Guyana’s debt distress risk remains moderate but is rising, the International Monetary Fund’s Country Report has revealed.Coming out of a debt sustainability analysis conducted by the IMF and the World Bank on Guyana, data disclose that debt indicators remain well below their respective thresholds over the projection period. The present value of external debt to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) ratio rises to around 28 per cent in the long-run. The report cautioned that Guyana remains vulnerable to large terms of trade shocks given the concentration of its exports on a few commodities, and its dependence on imported oil – which also has large implications for the financial sector.The sensitivity analysis and bound tests demonstrates a high vulnerability of Guyana’s debt to shocks, in particular, in the case of new loans on less favourable terms and one-time 30 per cent depreciation.Nevertheless, the analysis indicated that debt service would remain manageable, reflecting the high concessionality of public borrowing. However, under some situations and bound tests debt service could increase significantly, reducing the amount of resources available to public investment and social spending.It noted that in light of the risks associated with plans to significantly increase expenditure, the authorities should proceed with extreme caution, such as ensuring that the projects are financially viable and that they increase the economy’s productivity, and improve debt management.It added that a significant rise in non-concessional debt, including domestic borrowing, may be needed to finance persistent deficits. That would bring additional risks and therefore would warrant close monitoring.The country’s gross public debt to GDP ratio is projected to reach 60 per cent of GDP by 2021, a relatively high level which can bring heightened financing risks on the non-concessional component, but noted that the authorities are determined to promote a robust economy.The IMF stated that the authorities are committed to prudent fiscal policies, adding that “Guyana’s fiscal balance improved considerably in 2015, underpinned by the rebound in revenue collection”.The primary balance registered a 0.8 per cent of GDP surplus in 2015 from a 4.8 per cent of GDP deficit in 2014. The overall Non-Financial Public Sector (NFPS) deficit improved considerably from 5.7 per cent of GDP in 2014 to just 0.2 per cent of GDP in 2015.Guyana’s Executive Director for the IMF, Octaviano Canuto, addressed this matter in a statement, explaining that the country’s fiscal deficit is projected to remain between five and six per cent of GDP over the medium-term.“Given the ambitious development agenda undertaken to bridge the significant infrastructure gap and address unmet social needs, the authorities intend to carefully calibrate their consolidation strategy to limit the adverse impact on the debt-to-GDP ratio, without forfeiting their objectives,” he said, adding that they continue to improve their debt management strategy and emphasise that they will refrain from utilising non-concessional external borrowing.“Private Sector funding would be mobilised through the increased use of well-designed private and public partnerships,” he noted.
Public Procurement CommissionPresident David Granger is awaiting the parliamentary Public Accounts Committee (PAC) to finalise the remuneration packages, Terms of Reference and other administrative arrangements before swearing in the members of the much-anticipaIfraan Alited Public Procurement Commission (PPC).Minister of State,Joseph HarmonPresident David GrangerThis is according to Minister of State, Joseph Harmon, who explained during the post-Cabinet briefing on Thursday that the work of the PAC was preliminary to the appointment of the members. He noted that before the members of the PPC are sworn in, the PAC needed to finalise certain terms and conditions.“As soon as the Public Accounts Committee sits, there are some proposals which will go before it in so far as salaries and things like that. The law requires the Chairman of the (Public Procurement) Commission is a full-time employee of that commission, which means that those persons who are named – one of them will be a chairman and another will be a vice chairman, and if they are working somewhere else, one of those persons will have to leave their job,” the Minister of State outlined.Harmon continued, “So, if you are working somewhere and going for another job, at least you must know what the salary you will be getting before you leave your job, and so it is some of these terms and conditions that have to be settled by the Public Accounts Committee.”At the end of July 2016, the PAC agreed on the nominees for the PPC, and that list was subsequently approved by a two-thirds majority of the National Assembly on August 8.The approved members include Attorney Emily Dodson, Carol Corbin, University of Guyana lecturer Sukrishnalall Pasha, educator Ivor English and former Labour Minister Nanda Gopaul.This list was subsequently sent to the Head of State for the members to be sworn in, but this is yet to be done, as Government is awaiting the finalisation of the terms and conditions for the Commission.However, PAC Chairman, Opposition parliamentarian Irfaan Ali recently pointed out that the President could go ahead with swearing in the members of the Procurement Commission, as he did not have to necessarily wait for the Committee to finish its work on the PPC.Nevertheless, Ali assured that the PAC, “after the Parliament comes out of recess, would be moving to have this issue as a priority on its agenda in setting out the administrative mechanism to support the work of the Public Procurement Commission, so there is nothing that is stopping the President from swearing in the members of the Public Procurement Commission”.Meanwhile, Harmon said on Thursday that Government was also supportive of fast-tracking the process at the level of the Parliamentary Committee.“We will like that to be a top priority as well, and we will give that our full support to ensure that it is fast tracked,” he stated.On the other hand, the Minister of State outlined that once the PPC was set up, it would pave the way for the establishment of the Public Procurement Tribunal – a process which the Commission would need to have a say in. “The Public Procurement Commission has a role in the selecting of that tribunal – one has to be set up before the other so that the one that is set up before can have a say in the setting up of the other. So, we got to get the Public Procurement Commission up and running and then the Tribunal will be set up,” he explained. The issue of establishing the PPC predated the holding of the General and Regional Elections in May 2015, as the then Opposition had insisted that Cabinet should cease the practice of giving its ‘no objection’ to contracts for State projects and services, in favour of the PPC.
The World Bank Group has announced series of measures aimed at strengthening itself to better meet the evolving needs of clients across the world. The Bank’s president Jim Yong Kim declared Tuesday that the measures will include a startling US$100 billion increase lending capacity of the Bank’s lending arm for middle-income countries over the next decade.The World Bank Group president noted that the Bank will take advantage of new innovations in financial management and a boost in the institution’s ability to provide private sector support. The Bank’s announcement follows the record US$52 billion replenishment of International Development Association (IDA), the World Bank’s fund for the poorest countries, in December, 2013. Speaking at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) in Washington D.C in advance of the World Bank/IMF Spring Meetings, Kim outlined how the Bank is positioning itself to better achieve its goals of ending extreme poverty by 2030 and boosting shared prosperity for the lowest 40 percent in developing countries.“We now have the capacity to nearly double our annual lending to middle-income countries from US$15 billion to US$26 to $28 billion a year. This means that the World Bank’s lending capacity will increase by $100 billion to roughly US$300 billion over the next ten years,” said Kim. “This is in addition to the largest IDA replenishment in history, with US$52 billion in grants and concessional loans to support the poorest countries.” It is estimated that those living in extreme poverty were estimated at 21 percent in the developing world, and 17.7 percent globally in 2010. Boosting IBRD’s Margins for ManeuverIn addition to the previously announced $400 million in cost savings over the next three years that can be reinvested, Kim described a series of measures at the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD)—which provides financing, risk management products, and other financial services to middle-income countries—that have the potential to transform IBRD by substantially increasing its ability to serve its clients.These include: increasing IBRD’s Single Borrower Limit by US$2.5 billion for Brazil, China, Indonesia, India, and Mexico, with a 50 basis point surcharge on the incremental amount; revising IBRD’s minimum equity-to-loan ratio to reflect improvements in portfolio credit risk, enabling more efficient utilization of shareholder capital while remaining financially prudent; changing IBRD’s loans terms, including restoring the 25 basis point commitment fee charged on undisbursed balances, and offering longer maturities with increased maturity differentiation.This will allow IBRD’s annual lending commitment capacity to expand immediately from the current US$15 billion in annual lending to more than US$25 billion per year. Therefore, the Bank’s clients over the next 10 years can see IBRD’s capacity, in terms of the maximum loan book it can prudently support, increase from about US$200 billion to nearly US$300 billion, which would also boost the Bank’s countercyclical crisis-response capacity. With an infrastructure financing gap currently estimated at US$1.2-1.5 trillion per year in emerging market and developing economies, additional resources that remain attractive relative to bond markets should continue to be in demand.“New Innovations at MIGA move further toward “One World Bank Group”Mr. Kim also described how separate arms of the World Bank Group are working even more closely together to achieve greater efficiencies. For example, he explained that the Bank Group’s political risk insurance arm, the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA) is entering into an innovative MIGA/IBRD exposure exchange agreement to improve the diversification of each organization’s portfolios, thereby freeing up capacity to support additional business. The first exchange will be of an IBRD exposure to Brazil for a MIGA exposure to Panama, under a MIGA contract for non-honoring of sovereign financial obligations. Both Panama and Brazil will see benefits, as IBRD and MIGA will have more headroom to do additional business in each country.The World Bank boss also noted that MIGA is planning to increase its new guarantee extension by nearly 50 percent over the next four years.Harnessing the private sector to help end povertyKim described how IFC is looking to enhance its support in achieving the global lender’s twin goals, with an expectation that it will close to double its financing over the next decade.“IFC, the largest provider of multilateral financing for the private sector in developing countries, expects it will nearly double its portfolio over the next decade to US$90 billion. In 10 years, we believe its annual new commitments will increase to US$26 billion.” said Kim.The World Bank Group has seen its financial support to developing countries double over the past ten years, from US$25.8 billion in FY04 to US$52.6 billion in the last fiscal year. The cumulative effect of the additional lending capacity at IBRD, the largest-ever IDA envelope, and growing business at IFC and MIGA will be significant, Kim noted.“Taken as a whole, the World Bank Group’s annual commitment, which today is around US$45 to US$50 billion, is expected to grow to more than US$70 billion in the coming years. This increased financial firepower represents unprecedented growth for the World Bank Group. We are now in a position to mobilize and leverage, in total, hundreds of billions of dollars annually in the years ahead.”Enhancing the World Bank’s Equity Management FrameworkIn his speech at CFR, Kim noted, “We are strengthening our financial house to make sure that we have the capability and financial firepower to scale up our revenue and build our capital if we are going to meet some of the great needs in the developing world.”Another such measure is to stabilize and protect income generated from IBRD equity to improve the Bank Group’s financial sustainability. An enhanced Equity Management Framework will allow management to respond with more flexibility to changing market and macroeconomic conditions, within agreed rules and risk parameters. The Framework is designed to reduce the interest rate sensitivity of IBRD’s equity income, which accounts for a major portion of revenues, and aims to achieve income stability and protection by applying prudent governance and careful risk oversight.‘A Better ‘Solutions Bank’Kim asserted that the World Bank Group is now on a better footing to help countries meet their development challenges going forward.“Today, we are now better positioned to be the ‘Solutions Bank.’ We are aligning our programs and our talent to help countries grow more inclusively, which will help the poor and vulnerable, to lift themselves out of poverty.”Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)
Lofa County District#4 Representative Hon. Mariamu B. Fofana has submitted for enactment a bill entitled, ‘An act to establish the National Disaster Management Agency, Republic of Liberia.’The bill was presented Tuesday, November 11, the 19th day sitting of its extraordinary session on Capitol Hill.The draft law intends to create an independent institution that will manage disasters, including wars, epidemics, landslide, flood, fire, sea erosion, windstorms, and rainstorms.“Having realized the numerous occurrences of natural disasters in Africa and the increased frequency and magnitude of hazards such as floods and sea erosion in Liberia, have given the impetus for a National Disaster Risk Management Policy for Liberia,” Rep. Fofana’s letter said.“This impetus is also driven by a need to reduce the risk related to these hazards as results of high vulnerability from over 14 years of war, poverty and low human and physical capacity.”The letter added: “Unfortunately, the level of preparedness to such disasters is inadequate leaving the country highly vulnerable to the consequences of disaster.”After the Act’s submission in plenary, a motion was filed by Montserrado County District#10 Hon. Julius F. Barrian that the Bill be turned over to the committees on Ways, Means and Finance, Judiciary and Internal Affairs as lead committee for an advisement in about two weeks. The motion was unanimously carried.Meanwhile, the House of Representatives has extended its Constituency Break by one month, beginning Tuesday, November 12 to Friday, December 12, 2014.The Certificate of Extension from the Lower House was moved.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)
The World Food Program (WFP), in flagrant (barefaced, unashamed) disregard for struggling Liberian businesses, recently awarded to a Guinean trucking firm a multimillion dollar contract for transport services to the WFP’s Ebola response to Liberia.How is that possible? Does WFP or anyone else think that the Guinean government and people, more particularly Guinean businesspeople, would ever allow such a thing to happen in Guinea? Definitely not! The Guineans most certainly know better. Though they are predominantly Muslim, they know fully well the Christian dictum that “Charity begins at home.”The big trouble is, NOT IN LIBERIA!Liberia is a friendly country, most probably the most friendly in Africa. For which other African country so openly and so wholeheartedly welcomes foreigners and are prepared to give them every opportunity to do business and make tons of money here, while Liberians continue to live in abject poverty?This newspaper has always advocated, argued for, pleaded with the Liberian government, to do everything in its power, as a deliberate policy, to encourage and foster the development of a middle class. Daily Observer publisher Kenneth Y. Best, as a young Assistant Minister at the Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism (MICAT) in 1972, started urging the Liberian leaders to begin the process of developing a Liberian merchant class. His point was that it was the quickest way to lift our people out of poverty, for that is where the money is—in business and commerce. If Liberians controlled their own commerce, they would be in the driver’s seat of their economy.When Kenneth made that 1972 call during a speech at his alma mater, Booker Washington Institute (BWI), no less a person than the eminent former Liberian Secretary of State J. Rudolph Grimes told him, “You know, you are right.”Alas! The government has paid absolutely NO attention to this advice. This advice has over the years been consistently rejected by successive Liberian administrations, including the current one. The Tubman government started by enunciating (pronouncing) the Open Door Policy. This was initially hailed as a great thing because it started attracting foreign investments to the country, But from the very start, it became a totally foreign thing, the first being Lansdell K. Christe’s Liberia Mining Company (LMC) that mined iron ore from Bomi Hills (now Tubmanburg). But 20 years before LMC came Harvey S. Firestone, Jr’s Firestone Rubber Plantations Company (FRPC). That was Liberia’s first major foreign investment. Like Firestone, LMC had no local investment participation. Then came LAMCO in the late 1950s, to mine the iron ore in Mount Nimba, Nimba County; and later Bong Mining Company. All of these were overwhelmingly foreign-owned.The government did nothing to encourage Liberians to undertake ancillary (subsidiary, secondary) businesses, such as food supply, transportation and other logistical services. Even as late as the 2000s, especially with the coming of the current government, major concession agreements have been signed, particularly in the iron ore, oil palm and now the petroleum sectors, with no Liberian participation. The National Oil Company (NOCAL) has auctioned off most of the oil blocks, again with little or no Liberian participation, except a very few that have not been made public. Who knows whether these are not reserved for people close to the powers that be? If not, why are these Liberian owners so secretive? Is that the few remain natural resources should be shared?There is another alarming, deeply distressing reality at play: The government owes the media, most of them tiny business enterprises, well over half a million United States dollars, but has, over several years, consistently REFUSED to pay them. Now the government is DEMANDING that the media houses accept far less than the amount due them! How so fraudulent and unfair, how so shamefully a misuse of power!Worse yet, several Christmases have passed, and this one, too, is about to pass, and GOL has not aroused its conscience — if it has one — to pay the media, so that our wives and children can say “Papa na come home.”So who can blame the WFP for ditching Liberian truckers in favor of Guinean truckers? WFP has learned well the lesson the Liberian government has taught them— “to hell with Liberian businesses. You can come to Liberia and do as you please.”Is this government then serious about poverty reduction, which it has preached, since coming to power?Ellen’s government has only two more years in power. As eternal optimists, we don’t think it is too late for her to make a difference. A good place to start is to PAY THE MEDIA WHAT YOU OWE THEM AND DEMAND THAT THE WFP AGREEMENT BE REVERSED.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)
PREVAIL, the Ebola trial vaccine team in Monrovia, has admitted that it failed to provide adequate public awareness before beginning to dispense the two trial vaccines early this week.Called Partnership for Research on Ebola Vaccine in Liberia, PREVAIL is a Liberia-U.S. Joint Clinical Research Partnership aimed at studying common infectious diseases in Liberia and developing Liberian clinical research capacity. The vaccine study began in October last year when Liberia and the United States formed the partnership with the objective of learning more about Ebola, finding the vaccines to prevent it and accelerate their development as well as discovery of treatments to heal people who become infected with the deadly virus.The trial vaccines were first administered on Monday to only twelve of the initial 600 expected volunteers at the newly renovated clinical research unit of the Redemption Hospital in New Kru Town.The two Ebola trial vaccines, ChAd-3 and Vesicular Stomatitis Virus (rVSV), being administered in the country received limited public awareness, many people have observed. The lack of widespread, effective promotion of the vaccine trials has triggered rumors, fears and suspicions about them.The vaccines ChAd3-ZEBOV, manufactured by GlaxoSmithKline, a British pharmaceutical company, and the rVSV-ZEBOV by Merck/NewLink in Canada, have both been recognized by a panel of the World Health Organization (WHO). Despite the much desired objective of the vaccines to prevent future outbreaks of the Ebola virus and its devastation, the Liberian public has raised serious concerns about the trials. In reaction, the Liberian co-principal Investigator for PREVAIL, Dr. Stephen B. Kennedy, admitted at a press conference in Monrovia Wednesday that several actions were missed along the way before the trials commenced.“We missed many steps along the way,” Dr. Kennedy said. “We failed to carry out (comprehensive) consultations. For example, we left out the media, the Legislature, women and other important groups in our consultation process during the planning stage.”“We are not politicians; we are medical people and so we were not sensitive enough to these procedures. We only took into consideration the medical community during the initial process. However, we will do all we can to meet those concerns that are being raised.” Dr. Kennedy, who is also the coordinator for the Ministry of Health’s Ebola Research, Incident Management System (NIMS) for the National Ebola Response, said despite the mistakes in promoting public awareness and dispelling doubts, the protocol being followed in trying the vaccines is internationally and scientifically acceptable. He meanwhile appealed to the general public to volunteer for the vaccine trials “because it will protect them from any future outbreak of the virus.” He also called on Liberians to remain calm because, said Dr. Kennedy, the international community’s eyes are on the country to learn the outcome of the trials. Dr. Kennedy pointed out that a successful implementation of the trials will be Liberia’s major contribution to global public health. He refuted what he claimed to be widespread news that the trials have been halted. What has been halted is a clinical therapeutic drug called Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR), an experimental drug for the management of Ebola-positive patients, he said. He said the drug was halted because the US Food and Drug Agency (FDA) withdrew PCR’s license as an Ebola trial drug. He did not say why PCR’s license was retracted.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)
Today’s topic marks the end of our series on self-care, school environment protocols, and community and work place protocols. However, and as it is Messengers of Peace (MOP)-Liberia’s cardinal programme to promote sustainable peace, we will continue to focus on Ebola response efforts.The purpose of travel protocols, particularly during the Ebola pandemic, cannot be overemphasized, because and thankfully so, it was due to the lack of adherence to this travel protocols, that brought national as well as international attention to the urgent steps directed at curbing the Ebola Virus Disease.In our dialogue with peace messengers, travel protocols should focus on surveillance and the establishment/strengthening of port health facilities, with holding/isolation centers at every border crossing (land frontiers, sea ports and airports) in the country. The essence of travel protocols is to identify sick travelers so as to prevent travelers importing the Ebola virus into the country and other parts of the world.In the past, the yellow immunization card was used to: prepare travelers, advice and protect them from health risks associated to vector borne infections, food and water safety conditions. During this Ebola pandemic, travel protocols should improve on the use of the yellow card and provide health advisories on travel to and from Ebola affected countries. Guidance for monitoring the movement of persons with the possibility of EVD exposures should be pursued and member states should provide medical evacuation plans for their citizens. On this note, we would like to commend Brussels airlines for their strong leadership in ensuring a bridge to the outside world during the Ebola crisis. The courage of this airline to continue their services, against all odds and when other regional airlines deserted Liberia is exemplary and should be emulated. According to Dr. Peter Piot of London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, (one of the doctors who discovered the Ebola virus in 1976); “The air-link provided by Brussels Airlines is vital for logistical supply. Without this strong support it would be impossible to battle the disease.”One message that comes across as we conclude our series on protocols necessary to prevent the spread of EVD, is the need for vigilance and strict adherence to the lessons learned from the strategies adopted during the Ebola epidemic. We need better coordination with partners, excellent contact tracing-the like the ones adopted by the USA and continuous education of all (survivors and the affected). Monitoring the implementation of all protocols should continue.Just when we are only weeks away from being declared “Ebola-free,” the country recorded a new case. We can’t rest on our amour. Until then and with an end in sight, we need to redouble our collective efforts to stop and eradicate Ebola from our country. We need to understand what went well and what we need to do better.Support the “Ebola Educates” Campaign in kind through your stories or with your generous cash donation.Until next week, when we come to you with another article on: “Ebola Educates- The Paradox of EVD,” Peace First, Peace above all else, May Peace prevail on earth.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)
In 1995 George Weah became the first – and to date only – African to win the highest individual award there is in world football: The Ballon d’Or. In an exclusive interview with FIFA.com, the Liberian icon looks back at his remarkable career.Whenever football fans name the best players never to have played at the World Cup finals, Weah is one of the first to be mentioned. Although the big striker played for some of the biggest clubs in Europe (Monaco, Milan, Paris Saint-Germain and Chelsea), he had the ‘misfortune’ of being born in Liberia – a country without a strong football pedigree. Weah sees it very differently.“I am very proud to be Liberian. I love the country and I love the people,” he insisted. “Of course I would have liked to have played at the World Cup, but I achieved so much in my career as a footballer that I can’t have any complaints. The only thing that is disappointing is that so many other Lone Star players never got to play at the World Cup and did not have the personal success I had.”After winning the Liberian league with Mighty Barrolle and Invincible Eleven, Weah had a short stint in Cameroon, before joining AS Monaco in 1988. At the time the French club was coached by Arsene Wenger. It was the start of a relationship that has lasted to this day, and when Weah won the World Player award he called Wenger onto the stage and gave him the award, saying he deserved it more than he did. It was the mark of a footballer who, despite winning just about every individual award there is, has always put the team’s interests before his own. That famously even went to financially assisting his cash-strapped country for some of their World Cup qualifying matches.After playing at Monaco for four seasons, he joined PSG and stayed with them until 1995, which was the pinnacle of his career. Although his club did not win the French Ligue 1 title, they won the Coupe de France and Coupe de la Ligue, and Weah picked up a slew of individual honors including the African Footballer of the Year, Champions League top scorer, European footballer of the Year and of course the two global awards existing at the time: the Ballon d’Or and the FIFA World Player of the Year award.“Of course I would have liked to have played at the World Cup, but I achieved so much in my career as a footballer that I can’t have any complaints.“When I started out, my dream was to play professional football,” Weah reflected. “That was my dream. I did not dream of winning the Ballon d’Or or FIFA Player of the Year award. I wanted to play professionally and achieve as much as I could.“It was really about the love for the game. But then of course winning the awards was very special. I think it was recognition for all the work that I put in during my career. And I was particularly proud because I think it was important for my country. They celebrated with me and it put Liberia on the map,” he said.After his success in 1995, Weah moved to AC Milan, where he won two Scudettos and scored what is often considered one of the great individual goals of all time in 1996 against Verona. He added the FA Cup in England with Chelsea as he wound down his football career at the turn of the century and retired in 2003.A new careerAlready a leader and legend in his country, Weah turned to politics after hanging up his boots. In December 2014, he won election for a place on the Liberian Senate – becoming the first sportsman elected to the legislature in the African country. Asked if it was easier scoring goals than running a country, Weah laughs. “Whatever you do in life, you have to do it with commitment and perseverance.“That was my approach on the football field and that is my approach now in politics. I am committed to helping my people and my country, just as much as I was committed to helping my team when I was a player.”Although no longer in active football, Weah remains connected to the sport and the Liberian national team. Several of the players who played with Weah in the Lone Stars when they came within one point of qualifying for the 2002 FIFA World Cup are now coaching the country’s various national teams and Weah often meets with them.“I will always be involved in sport, and I am the chair of the Sports Commission. Sport is so important to people. It can help people. I am where I am today because of football, and if I can give back something to the people of Liberia, then I want to do that,” he added.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)
Retired Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL), Lieutenant General Kpenkpah Y. Konah, has expressed outrage with the government for what he described as “marginalization and neglect” of him from every day-to-day activity of the military.In an exclusive interview with the Daily Observer on Saturday, in Ganta, Nimba County, Gen. Konah said since his retirement from the army in 2004, he has been excluded from AFL events, particularly during military ceremonial activities, when former high profile military personnel are sometimes invited to and honored.He said there is nowhere in this world, especially in the United States of America, where retired generals are excluded from a ceremony such as the formation of the army or the just-ended 59th Armed Forces Day celebrations.Retired General Konah spent his Armed Forces Day attending the Lutheran Men’s Convention, February 10 to 14, in Ganta.“Even though I am a member of the Lutheran Church in Liberia and a part of the Men’s Department, if I were to be invited to attend the Armed Forces Day celebration, I would not have come to Ganta for this convention,” he said.According to him, every man is encouraged to start plaiting new mat by looking at the old one, adding, “If we the old forks are neglected because of other reasons, it does not in any way suggest that the government should forget about us, especially when we made significant contributions to the army during our day.” The 80 year old retired general joined the army in 1962 and rose to the rank of general under the regime of the late President Samuel K. Doe. He served as Brigadier General for several years prior to the December 24, 1989 civil uprising that toppled Doe in 1990. He was commissioned as a Major General in the position of Deputy Chief of Staff under the late General Prince C. Johnson during the regime of former President Charles G. Taylor.Gen. Konah recalled that upon the death of Gen. Johnson, which was the result of a car accident, he succeeded him as Chief of Staff (COS) and later became Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.“I don’t like to undermine anybody in my life and I live quietly by minding my own affairs. I’ve always told my children to follow my example,”said retired Gen. Konah.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)
If not just a euphoric mood for opportunity to travel to the United States, then the 25 fellows of the 2016 Mandela Washington Fellowship will have much to impact Liberia as they have returned with great vigor and promise to share their experiences and fully exhibit what they learned at the six-week fellowship. The 25 Liberians, who left the country in June this year to participate in the fellowship with other Africans from across Africa, returned earlier this month with new skills in various areas of study including Business Entrepreneurship, Civil and Public Sector Management, Human Rights and other disciplines.Speaking on behalf of the group at a reception program organized by US Ambassador Christine Elders on August 23 in Monrovia, Patience Coleman-Beyan said, “We have returned with great vigor and experience, because during our stay for the six weeks in the United States, we saw people leaving their jobs during weekends to come and help us just by volunteering and we were inspired a lot.” In reference to the experience, Coleman-Beyan called on fellows to continue networking and liaise with one another in implementing any program a fellow wants to undertake, noting, “We are a team now; we should not let each other to go alone, but we should use the skills we learnt.” Coleman-Beyan, who works at the Civil Service Agency (CSA) as Director for Civil Service Reform Directorate said the training gives her the courage to take a new dimension by working with those in the public sector to reach the communities so the ordinary people will feel the impact of their work.She said she and her colleagues have decided to organize palava hut meetings to inform citizens on how government works, stressing that one challenge in the society is that people are not able to engage government and therefore do not know its functions.She added that ethical and moral challenges facing the country today are based on the roles of leaders.According to her, there are challenges in the United States just as there are in Africa, but when leaders are accountable to their citizens and setting good examples by their lives, Liberians will be able to deal with ethical issues.In an exclusive interview, one of the fellows, Daniel Riche said his experience in the United States showed him the importance of voluntarism as a way to promote community development.“Voluntarism is one thing that makes America great. People will volunteer their services to clean their cities on a weekend, and this helps the city authority to have the kind of city they want,” said Richie, who studied Civil Leadership during the MWF. “But in Liberia, we always want something in exchange before we volunteer our services.”Using his Civil Leadership training, he said he will be reaching his peers and others in his community to share his experience and embark on community projects through voluntarism.Expressing her excitement, US Ambassador to Liberia, Christine Elders, said the partnership between the Liberian Government and the Mandela Washington Fellowship is quite encouraging, and she was delighted to have the 25 fellows in the United States to share their experience and acquire another experience.She disclosed that some of the fellows could not return because they are there on internships and securing other project-related opportunities before returning home.She stressed that networking is essential to the program, and that fellows should always be reminded about getting together to network and share experience so as to meet the central objective of the Mandela Washington Fellowship.She said beneficiaries of the program were double during the 2016 fellowship, expressing the hope that it continues in successive fellowships to allow more Liberians to participate.The program began in 2010 under the name, “Young African Leaders Initiative” (YALI) during the first Administration of US President Barack H. Obama.At the 2014 edition, during a town hall meeting with participants, President Obama renamed the program, the “Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders.”During that occasion, the charismatic President inspired the fellows to use the training to network and bring the change they want to see on their continent. He told them not to politically challenge their leaders, but share ideas and innovatively design programs that will help to develop their communities and families as well.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)