The US Embassy near Monrovia is urging ruling Unity Party (UP) and opposition Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) to focus on the pending runoff which has been stalled by allegations of fraud and irregularities.


"The U.S. Embassy urges the top two finishers, who collectively received the support of two-thirds of Liberian voters, to focus on constructively engaging each other and voters as they prepare to compete in the runoff," a statement issued Wednesday, 15 November says.

The Embassy has expressed confidence in the integrity of the October 10 elections, saying, that no accredited Liberian, regional, or international observation group suggested that the cumulative anomalies observed reflect systemic issues sufficient to undermine the fundamental integrity of the electoral process.

"Where issues were identified in the first round of voting, we urge the National Elections Commission (NEC) to undertake corrective actions before, during, and after the runoff election," the US Embassy says.

The US expresses appreciation that parties are availing themselves of the legal right to dispute resolution, but notes that with rights come with responsibilities.

The US adds that disputes and litigation should be initiated and conducted in good faith by the claimants, the NEC, and if needed, the Supreme Court, in an expeditious manner to permit the timely conclusion of Liberia’s electoral process and a peaceful transition.

The U.S. Embassy in Monrovia says it was inspired by 1.5 million Liberians who expressed their commitment to and faith in democracy by voting in the October 10 elections. It underscores the importance of a peaceful transfer of power to a new democratically-elected president in January, as reflected in Liberia’s Constitution.

It calls on Liberia’s political leaders to take their cue from the citizens who waited patiently to vote and did so with respect for their fellow citizens, regardless of political views.

The US warns that efforts by any actors to impede the expressed will of Liberia’s people for personal ambition could risk goodwill and future investments in Liberia by international partners.

It says the Liberian people and the international community have worked too hard and invested too much to watch Liberia’s progress stall. "The United States remains committed to Liberia’s future and encourages Liberians to conclude the presidential electoral process as soon as possible to allow Liberia’s democratic and economic progress to continue," it concludes.

 

Partial view representatives of 26 African countries n Liberia attending a three-day Capacity Building Workshop of July 26-28 in Monrovia Representatives of 26 African countries are in Liberia attending a three-day Capacity Building Workshop for the third edition of the African Tax Administration Forum (ATAF) Tax Outlook Publication.


According to a press release, the three-day workshop, being hosted by the Liberia Revenue Authority (LRA) is highlighting means of improving cross-country comparison and benchmarking comparable data on tax policies and tax administration and related legislations, among others.

The gathering seeks to provide analysis of tax data trends and identify good practices as well as understanding of the Tax Outlook Publication data collection processes. Addressing the opening session on Wednesday, LRA Commissioner General Elfrieda Stewart Tamba describes the workshop as a critical milestone of the African journey in providing high quality and reliable statistical data on tax administration covering the continent.

She praises ATAF for spearheading such initiative, noting that it will further enhance the collection and compilation of accurate tax data in Africa. The LRA boss also points out that the hosting of the workshop in Liberia demonstrates the importance of statistics in tax administrations and the vital role it plays in informing public policy decision.

She urges participants to dedicate their attentions in acquiring the requisite skills with the aim to improve the level of revenue collection across the Africa region. For her part, the Director of Research of ATAF, Dr. Nara Monkam, indicates that the training is aimed at enhancing revenue administration in the region through knowledge and experience sharing and comparison analysis.

She notes that the event is also a means of preparing for the third African Outlook Publication, which highlights factual and evidence-based statistics on all tax related matters on the African continent. The workshop will climax with the tour of the LRA Headquarters on Friday, January 28, in Paynesville. Press Release

The Former President of Queensland African Communities Council (QACC) in Australia and current Head of Gravis Global Invest: African Engagement, Development, Investment and Trade at Gravis Insights Australia Amb. Bobby Whitfield says a Liberian Community of over 10,000 population in Australia is overwhelmingly supporting opposition Coalition for Democratic Change CDC) presidential candidate Sen. George Manneh Weah.


Amb. Whitfield, also former President of the Federation of Liberian Communities in Australia (FOLICA) and former Board Member of the Refugee Council of Australia (RCOA) made the disclosure over the weekend when he visited the Center for the Exchange of Intellectual Opinion (CEIO) on Carey Street in Central Monrovia.

According to him, he has met with key members of the Australian Parliament and stakeholders in australia, where favorable discussions were held to render the CDC-led administration the needed assistance aimed at buttressing the party’s efforts to deliver on its platform to the Liberian people.

According to Whitfield, he has also been part of advocacy efforts in Australian that have yielded great results including the increase in scholarship slots for Liberian students in the country.

He notes further that it was under FOLICA’s instrumentality that the Australian Parliament was convinced to have the country’s Prime Minister donate US$44m to the global efforts in combating the deadly Ebola epidemic that ravaged the country.

Whitfield believes that a CDC-led government under the stewardship of Sen. Weah will attract more tourism and investment opportunities from Australia to Liberia, saying the CDC leader has shown immense sense of leadership over the past years both in his soccer career and his political endeavors.

Amb Whitfield pointed out that a CDC- led government will stamp out corruption; a menace he says has contributed to the country’s backwardness and places Liberia once more as “the bridgehead of Africa.”

Meanwhile, Amb. Whitfield has called on ruling Unity Party (UP) to stop instilling fears and initiating a native and congo debate which according to him have the propensity to ignite class crisis in the country.

He says the pending runoff election should be taken as an advantageous moment for stakeholders and political actors to place the country back on the right trajectory for the younger generation. Note that this Article have been revived.
By Lewis S. Teh--Edited by Winston W. Parley

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The National Elections Commission (NEC) has submitted a flash drive that it says contains used ballots and sample ballots (Know Your Candidate Posters) to the Hearing Officer at the ongoing elections fraud and irregularities hearing at the NEC based on a request by ruling Unity Party (UP).


NEC Executive Director Lami Lighe who took the stands while making the presentation took the time to explain the serial number issue which has been one of the major contentions raised by the aggrieved political parties crying foul.

Lighe said each ballot paper has a serial number which is attached to the ballot stock, so once the ballot paper is detached from the ballot booklet, the serial number remains on the stock to protect the voters’ secrecy as require by the constitution.

He argues that this is a universal best practice because if the serial number remains on the detachable part of the ballot the presiding officer would know the serial number if he or she issues a ballot paper. He further says if counting is being done, the officer can identify that ballot paper and know who that person voted for, in contravention of the constitution.

UP lawyers Cllr. Varney Sherman and Cllr. Benedict Sannoh requested the NEC to bring forth documents that include used ballots, know your candidate posters and flash drive containing the voters’ roll that was given to political parties sometimes in September this year as part of a litany of requests.

The initial complaint of irregularity was filed by opposition Liberty Party (LP) in challenge to the outcome of the 10 October polls that designates the UP and opposition Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) for a runoff election stalled by the ongoing case.

The Liberty in its complaint to the NEC alleged that there were fraud and irregularities in the October elections, and the LP claims are being backed by UP and other parties. During argument before the NEC Hearing Officer, Cllr. Sherman, a UP Senator for Grand Cape Mount County, made a request for the electoral house to bring forth sample of used ballots for both presidential and representatives candidates, and the flash drive containing the voters’ roll that was given to political parties in September by the NEC.

Meanwhile, following the submission, Cllr. Sherman has requested the Hearing Officer for extra two hours to review the flash drive given to them by the NEC to determine whether it contain the same content that were previous drive given to the parties in September.

After the two hours break the UP put up a witness but later asked for continuance, though the presiding officer was hesitant, but granted the UP request and insisted that it ensures that all its witnesses be exhausted at the next hearing.

By Lewis S. Teh--Edited by Winston W. Parley

The Ministry of Finance and Development Planning or MFDP has strongly rejected a local daily’s report of a potential US$41 million dollars deficit for the just ended fiscal year 2016/2017.


In a press statement issued here Thursday, 20 July the ministry ays its attention has been drawn to the Tuesday, July 18, 2017 Edition of the FrontPage Africa Newspaper in which the paper erroneously reported a potential US$41 million dollars deficit for the just ended 2016/2017 fiscal year, not on the basis of factual reporting, but on account of “reliable or financial experts.”

The release says the paper based its story on an unsubstantiated year-end fiscal reconciliation report of the consolidated account, indicating a wrong year-end revenue collection of US$522million and US$42 million as potential deficit; even though, the year-end expenditure estimate needed for accurately determining deficit or surplus was not mentioned.

The release claims the paper further suggested that the deficit could increase to US$50 million if US$4million payment for the Executive Mansion renovation and US$6million payment to George Haddad’s Prestige Motors were made, which it maintains, are all concoction of a “financial expert’s” imagination.
It explains that the Budget year FY16/17 successfully ended with a surplus of US$1.8 million brought forward to the FY17/18 budget, which has been approved by the Lower House and awaiting concurrence by the Upper House of the National Legislature.

According to the Ministry, Gross Revenue collected at end June 30th, 2017 is estimated at US$550.8 million, saying “This amount net of the ECOWAS Trade Levy of US$3.2 million brings the net revenue available to GoL at US$547.57 million. This fact contradicts FrontPage reported net revenue amount of US$522 million.”

The release further refutes allegation that Finance and Development Planning Minister Boimah Kamara has usurped the allotment functions of the Deputy Minister for Budget and Development Planning, and is not holding weekly Fiscal Management Team meetings with senior technicians regarding the formulation and execution of the national budget.

“In keeping with supervisory oversight of every department to ensure proper and accountable usage of tax payer money; it says, “Minister Kamara has instituted several reforms including the following:

The authorization of allotments to spending entities still remains a function of the Deputy Minister of Budget, but with the expressed approval of the Minister as provided under the PFM Act. The procedures for allotments, which are the first layer for authorizing, spending from the National Budget, have been revised to effectively minimize unauthorized allotments;

In tracking the execution of the national budget with respect to revenue performance and expenditure monitoring, the Minister still holds regular Fiscal Management Team (FMT) meetings with senior technicians of the MFDP and the Liberia Revenue Authority to discuss various fiscal reports and reconcile the financial position of the Government of Liberia. These meetings are in addition to regular Senior Management Team (SMT) meetings and general staff meetings aimed at cultivating a working culture that promotes team spirit and effectiveness.


The MFDP release says in the fight against corruption, the current management team is on record for improving systems and controls within the Ministry and taking punitive action against individuals caught in the act of misuse of entrusted public resources.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning encourages media entities to seek clarifications on news relating to government’s fiscal operations from relevant authorities within the MFDP before publications. The Ministry cautions against spreading false news, especially on fiscal operations of government because it has the propensity to undermine the economic viability of the State by scaring away potential investments and development assistance. Press Release