Don’t worry about critics

President George Manneh Weah says those who believe in him should not worry about criticisms against him, maintaining that no matter what the critics say, it would not deter him from executing his plans for the Liberian people.

His comments are seen here as an abrupt U-turn on earlier frustration expressed in Gbarnga, Bong County recently against growing public criticism. “I don’t know what Liberians want. I told them that if you elect me, I will build the roads. I am trying to build the roads; they are criticizing me. From 1847 to 2018, we Liberians still don’t know want we want; If you don’t want roads and god health system, let me know”, President sounded frustratingly.

But at the launch Wednesday of project dubbed “Special Presidential Pro - Poor Housing Unit Project” in which government seeks to construct 564 housing units with initial 283 due to commence in Sasstown, Grand Kru County, Mr. Weah says critics can go ahead and criticize him because criticism is a good thing.

“I will ask you to continue to pray with me; don’t worry about those that are talking. We have talked about 171 years, nothing happened; now we want to leave a legacy, join me, those that believe in me. Join me let us build this country,” the President said Wednesday, 20 June in Margibi County near Fendall Campus while cutting ribbon to a sample of housing units he intends to construct free - of - charge for poor people along major highways in the country.

 “Don’t bother to criticize because I love that. So you can go ahead and criticize because that’s a good thing. But no matter what you say will not stop me from doing what I supposed to do for the Liberian people,” Mr. Weah says.

To finance the construction of roads here, the Weah-led administration recently signed two separate loans financing agreements with two foreign institutions, totaling nearly a billion US Dollars.

The government has been criticized for the loans, though they have speedily passed through both the House of Representatives and the Senate in spite of public outcry.

President Weah however argues that building roads and homes for poor people are good investments, adding, “We cannot be comfortable in our dwelling” and see other people are uncomfortable.

He says this is why he is the originator of the pro - poor agenda, vowing to make sure the agenda is fulfilled, amid applause from the audience.

The implementing contractor for the highway housing units, Liberia Agency for Community Empowerment (LACE) says US$8m will be used for the project.

Earlier speaking, the Minister of State for Presidential Affairs, Mr. Nathaniel McGill notes, If one saw some of the housing under which people are living, you would think that maybe if storm came at night, the house would break down and maybe even some people would die.

He says President Weah has vowed to change this condition, recalling how the President often spoke of those conditions during campaign seasons every time they drove along the highway either going to Bassa or to the southeast.

Minister McGill says some people think Monrovia is Liberia, adding that when you talk about fixing the roads, some people have different thing to say.

“We” need to go and see how people are living outside of Monrovia, praying for long life for the president as he continues to do his best for the people irrespective of criticism against him, he says and notes that more people in Liberia think that campaigns were still ongoing five months after the elections in 2017.

By Winston W. Parley--Editing by Jonathan Browne

Weah launches free housing project

President George Manneh Weah has officially launched a US$8m project to replace thatch and mud huts by modern housing units along major highways in Liberia’s 15 counties.

Under the project dubbed “Special Presidential Pro - Poor Housing Unit Project,” the Liberia Agency for Community Empowerment (LACE) is contracted to implement the construction of 564 housing units along the highways, with the initial construction of 283 modern houses due to commence in Sasstown, Grand Kru County.

Launching the project Wednesday, 20 June in Margibi County near Fendal Campus, Mr. Weah said his government wants to change the face of communities along the rural highway, noting that you cannot be building the roads and keep huts on the roads.

To finance construction of roads here, Mr. Weah’s government has recently signed two different loan agreements with two foreign institutions totaling nearly a billion US Dollars.

The President guarantees that the 15 counties here will be served in the implementation of the housing unit project, encouraging contractor LACE and those that will work along with the agency to be very fast, efficient and ensuring durability.

Mr. Weah says he lived in Sasstown since 1975 up to 1979 and he never had the opportunity to live in a home like the one to which he cut ribbon Wednesday.

Mr. Weah says today in this 21st century, the people he left in Sasstown are still living in huts, adding that this is modern era and it is time to change the condition and give them hope.

According to him, the pro - poor agenda is aimed at serving everyone, whether rich, middle class or poor.

The president assures that there will be affordable housing units too for those that want them, but notes that the current project is intended to lift people out of poverty to a sustainable development.

President Weah announces that the special presidential pro - poor housing units will be free of charge from the Government of Liberia, and therefore asks Liberians to pray with him so that the project does not stop in Margibi with the prototype.

He says no matter what is said about him, he will not stop doing what he is supposed to do for Liberians, stating that critics can go ahead and criticize him because criticism is a good thing.

Mr. Weah expresses thanks to LACE Executive Director Mr. Quiwu Yeke for making the effort to construct in Margibi County a prototype of what villagers always imagine than a hut.

Before cutting ribbon to the structure, Mr. Weah says the design is good and one would be happy to have such a residence, compared to a hut.

After launching the project, Mr. Weah later interacted with young people in the area, and heard their request to help them with scholarships for both academic and vocational schools.

He told them in response to work with Margibi County Sen. Oscar Cooper who was at the program, urging them to submit a list to the Senator so that their request can be addressed.

Mr. Weah says government is willing to support people in their quest to acquire education.

Earlier, LACE Executive Director Mr. Quiwu Yeke said President Weah is working tirelessly with his counterparts in ensuring the use of US$8m to complete 564 housing units with some latrines and handpumps.
He says the construction of the housings will be at no cost to the people in the rural areas, noting that it is President Weah’s way of identifying with the rural people.

Mr. Yeke says the program aims to ensure the achievement of economic justice by making available the initial 283 low cost housing units starting in Sasstown, Grand Kru County.

Under this project, Mr. Yeke says President Weah’s government seeks to reduce housing gap, strengthen and support poverty reduction and social protection, among others.

He announces that government will not go elsewhere to hire contractors for the project, but will instead use graduates of the Monrovia Vocational and Technical Center (MVTC) to execute the project.

He says he has already requested the Minister of Youth and Sports to send the listing of those that have just graduated from the MVTC so that they can help to build the country.

According to Mr. Yeke, the project will strongly support government’s pro - poor agenda by replacing huts by modern structures along major highways.

Minister of State for Presidential Affairs Mr. Nathaniel McGill says he is very happy to see the sample of how the housing units will look, assuring President Weah of Cabinet’s support.

Sen. Oscar Cooper also welcomes the project and pledges support, noting that when you see the mud and thatch houses in the rural areas, you wonder how the people and the children survive.

By Winston W. Parley

Minister Wie calls for unity among Liberians

Deputy Internal Affairs Minister for Urban Affairs Paulita C. Wie is calling for unity among Liberians to move the country forward.

Speaking to reporters recently at her office, Madam Wie said as part of her promise to the Legislature to tour all the counties, she has toured 13 counties since she took over as Deputy Minister at the Ministry of Internal Affairs.

Madam Wie says during her tour, she explained that the election is over and it is now time that citizens work together and put away their differences to put the interest of Liberia first.

Minister Wie says most of the counties she visited do not have electricity and running water while some have hospitals but lack medicine. She says there are serious challenges, adding that some of the counties she went to do not have roads.

She says she also visited the service centers and most of them are still functional while few of them are down because of fuel. Before touring the counties, Mrs. Wie said her first expectation was that the people will receive her as their daughter and a government official.

By Bridgett Milton--Edited by Winston W. Parley

Lawmakers break grounds for school project

After 15 years without benefiting development, Nimba County District Four Representative Gunpue Kargon along with Deputy Speaker Prince Y. Moye have broken grounds for a six-classroom school building in Gbor-Gban-Win Town, Nimba.

Rep. Kargon, who entered Ganta City with his supporters chanting nicknames such as, “Dubai King”, “Dubai King”, and “Rescue Father”, among others, was accompanied by the Deputy Speaker.

According to Rev. Arthur Gbo-Whyee, a citizen from the town, for over 15 years, they have been abandoned by previous officials of the county, including ex-Representative Garrison Yealue, among others.

He recalls that during elections, politicians made their way to the town and obtained votes after which they abandoned the area. Rev. Gbo-Whyee commends Representative Kargon and Deputy Speaker Moye for the initiative. “We have been here for the past fifty years without having access to school, safe-drinking water, roads, and health facilities, among others, but the coming of you people in our town today is a blessing for us”, he expresses.

Residents danced and jubilated as vehicles carrying the two officials entered the town. Some of the citizens, who spoke with The NewDawn, corroborate Rev. Gbo-Whyee’s claim that past officials went there only during elections and after getting their votes, they turned their backs on them without the slightest thought of returning to say thanks.

Speaking during the groundbreaking ceremony, Representative Kargon says the US$25,000 elementary school project when completed, will help to educate children of the town, who have been out of school for a very long time.

The Nimba Lawmaker describes the project as his personal initiative, and also breaks grounds for construction of a clinic in Gbaye-Nyaon Old Town, Twah-River Administrative District.

According to him, citizens of the area in past years have been trekking long distances to access health facility in the district, vowing to make sure during his six-year tenure as lawmaker, they would have access to development across the district.

“I will take you from darkness to light, and will help to improve the living condition of you people, but it needs the involvement of all of us in the district” he emphasizes.

‘’We need unity and peace among us; this is why I am touring this district, having program with you people.” The ceremony brought together lawmakers from other areas, including Representative Prince Moye of Bong County.

Representatives Rogal S.W.Y. Domah of electoral district#7 and Johnson Gwiakolo of district#9, respectively pledged to work with Representative Gunpue L. Kargon to achieve his dreams for his constituents.

For his part, Deputy Speaker Moye pledges 200,000 Liberian Dollars plus 12 bundles of zinc towards the school project in Gbor-Gban-Wim Town.

By Thomas Domah/Nimba--Editing by Jonathan Browne

2 flogged for attempted theft

At least two suspected criminals were on 20 June apprehended and flogged while attempting to steal electrical power supply meters installed on a community light pole in the Township of Gardnersville.

An affected resident of the area Mr. Jeff Martin reveals that the suspects were apprehended while attempting to remove meters intended to provide electricity to homes under a heavy downpour.

According to him, they bought their meters from the Liberia Electricity Corporation (LEC) for USD$65.00 and also paid some unspecified amount for installation by the LEC.

He claims that he lost two meters placed on the light pole several months ago, prompting he and others to organize themselves to keep watch of their light pole to prevent a similar occurrence of the incident.

He indicates that while keeping guard during the night, dogs became to bark in the community and they immediately move in the direction where the dogs were barking.

They saw two alleged criminals on the light pole trying to disconnect meters belonging to residents, he says.

In the process, he says the alleged thieves were tracked down and subsequently flogged by community members for their alleged criminal action.

He notes that the meter thieves had earlier removed two other power supply meters from another light pole in the community while the people were asleep.

During the flogging, he continues, the thieves confessed to stealing two meters which they allegedly kept in the bush before attempting to remove additional ones before being caught.

He adds that the thieves later took the community people to where the stolen power meters were kept, after which residents retrieved the items. He says the two suspected thieves were turned over to the LPRC police depot for investigation and subsequent prosecution.

He attributes the new wave of meters theft around Monrovia and its environs to the size of the product, claiming that they are so small that any criminal can easily remove them without any constraint.

Prior to the civil conflict in Liberia, electrical power supply meters were very large, making it difficult to be removed by thieves. Meanwhile, community residents are calling on the Liberia National Police (LNP) and the Liberia Electricity Corporation to design measures that would help in the fight of meters theft which is becoming the way of life by unscrupulous criminals.

By Emmanuel Mondaye--Edited by Winston W. Parley



Left Logan Wort, Executive Secretary of ATAF and Pascal Saint-Amans, Director of OECD Centre for Tax Policy and Administration smilingly signing the MOU

The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the African Tax Administration Forum (ATAF) Tuesday (June 19) signed a renewal of their Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) until June 2023, agreeing to continue to work together to improve tax systems in Africa.

The OECD is an intergovernmental economic organization with 37 member countries, founded in 1961 to stimulate economic progress and world trade, while ATAF is established to create a platform to promote and facilitate mutual cooperation among African Tax Administrations and other relevant and interested stakeholders with the aim of improving efficiency of tax legislation and administration.

According to a press release, Liberia Revenue Authority (LRA) Commissioner General, Elfrieda Stewart Tamba, is an Executive Council Member of ATAF, which has contributed to improving tax administration in Liberia, through the strengthening of capacities and support to other initiatives.

The MoU sets their co-operation towards the achievement of the common objective of promoting fair and efficient tax systems and administrations in Africa, including Liberia which is a key member.

Logan Wort, Executive Secretary of ATAF, says, “ATAF has made tremendous strides in its ability to offer concrete and tangible benefits to member administrations. Our targeted technical assistance work in stemming Illicit Financial Flows (IFFs) that erode Africa’s tax base in key sectors, has begun to bear fruit and is a key driver in advancing Africa’s development Agenda 2063. Our two organizations enjoy a special relationship that has contributed to the sharing of knowledge and the development of better tax policy for Africa and technical skills of African revenue administrators.”

"It has been a privilege to partner with ATAF in the past nine years,” said Pascal Saint-Amans, Director of the OECD’s Centre for Tax Policy and Administration. “Our work with African countries is an essential component which helps us to develop new international tax standards.”

Domestic resource mobilization (DRM) is essential to reach the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The Addis Ababa Action Agenda (AAAA) also recognized the universal nature of the tax challenges of the 21st century.

The Memorandum was signed on the occasion of a meeting between the two organizations in Pretoria, South Africa. Domestic resource mobilization (DRM) is essential to reach the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The Addis Ababa Action Agenda (AAAA) also recognized the universal nature of the tax challenges of the 21st century. The Memorandum was signed on the occasion of a meeting between the two organizations in Pretoria, South Africa. Press Release

DEA denies compromising drug cases

The Liberia Drugs Enforcement Agency (LDEA) Bong County Detachment has debunked speculations in the County that it is compromising drug cases there.

Our Bong County correspondent says there have been huge public outcries that the DEA office in the county has been compromising drug cases. There has been specific mention of a recent arrest made by the DEA involving a classroom teacher, Jesse Kollie, where the alleged case was said to be compromised.

But contrary to speculations, Bong DEA Commander James Borbor says Mr. Jesse Kollie was released based on investigation conducted which established that Kollie was not the one transporting the drugs.

He says it was instead an unknown passenger who he (Jesse) decided to help with lift on his motorbike before being arrested by Agents of the DEA in Salala, Bong County.

According to the DEA County Commander, while agents of the institution were checking in the bag behind the motorbike which Jesse was riding, the unidentified owner allegedly escaped and DEA later arrested Jesse with 30kg of marijuana.

He says the 30kg marijuana is valued at a little over LRD$300,000.00.

The DEA Commander James Borbor also says his office will not leave any stone untouched in the County, especially people who are in the constant habit of selling Marijuana and other narcotic substances which are being used by criminals or citizens to carry on dangerous acts in various communities.

“I want to highly debunk the speculation that we did not compromise the case. But investigation has proven Mr. Kollie innocent and as such, releasing him was our only alternative because that’s what the law says,” he notes.

He describes those engaged in spreading negative propaganda against the institution in the county as unscrupulous individuals whose only plan he says is to say negative things about prominent people and institutions in the county. Mr. Borbor notes that they are putting every necessary measure in place to minimize the issues of drug trafficking in the Country.

By Joseph Titus Yekeryan in Bong--Edited by Winston W. Parley

Partners collaborate to boost rice production, distribution

Supplying West Africa Traders (SWAT) and Cultivating New Frontier in Agriculture (CNFA) in collaboration with Liberia Agriculture Development Activity (LADA) Wednesday, June 20 signed a Public Private Partnership (PPP) to boost production and distribution of local rice and empower farmers in support of government’s pro-poor agenda.

CNFA/LADA is under the United States Government’s feed the future initiative with funding from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
The goal of LADA is to increase incomes of smallholder farmers (SHFs) through increasing private sector investment in the Liberia’s agribusiness sector.
The PPP agreement with SWAT supports component II of the CNFA/LADA program which calls for market facilitation and policy advocacy for Liberian farmers and actors along LADA’s four supply chains (rice, cassava, vegetables and aquaculture).

SWAT, one of the importers of rice in the country in consultation with the Ministry of Commerce and Industry continues conversation with CNFA/LADA that led to the conclusion of the PPP agreement.

The agreement, according to the two institutions, aims to boost distribution of quality locally grown rice, while empowering rice farmers to increase production.
The partnership seeks to achieve an annual good quality milled rice production of roughly 15,000 metric tons in Liberia, which would help reduce imports by 30 percent at end of 2020.

Under the agreement, SWAT will support development of rice processing capacity by providing technical advice to local processors, purchasing local quality rice that meets established specifications and eventually investing in local processing.

The company will consider provision of auxiliary services such as warehousing, transportation and equipment lease to rice sector actors, among others.
On the other hand, CNFA/LADA will support procurement of rice processing mills for local entrepreneurs to establish or expand private sector agro-enterprises, promote full-time operation of mills procured with LADA support.

SWAT’s Chief Executive Officer, George N. Nehme, speaking following the signing ceremony expressed gratitude to President George Weah for challenging importers to look into investing in local production and holding consultations with the Ministries of Commerce and Industry, and Agriculture, including technicians from there who remain committed to supporting this initiative.

Nehme also thanked USAID-Liberia and CNFA/LADA team for continuing to build the capacity of local farmers to produce more rice for the Liberian market.
“We are happy about this agreement because it is a new beginning to increase rice production working together with the farmers as partners. My team at SWAT has been supporting this process over the last several months,” he said.

He also thanked John Bestman, chairman of the Liberia Rice Importers Association for his support in making the event come to light and other partners as well.
For his part, the chief of party of LADA, Willem Van Campen reminded the participants that rice is the staple food of Liberia, with a population of approximately 5million.

“Huge quantities of about 400,000 metric tons of rice are imported every year. This represents more 50% of the total consumption of a total value of about US$200million per year. The situation is not only a question of food security and food sovereignty. It is also an important issue for the use of foreign exchange and for the overall Liberian economy,” he said.

He pledged the unflinching support of CNFA/LADA to ensure the partnership succeeds and boost the agriculture sector of the country. The signing ceremony was witnessed by officials of the Ministries of Commerce, Finance and Agriculture as well as other partners. Agriculture Minister Mogana Flomo pledged the commitment of the ministry in making sure the partnership succeeds. \

--Editing by Jonathan Browne

Chiefs dump lawmakers

Two weeks after Bong County Legislative Caucus signed a joint resolution calling on President George Manneh Weah to take steps against the dismissals of some chiefs by the office of Superintendent Esther Nyamah Walker, more than 50 Chiefs from the county have signed a resolution distancing themselves from the Lawmakers’ previous resolution.

Our Bong County correspondent says the Chiefs stated that they do not support the Lawmakers’ action to have signed a resolution about their dismissals, leaving many to wonder if they Chiefs were not forced by Superintendent Walker to sign such resolution. The latest development has brought serious misunderstanding between the Caucus and Superintendent Walker’s office.

It has been speculated in the County that some chiefs were allegedly dismissed due to their refusal to support the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) in the 2017 general and presidential elections.

Their alleged dismissals prompted a joint legislative resolution by Bong County lawmakers, seeking President Weah’s action. The lawmaker had made claims that the wave of dismissals of chiefs in the county did not meet the standard of Article 56-B which, among other things calls for the election of chiefs for a six - year term and their removal only by the President for prove of misconduct.

But the Lawmaker’s resolution drew the attention of the public with some expressing disappointment on grounds that it was not important for the Lawmakers to sign said resolution.

According to some of the citizens, the Caucus should have engaged the President on implementing Article 56 (b) of the Constitution to have those chiefs elected.

Our Bong County Correspondent says the Chairman of the Caucus Senator Henry Willie Yallah has described the Superintendent’s action as total disrespect to Lawmakers of the County. Meanwhile, Madam Esther Walker says whether dismiss or not, those that are able to do the job will be given the chance to work.

By Joseph Titus Yekeryan in Bong--Edited by Winston W. Parley

Agric Power vows to up Liberia’s GDP

Agric Power Africa, an international organization here is promising to grow Liberia’s Gross Domestic Product (DGP) to US$10 Billion in five years.

Addressing a news conference Tuesday following a closed door meeting with authorities at the Ministry of Agriculture in Gardnersville outside Monrovia, the Chairman of Agric Power Africa, Aroms Emmanuel Aigbehi notes that agriculture holds huge potentials for earning untold revenue for Liberia and individuals.

He says in West Africa, food import alone costs over US$40 billion yearly, with Nigeria alone at over $22 billion, which according to him, rises yearly.

He says the result shows that many food items in West Africa, including Liberia are priced the same as in the United States or any European countries, adding, “This makes the cost of basic food items inaccessible for the people hence, the economy cannot sustain itself”.

“Despite the prevailing, we believe Liberia can overcome her food problem and gain food security with the right attitude towards agriculture within three years” Mr. Aigbehi said.

Speaking further Mr. Aigbehi indicates there are huge potentials in adding value by processing and packaging of food produce stressing that there exist huge markets for well processed exportable spices and herbs which can be produced in Liberia such as pepper, ginger, turmeric, nutmeg etc.

He explains that individuals as well as organizations that engage in these agricultural values chain businesses will be successfully and accumulate huge wealth.

Mr. Aigbehi notes that Liberians face uphill battle to engage in any aspect of Agriculture because of series of mitigating factors.

“Many of these problems are so huge and complicated that a single individual who is passionate about agriculture may not have enough money, time, contacts, skills and other resources to leverage the potentials in Agriculture to create wealth”, he adds.

He emphasized that to overcome these problems, there must be a concerted effort through cooperation of like-minded people and organizations prepared to harness their skills, knowledge, contacts and money, and form an investment platform which can leverage the full potential of agriculture in Liberia adding this is where Agric Power Africa, Liberia comes in.

The Agric Power Africa Chairman further explains his group can leverage on the skills, knowledge, contacts and money of participating partners to create a modern and sustainable agribusiness that will compete in the global market place.

Mr. Aigbehi continues this will help create jobs, alleviate poverty and create wealth in Liberia through agriculture which will help boost the government pro poor program.

He says Agric Power has ambitious plan for Liberia that would enable the country to become a powerhouse for West Africa and net exporter of food in three years.

“We are sure that with the support of this administration, we will be able to realize these objectives and the implementation of this plan will enable the Government of Liberia to build further, attracting more investments and funding into Liberia.”

He stresses there is an urgent need for food security, national development and further political stability in Liberia that will lead into a new phase of national development. Editing by Jonathan Browne

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