 political sub-divisions of the country with roads. The joint resolution dated June 11, 2018 and adopted in plenary of the House of Representatives Tuesday, June 12, states: “We the House of Representatives and Senate do hereby authorize the President of the Republic of Liberia to employ all legal and legitimate means in securing loan financing agreements for the construction of paved roads leading to the 15 counties of Liberia.” The lawmakers used Article 34 (iii) of the 1986 Liberian Constitution which states: No loans shall be raised by the Government on behalf of the Republic or guarantees given for any public institutions or authority otherwise than by or under the authority of a legislative enactment, as their reliance in instructing President Weah to take more loans for road construction. The resolution shows that 48 of the 73 members of the House of signed, and the document is expected to be forwarded to the Liberian Senate tomorrow for similar action, according to the New Dawn newspaper.

Related Captions: Take More Loans (FrontPage Africa),More Loans For Roads…House Mandates President Weah Take An Extra US$1 Billion(Daily Observer), Borrow More Money…Lawmakers Mandate Weah (Heritage), Lawmakers Want Gov’t Secure More Loans(Inquirer)and More Loans’ – House of Representatives Resolution Mandates Executive Branch (In Profile Daily) 

VP Taylor Affixes Signature on Eton, EBOMAF Loan Agreements

 

Vice President Chief/Dr. Jewel Howard-Taylor has officially signed the Eton PLT Finance, Ltd. Loan and the EBOMAF Loan Agreement recently ratified by the Liberian Legislature. Recently, President George Manneh Weah placed before duly elected and accredited Representatives of the Liberia people, assembled in the First Session of the 54th Legislature, the two proposed agreements for the securing of much-needed funds to tackle the road challenge in the country. In her official capacity as President of the Senate, Vice President Howard-Taylor said she was affixing her signature to the two agreements which have the greatest potential to positively impact the lives of the Liberian people in all sectors. In a statement read at the signing of the agreements, VP Howard-Taylor according to a release from the VP’s office asserted that Liberia is on the verge of great transformation, pens the FrontPage Africa newspaper.

Related Captions: VP Taylor Signs Eton Finance, EBOMAF S.A. Contracts(Daily Observer)and Vice Pres. Taylor Affixes Signature To Loan Agreements(In Profile Daily) 

Liberia signs tax and transparency instrument

 

Liberia has signed the Multilateral Convention on Mutual Administrative Assistance in Tax Matters, making it the 122nd jurisdiction to join the world’s leading instrument for boosting transparency and combating cross-border tax evasion. According to a press release, the Convention is the most comprehensive multilateral instrument available for all forms of tax co-operation to tackle tax evasion and avoidance, which is a top priority for most tax jurisdictions. Finance and Development Planning Minister Samuel Tweah signed the instrument on behalf of the Liberian Government on Monday, June 11, 2018, in Paris, France, while the Deputy Secretary General of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), Masamichi Kono, signed for the OECD. The signing shows Liberia’s commitment to combating tax evasion, tax crime, aggressive tax planning initiatives by multinational enterprises, as well as other base erosion schemes, and places the Country in the position to fully benefit from the exchange of information with other jurisdictions with the proclivity of increase in tax transparency that the Convention offers. The Convention is the key instrument for swift implementation of the Standard for Automatic Exchange of Financial Account Information in Tax Matters, writes the New Dawn newspaper.

Related Captions: Liberia Signs Tax Convention At OECD(Inquirer)and Liberia Signs Tax Convention –As Finance Minister Tweah Pledges Adherence(In Profile Daily)

Other Stories 

SDPL Identifies with Muslim Communities

 

The Management of Sime Darby Liberia (SDPL) visits several mosques, donating food as a way of identifying with Muslim communities in the country. Muslims here are observing a month-long fast and prayers which is part of their religious obligations. The company distributed rice to both community dwellers and Muslims. The distribution was carried out in 20 communities in the concession areas. Making the distribution last week, Acting General Manager, Hj. Alikamal Abu Hassan said, “It is SDPL’s Corporate Social Responsibility to the Muslim communities within our operating areas.” He added that the company remains committed in addressing needs of people in whatever way possible, so as to better their lives. “It is our way of identifying and sharing with our Muslims communities within our concession areas. We believe that following this month-long process, it is about time that we recognize the efforts of these people because we believe in religious tolerance,” Hassan said. SDPL signed a 63-year concession agreement with the Liberian government for the development of oil palm and rubber. According to the agreement, the government is to help provide the land. But the company has not expanded beyond 10,000 hecters of land due to the slowness of government in providing the land. However, due to good relations with communities in Bomi and Grand Cape Mount counties, they are working closely with SDPL to ensure that it meets its target. This, citizens in the concession areas said cannot be done alone without support of central government, pens the New Dawn newspaper. 

Weah Gives 3 Years For All Roads

 

According to the New Dawn newspaper, Liberia’s President George Manneh Weah says there would be a three-year timeline for all roads earmarked to be completed here, after lawmakers approved two loans that his government secured from two private institutions in the tune of nearly a billion US Dollars. According to an Executive Mansion release issued Tuesday, 12 June following Mr. Weah’s two-day tour in Central Liberia, the president vows that he will not settle down for four years or more for the completion of roads that are under consideration for construction. Separately, the Legislature has rectified a US$420,810,000.00 loan secured from President Weah’s Burkinabe friend Mahamadou Bonkoungou’s engineering company EBOMAF SA to finance the design, construction, and supervision of 256.2km flexible road pavement corridors here. That loan is expected to finance the Somalia Drive, Kesselly Boulevard to Sinkor road project which is “16km,” and is expected in Northeastern Liberia to finance the Tappita, Zwedru Road which is “112”kms, the Toe Town to La Cote D’Ivoire, Ivory Coast road which is 10.2kms and the Zwedru to Greenville road which is 185.5kms. The agreement says the construction period shall be 36 months from the day of commencement which is three months after the deposit of the first tranche of the loan. The US$420,810,000.00 loan is in addition to a US$536m loan agreement with Singapore-based finance institution Eton to fund a coastal road project to construct 505.3 kilometers of paved roads connecting Buchanan to Cestos City, Greenville to Barclayville, and Barclayville to Sass Town. 

House Summons LNP, Transport- for Stopping Lawmaker’s Vehicle

 

The House of Representatives has summoned the Minister of Transport and the Inspector General of the Liberia National Police following a complaint by a it’s full plenary on Thursday, 14 June. The decision to summon the two officials comes from a complaint filed by River Gee County District #3 Rep. Francis Dopoh who claims he was stopped by officers of the transport officer allegedly acting under the instruction of the Minister of Transport and the Inspector General of Police. Mr. Dopoh complains that in this quest to ascertain as to the consciousness of the officer’s action, the officer allegedly mandated that the lawmaker get down and walk to the officer or else the vehicle would not leave. Rep Dopoh claims that he was dishonorably humiliated by the transport officer for half an hour even to the extent that a police officer with batch #3050 informed him that the vehicle was a representative’s with plate Rep. 72, reports the New Dawn newspaper. 

Police Arrest Notorious Armed Robber

 

The FrontPage Africa newspaper reports that Michael Sawoe, alias one-million, who is a notorious armed robber, has been arrested by officers of the Liberian National Police (LNP). It is said that Sawoe has carried out more than five robberies. Officers of the LNP’s Anti-robbery Unit arrested him Thursday, June 7, in the Pipeline Community. He is reportedly behind the robbery of over L$1,432,490 from the University of Liberia on December 11, 2016. On January 17, 2018, he also reportedly led an attack at a vehicle parking lot in the Pipeline Community. The accused placed the security guards on duty under gunpoint and took away five motorbikes and other properties. On April 5, 2018, during the early morning hours, the suspect along with accomplices led an armed robbery in Careysburg District and robbed God’s Willing Gas Station. During the robbery, victims Teah Bull and his wife were shot and the robbers took away L$600,000. Recounting the night of the incidence, Bull told this newspaper that between two and three a.m., on that day, the suspects shot on the door of his house. According to him, he and wife got wounded.

Related Caption: Police Arrest Notorious Arm Robbers(In Profile Daily) 

PPCC Boss Threatens to Prosecute Govt Officials Who Flout Procurement Law

 

The Public Procurement Concession Commission (PPCC) has vowed to prosecute any official of government who violates PPCC laws. The Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer of the PPCC, Dorbor Jallah, in an interview with FrontPage Africa said the commission will leave no stone unturned in its function and will turn individuals over to the Ministry of Justice and the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC) for prosecution. “We observed that some agencies and ministries continuously violate the law and with that, we will do what the law says, the law says such people should be turned over to the Ministry of Justice and the LACC for prosecution, and that’s exactly what we will do,” he said. He promised to take the prosecutorial aspect as the last action, saying, it is better to give early warning to avoid embarrassment. “That is why I am warning them now to desist and follow the PPCC laws to avoid being turn over to the Ministry of Justice and the LACC, so we want to admonish them and we want to take that prosecution as the last option, But we can work with them by bringing them into compliance where applicable to make the system work,” he said. He revealed details of a pending acquaintance workshop with all government ministries and agencies in the procurement sector to curtail the violation of the PPCC law, reports the FrontPage Africa newspaper.

EU, Others Speak on Issues Affecting Liberia’s Forestry Sector

The Joint Implementation Committee of the Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) that is expected to host its sixth sitting today, will bring together government officials and partners, particularly the European Union (EU) to look at critical issues affecting the country’s forestry sector, to include its proper governance. The VPA is a legally-binding bilateral trade agreement that aims to improve forest governance and promote trade in legal timber from Liberia to the EU. Additionally, it gives timber producing countries market access, not only to the EU, but to other markets that are looking for legal timber, writes the Daily Observer newspaper. 

Health Authorities Respond to Lassa Fever Outbreak

 

According to the FrontPage Africa newspaper, the National Public Health Institute of Liberia (NPHIL) in collaboration with the Ministry of Health (MoH) has responded to the Lassa fever outbreak in the country.  According to a release issued in Monrovia, cases of Lassa fever are on the increase in the Lassa belt (Bong, Nimba, and Grand Bassa Counties). Four new confirmed cases have been reported: from Bong (2), Grand Bassa (1) and Nimba (1) since the last outbreak in May, 2018. A blood specimen was collected and tested positive for Lassa fever on 4th-7th June 2018, at the National Public Health Reference Laboratory (NPHRL). The recent case from Nimba County was confirmed by the NPHRL on June 7. A total of 128 contacts, including 59 healthcare workers, have been line-listed and are being followed up. One case is currently undergoing treatment at Phebe Hospital in Gbarnga Bong County, while one has been discharged. Two deaths have been reported in this recent outbreak.

 

INCHR Begins Nationwide Research On Heath

The Independent National Commission of Liberia (INCHR) is conducting a country wide research to inform a thematic report on the right to health of the citizens and residents of Liberia. The right to health is a requirement under the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights for which the state should ensure that its provision is accessible, affordable, available and of quality. During the research, the INCHR will visits clinics, health centers and hospitals across the fifteen counties. The Independent National Commission of Liberia says it is taken aback by the 2018/2019 budgetary allocation. The INCHR says that the allocations as contained in the draft budget when executed will not only undermine integrity institutions from performing their duties but also stall the Pro-Poor Agenda. To this effect, the Commission is recommending a total revision of the draft budget for equitable allocation reflecting the government’s commitment to protecting and promoting human rights. Regarding the conduct of the Montserrado and Bong Counties Senatorial By-Elections, the INCHR is expressing concern. The INCHR says that the delay and continued back and forth discussion between the National Elections Commission and the Ministry of Finance is a flagrant slap on the face of the people right to political participation and representation. The Commission is therefore calling on the government to reasonably and timely support the process, reports the Daily Observer.

Fuller Foundation Hosts NHA Delegates

As part of the slum upgrade program of the Liberian government, delegates from the Liberia National Housing Authority (NHA) comprising of the managing director, Duannah Siryon and the technical assistant, Kollie Bombo, recently paid a 2-day working visit to the Fuller office in Nigeria. The reason for the visit was to discuss a collaborative partnership between the Liberian government and the Millard Fuller Foundation. Attending the meeting were the management team of MFF Housing, and the Shelter Afrique Resident Regional Representative & Regional Business Manager – Anglophone West Africa, Zachary Kenyatta Munene. Sam Odia, the CEO of Millard Fuller Foundation made a presentation of the MFF housing model, its aims, objectives, vision, and projects. During his presentation, Odia said: “If the houses you are building are not affordable to 50 percent of the population in that area, then you are not building affordable houses, pens the Daily Observer.

Sinoe Port War Wrecked Office, Renovated

The Administrative building of Samuel A. Ross Port of Greenville, Sinoe County, wrecked during the course of the civil war in Liberia, has resumed full operation after undergoing a renovation by the port management. According to the press release from Sinoe, the renovation has given the port a complete facelift and it also boosts the southern port’s momentum in line with the International Ship and Port Security (ISPS) compliance level 1 security code. At the dedication ceremony held on Monday, June 11, 2018 the port was overcrowded with residents of Greenville City, among them the resident Judge Geeplah Tiklo Konkon, who forced their way under the downpour of heavy rain, to witness the occasion, the release said. The Port Manager, Alex S. Noah, said the renovation work took the management two months before its’ completion and it is now ready to be used by the staff, reports the Daily Observer. 

LBS Management Lauds BBC For New Broadcast Equipment

 

The Liberia Broadcasting System (LBS) Chairman and Director General have been meeting with Senior British Broadcasting Corporation Editorial and Business Management Leaders in London to explore the possibility of furthering the existing partnership between the two Broadcast Houses. At the meeting with Information Minister Lenn Eugene Nagbe and LBS Ledgerhood Rennie the BBC expressed keen interest in further assisting the LBS with Technical Expertise when the System begins the process of digitizing its media outlets. This is in addition to a new batch of broadcasting equipment the BBC is currently installing at the LBS to bolster the system’s media platforms to rebroadcast BBC radio and television programs out of its multi-media Broadcasting House in London, reports the Heritage newspaper. 

Legislature Agrees Timeline For By-Elections

 

According to the Heritage newspaper, the National Legislature has adopted a resolution for the holding of the most contentious By-elections for Montserrado and Bong Counties. The Joint Resolution (LEG-003/2018) was adopted by the House of Representatives last week and concurred with by the Liberian Senate following minutes of deliberation on the issue. In their Joint Resolution, the lawmakers confirmed the holding of the much-publicized By-elections for the two counties (Bong and Montserrado) no later than July 31, 2018.

EPA Urges Lawmakers To Ratify Climate Change Agreement

The Environment Protection Agency (EPA) is urging the National Legislature to ratify the Paris Agreement on Climate Change adopted by consensus on December 12, 2015. According to an EPA release, a country which has not ratified the agreement including Liberia will be denied access at high level decision making, including accessibility to development funding from finance mechanisms serving the agreement. The document was adopted at the 21st Conference of the Parties (COP) of the United Nations Framework convention on climate change (UNFCCC) in Paris, France, pens theInquirer newspaper.