President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has ordered a full audit report of the Private Sector Development Initiative or PDSI at the Ministry of Finance on her desk in two weeks after reports of a loan bonanza among officials at the ministry.

The president’s request which was contained in a brief statement on Thursday 8 June follows ongoing preliminary audit of the Unit. The audit has revealed how officials at the ministry both past and present awarded to themselves loans in huge sums.

“We can say with a high degree of confidence that such a scheme set up at the PDSI is clearly a conflict of interest and will be dealt with by the full weight of the law.” Mrs. Sirleaf said Thursday.

The audit is said to cover the period 2014 to present and is being executed by the Internal Audit Agency.“Therefore, I have ordered the principal administrator of the program during the audit period, Commissioner of Maritime Affairs, Hon. James Kollie to return to Liberia from his official trip to assist in the audit and answer all of the issues associated with it, President Sirleaf directed.

A press statement issued by the Executive Mansion following the live reading of the President’s statement, said the preliminary audit has revealed some shocking outcome and results show that officials at the Ministry of Finance & Development Planning were making loans to themselves in violation of the law. “We remain seized of this matter and will leave no stone unturned in the interest of the nation.”Mrs. Sirleaf concluded.The preliminary audit was commissioned by Finance and Development Planning Minister Boimah Kamara.

-Othello B. Garblah

The House of Representatives has put a stop to all contracts between the Liberia Electricity Cooperation or LEC and Manitoba Hydro International or MHI until LEC and officials of the Ministry of Lands, Mines and Energy can appear before the House.

The House on Tuesday, 6 June summoned the energy sector here to provide reasons for negotiating another management agreement contract with MHI when investigation into alleged inconsistencies unearthed in its previous management of LEC is yet to be completed.

On Thursday, the Minister of Lands, Mines and Energy and the Board Chairman of LEC did not appear before the House, but rather sent their deputy to address issues raised by the House.

After introducing themselves to the House of Representatives on Thursday, Rep. Edwin M. Snowe said the issue of the LEC is very serious and that the House needs those responsible to appear and not the deputies.

As such, Rep. Snowe has suggested that the officials go back to their offices and return next Tuesday, 13 June. Also speaking Rep. Henry B. Fahnbullah claimed that Lands, Mines and Energy Minister Patrick Sendolo had vowed to give excuse and send his deputy whenever he was invited by the House.
Rep. Fahnbulleh considers the alleged act of Minister Sendolo as being very disrespectful, warning that if the Minister cannot appear, the House should take a serious action against him.

Rep. Saah Joseph had earlier written the House of Representatives insisting that LEC Board and the Ministry of Lands and Mines be restrained from consigning the management of the corporation to another management contract.
By Bridgett Milton-Edited by Winston W. Parley

20 of Liberia’s 22 registered political parties have signed a Farmington River Declaration, committing themselves to preventing electoral violence, impunity and injustice, pledging before ECOWAS Heads of States that where [such conflicts] occur, they would address them through mediation or through legal means.

“Our political campaign activities will be conducted in such a manner that will not only preserve but also enhance and maintain the peace and unity of Liberia”, the parties’ resolution read on Sunday, 4 June during ECOWAS’ 51st Summit chaired by Liberia’s President Mrs. Ellen Johnson - Sirleaf in Margibi County.

Sister Mary Laurene read the Farmington River Declaration of commitment to peaceful elections and judicial resolution of elections dispute in Liberia, after which representatives of 20 political parties signed the instrument.

By signing the resolution, leaders of political parties say they commit themselves “to an orderly and peaceful elections process in October 2017”. President Ellen Johnson - Sirleaf attested to the resolution signed by the parties and witnessed by leaders of Liberia’s Inter – Religious Council, as well as the head of the traditional chiefs. ECOWAS Heads of State at the event were also given documents to sign.

The ruling Unity Party’s standard bearer Vice President Joseph NyumahBoakai signed the resolution, while main opposition Coalition for Democratic Change political leader Sen. George Weah also signed the resolution.

Other opposition political parties signed the resolution before ECOWAS Heads of State, including All Liberian Party’s Benonie Urey and Liberty Party’s Cllr. Charles Brumskine who, unlike the rest of the parties representatives, walked across the round table to shake hands with West African presidents before signing for his party.

In the resolution, the parties have resolved to work closely with all law enforcement agencies here to ensure that they perform their roles and duties effectively throughout the elections and post elections periods.

The parties called on government to set up a hotline and make it available to each stakeholder organization to monitor and report on situations that have the propensity to undermine the security, peace and harmony of the 2017 electoral process.

The signing of the Farmington Declaration by 20 party representatives came after a two - day consultative dialogue was convened here in Monrovia for 22 registered political parties last month.

At that forum, Mrs. Sirleaf committed government to conducting peaceful, free, fair and transparent democratic elections in 2017, leading to an orderly transfer of power from one democratically elected government to another one in January 2018.

In the Farmington River Declaration, the 20 parties agree and resolve that the Ganta Declaration of the political parties in Nimba County clearly sets the framework for free, fair and transparent non- violent elections.

As such, they say they are resolved that the 2017 presidential and representatives elections be held consistent with the Constitution and laws of Liberia and in line with all international standards. They seek a provision of a constitutional threshold by the Legislature for the conduct of the elections.

By Winston W. Parley

At least two persons reportedly died on Monday, 5 June when a commercial sand truck ran into a motorbike, killing a woman and the bike rider on the Barnesville-Johnsonville road, while several passengers sustained serious injuries down Johnson Street before the Gabriel Tucker Bridge after a container truck crashed into a taxi while descending.

On Johnson Street, eyewitnesses narrated that the container truck was heading toward the bridge, but developed break failure, colliding with another truck traveling in the same direction.

They continue that four passengers on board a Taxi with Plate#3373 sustained serious wounds after they were hit from the back by the container truck. The injured persons were immediately taken to the Redemption Hospital in New Kru Town, a Monrovia suburb for medication.

The driver of the taxi, Fayah Kemoh, explains to The NewDawn that he and a female passenger riding in the front of the vehicle escaped unharmed. Kemoh laments that the wounded persons are in critical conditions due to impact from the container truck, damaging the rear of his taxi.

The damaged taxi with service name: “Shame on them” was subsequently removed from the accident scene by the Liberia National Police (LNP) and parked at the Slipway Police Depot, pending further investigation.

Another motor accident occurred the same day within Johnsonville Township when a commercial truck transporting sand ran into a motorcycle, killing two persons instantly, one of them a female.

Eyewitnesses detail that two passengers, a male and his girlfriend were on the bike besides the bike rider, but the boyfriend jumped off after noticing that the sand truck was about to hit the motorcycle.

The lone survivor tried saving his girlfriend, but was unsuccessful as the truck ran into the motorcycle, killing the lady and the rider. According to eyewitnesses, in an attempt to save the life of his girlfriend, the guy held her by the head, but unfortunately, only her wig cap left in his hand as the truck dragged her and the motorcyclist into a nearby shop, killing them.

Since the completion of the newly constructed Kebbah Road, there have been series of motor accidents along that route, destroying lives and properties. Heavy duty trucks often ply the road with terrific speed in disregard of traffic rules. The Liberia National Police have begun preliminary investigation into the accident.

By Emmanuel Mondaye& Samuel Kamara-Editing by Jonathan Browne

The House of Representatives Chairperson on Ways, Means, Finance and Budget, Bong County Representative Prince Moye, says the 2017/18 Draft National Budget will be passed speedily.

Speaking at the official opening of budget hearing at the Capitol Building on Monday, 5 June Representative Moye says there are pressing needs of the State, including the conduct of free, fair, transparent, and peaceful elections in October.

Giving a breakdown of the process that would lead to the speedily passage of the budget, he explains that the joint committee of both the House of Representatives and the Liberian Senate will spend two weeks on expenditure agencies of government to provide expenditure reports, while revenue generating agencies will also face the committee to convince the lawmakers how funds being projected could be raised, and one week for in-house working by members of the Legislature.

Moye continues that at the close of the three-week activities, the draft budget will be submitted for possible passage by the plenary of the House of Representatives. The budgetary period here for the government starts from June and ends on June the following year.

The draft resources envelope for fiscal year 2017/18 is US$526,548,333,00. Of this amount, US$523, 560, 321, 06 is projected as core revenue; while US$2,987,687.98 is contingent revenue, and total projected revenue from domestic resources mobilization stands at US$476, 608, 00.00 or 91 percent.

External resources account for US$49,940,000, which represents nine percent; from economic sectors perspective, the largest portion of domestic revenue comes from the general business sector, accounting for US$152.8 million or representing 29 percent of domestic resources.

According to the budget guide, the extractive sector represents 12 percent of domestic resources, accounting for US$55.1 million of which forestry is US$10.4 million, agriculture US$12.3 million, and mining US$32.4 million, respectively, among others.

The Executive Mansion on 22 May submitted what is expected to be President Sirleaf’s last budget to the Liberian Legislature in the tune of US$526.5M for Fiscal Year 2017/2018, a 12.3 percent reduction from last fiscal year’s US$600.2M approved for 2016/2017.

Presenting the Draft Budget to the Legislature, Deputy Finance and Development Planning Minister, Tanneh Brumson, defended that financial instrument reflects 3.5 percent decrease on the end -of-year forecast of US$545.5m.

House Speaker J. Emmanuel Nuquay, who received the draft budget, noted that in line with law, government should have presented the document on 30 April, to allow effective scrutiny before passage into law.

By E. J. Nathaniel Daygbor-Editing by Jonathan Browne

Political parties’ leaders here continue to be endorsed by various groups and politicians around the country; these endorsements still begs the question as to whether they can be translated into votes.

One of the latest is a group of Nimbaians claiming to be the biggest social and political group in the vote rich county. The group from the Nimba Kwado officially endorsed the presidential bid of opposition Liberty Party or LP standard bearer Cllr. Charles Walker Brumskine on Thursday 1, June in Monrovia at the LP’s headquarters in Congo Town.

Hundreds of supporters led by the group’s chairman of the Board of Directors stormed the LP’s headquarters in Congo Town on Thursday, 1 June in Monrovia to declare their support to Cllr. Brumskine.

Some political observers here consider Nimba Kwado’s endorsement of Cllr. Brumskine as a big political blow to the presidential quest of the political leader of opposition Movement for Democracy and Reconstruction or MDR, Senator Prince Y. Johnson, who is said to see Nimba as his stronghold for the October presidential and representatives’ elections.

Reading the endorsement statement on behalf of the group on Thursday, Rev. Eward Wawoe said since he left main opposition Congress for Democratic Change as vice chairman for political affairs, the only name that matches his taste for the next political sojourn following sometime of serious reflection is Cllr. Brumskine’s LP.

“We have resolved in the supreme interest of our nation and its people to officially join the Liberty Party as a full flesh member”, Rev. Wawoe says. He adds that having carefully observed ... all of the presidential hopefuls that are seeking Liberia’s highest office, he is convinced that Cllr. Brumskine is best suited with the requisite qualification to lead the nation “during this time”.

He claims that the Liberian people are tired with the ruling Unity Party of President Ellen Johnson - Sirleaf, suggesting that the dream of Vice President Joseph Nyumah Boakai to become the next president is far from achieving.

Rev. Wawoe insists that the Liberian people are not thinking of giving the Unity Party or UP a third term. He says the Nimba Kwado needs a new leadership that has the ability to communicate with the international community expeditiously, taking into consideration that such leader must speak the language which will attract the continued support of the international community for the nation’s recovery programs.

In resposne, the LP expressed thanks and appreciation to the group, adding that the recent endorsement of 19 senators and 23 representatives to the presidential bid of Vice President Boakai has made the LP’s campaign work easier.

An LP official who spoke following the endorsement claims that about 80 percent of the lawmakers that are seeking reelection will not make a come-back on grounds of their actions and poor governmental skills displaced during their six years’ stay at the Capitol Building.

The LP official concludes that the lawmakers’ endorsement of Mr. Boakai is a clarity that they, along with Mr. Boakai, helped to mismanage the resources of the state.
By E. J. Nathaniel Daygbor-Edited by Winston W. Parley

A three-day psychosocial and pedagogy follow-up training workshop for teachers has begun in Ganta, Nimba County, bringing together 47 participants from all 12 educational districts of the county.

The coordinator for parent-community engagement and national dropout prevention at the Ministry of Education, Madam Comfort Summerville, says the training is the second phase of the psychosocial and pedagogy training for teachers, which started in 2015.

She says the objective is to train teachers how to handle situation in the classroom and how to teach and handle psychosocial issues. Madam Summerville explains topics include classroom management, lesson planning, code of conduct, and professional standards for teachers, amongst others.

She notes that the Ministry of Education is adding these new dynamisms to the profession because it encourages students and teachers to play a participatory role in the classroom, which will enhance the learning process.

She says the workshop is being sponsored by USAID through UNICEF, and looks forward to seeing the participants return to their various institutions to put in practice skills acquired.

Nimba County Education Officer, Moses Dologbay, is optimistic that the training will help the teachers after the huge psychosocial impact from the outbreak of the Ebola Virus Disease on the educational sector. CEO Dologbay continues that the training enable participants to deal with trauma and other effects associated with post-Ebola era here.

By Franklin Doloquee/Nimba-Editing by Jonathan Browne


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