About two years ago, I was in a conversation with some people in Brooklyn Park, Minnesota, who accused the Liberian government of spending over US$ 200 million on lobbying in the United States. These individuals provided the website, www.foreignlobby.org as their source of information. I read all the reports on the website, but was curious that it was showing LISCR spending millions on lobbying. I called ProPublica and Sunlight Foundation, the two owners of the website, to get the source of their information. I was again referred to a US government website, www.fara.gov . For almost two years, I have made it my duty to learn how to navigate that website and understand the documents in there.In subsequent years, the story has grown from a basement discussion into a major social media topic. I am surprised that it is now a political hotcake in Monrovia. The information is readily available, so I do not understand the continued lingering of this issue, especially at the highest level of the government. I think political zealotry, an ineffective government bureaucracy and a press that is eager for scandal are the contributing factors. Did Liberia spend US$200,000,000 on lobbying in the United States? We will use the source, the FARA website to seek an answer.By the way, what is FARA? The Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) was enacted in 1938. FARA is a disclosure statute that requires persons acting as agents of foreign principals in a political or quasi-political capacity to make periodic public disclosure of their relationship with the foreign principal, as well as activities, receipts and disbursements in support of those activities. The agents being referred to here are US persons or firms. The foreign principals can either be a foreign government or a foreign company.Let it also be made clear that FARA is not solely responsible for reporting on lobbying. Its reporting scope is much wider. Transactions reported to FARA are not entirely related to lobbying; all kinds of professional services are reported to that US government agency. The Lobbying Disclosure Act of 1995 (LDA), 2 U.S.C. § 1601, administered by Congress is strictly about lobbying.We will now examine the Government of Liberia, its agencies and Liberian companies that have appeared in reports to congress – requirement of FARA – for the period January 2006 to December 2012. The Government of Liberia (GOL), the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of State and Presidential Affairs and a Liberian company, AmLib United Minerals are the entities from Liberia mentioned in all the reports covering the period. The United States firms that have dealt with these entities are LISCR; KRL International; JWI, LLC; Cleary, Gottlieb, Steen & Hamilton, LLP; Radelet, Steven Charles (Center for Global Development) and BKSH & Associates. Please find below a table summarizing the relationships and transactions between them:Transactions for Liberia as reported to FARAThe $200M lobbying talk in Monrovia is much ado about nothing. My accounting instinct tells me that somebody is misreading reports. As shown in my table above, the claim that the government of Liberia has spent over $200,000,000 on lobbying for the period covering 1/1/2006 to 12/31/2012 is erroneous. I do not work for nor represent the Government of Liberia, but as an individual who desires an honest and sincere fight against corruption, that is void of politics, I felt constrained to provide the facts I have gleaned from study of these documents. An additional purpose of this letter is to move this conversation away from political rhetoric and sentiments to one based purely on facts and evidence. I am open to a serious rebuttal from folks who can provide solid facts contrary to those I have outlined.Some will attempt to use Alex Knotts’ Roll Call article, “Lobbying by Foreign Countries Decreases”, as one of the sources to support their argument. Knott’s article makes a passing reference to Liberia spending $45.9 M in 2010; however he provides no data to substantiate this claim. If he used the information on the FARA website for his September 15, 2011 article, he made a faulty conclusion by including the LISCR transactions as lobbying fees. I have written him series of letters to disprove his piece, but he has not responded to my letters. Anybody can follow up with him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks for giving me an opportunity to contribute to a national discourse..* My sources are semi-annual reports to congress (listed on the website) and supplemental statements for each of the registrants that dealt with Liberia in the six years (2006 to 2012)Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)
The Minister of Posts and Telecommunications, Dr. Fredrick B. Nrokeh foresees the economic viability of the country as hanging on the focus of the government to making the manufacturing sector the degree of economic growth that the country truly deserved.According to him, Liberia will only experience dramatic economic growth when the manufacturing sector becomes fully functional, because, “the country is blessed with enormous resources that can be transformed into finished products for both domestic and foreign consumption.Minister Norkeh spoke over the weekend during program marking the launch of the Panzsir Cosmetics LLC in Brewerville, Outside Monrovia on the theme, “Soft, Sweet, Shinny, Skin is here to Stay.”He said the economy of the country will certainly experience dramatic economic growth when the manufacturing sector is fully functional, because, according to him, Liberia is blessed with enormous resources that can be transformed into finished products for domestic and foreign consumption.Manufacturing, he asserted, will help to reduce cost to consumers making the country’s trade and commerce a competitive market.“I am of the conviction that no matter what type of economic model Liberia may wish to apply, development of the manufacturing sector must be considered as a critical arm for the economic.Minister Norkeh pointed out that no developed or under developed country has been successful in terms of dramatic economic growth without huge investments in the manufacturing sector, especially where raw materials are in abundance.”As a government, he said, they need to prioritize sector with greatest potential for economic growth, which in his mind, are priorities that are necessary for the development and sustainability of the manufacturing sector.Launching the products on the Market earlier, the Vice President of Liberia, Joseph Nyumah Boakai lauded the Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Kokpor Daynuah for such a “farsighted innovation in producing cosmetic products in the country.”Veep Boakai said it was important for Liberians to produce their owned products in the country which, according to him, will help create jobs for the jobless youth. “I am surprised to see a young and determined man producing cosmetics in Liberia—“Made in Liberia.” This signifies Liberians readiness to take over their owned economy.”He said the products that are made in the country by a young Liberian means a lot for us, “because the young man has used his knowledge to bring about technology that will benefit everyone, especially the products made in the cosmetic industry.”VP Boakai used the platform and encouraged other young Liberians to emulate the CEO of Panzsir Cosmetics Company to do likewise. He then promised Panzsir’s CEO that he would use his office to communicate with stakeholders, especially the Ministry of Commerce, and other business partners to promote the product on the market.The Panzsir Company, Mr. Daynuah said, is a dream comes true because it is the first company to manufacturer of beauty products in Liberia.During his busiest time in his career, Mr. Daynuah said, his targeted goal was to become the first to manufacture high quality personal care products in the country that Liberians can be pride of and to call it their owned.Mr. Daynuah, a Liberian Chemists and entrepreneurs officially started Panzsir Company about five months ago in the mist of lots of difficulties including the absence of electricity.“I used generator to run the largest equipment. With all these difficulties I still believe strongly that Liberia is the best place to make business.”Manufacturing Panzsir here, he said, will add value to crops such as coconut and palm trees which will eventually create jobs for villagers and the entire agriculture supply chain.Panzsir, according to Mr. Daynuah, will soon be investing in a grinding machine on a plantation in Sinoe, as well as meeting coconut oil demand, and create jobs for villages in Sinoe County.Panzsir other goals are to also build a plant in Ganta that will be able to manufacture various personal care products such as styling gel, body wash, shampoo, soap, hair grease and amongst other.Panzsir was developed in the United States of America as the first company that manufactured personal care products in Liberia. Few of the products are interestingly are handy-work (fabricated) by Mr. Daynuah and coworkers’ hands.The company pride itself in using Liberians research and development of a product that caters to the needs of the customers.“We have worked diligently to provide our consumers with products that are dependable and made with highest quality,” Chemist Daynuah boasted. Meanwhile, Mr. Daynuah said Panzsir’s success depends on the Liberian people to ensure that they take ownership of their market by buying the “Made in Liberia” Products.He however called on the Ministry of Commerce, Finance, National Investment Commission (NIC) and the media to promote Panzsir on the Liberian market.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)
As the campaign for the ensuing Special Senatorial Election begins today across the country, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has called on Liberians to be peaceful in the process, while at the same time abiding by the preventive measures that have helped to reduce the rate of Ebola infection in the country.The President told the nation in her address last night that after a thorough consultative process, the National Elections Commission (NEC), announced December 16, as the date set for the conduct of the election throughout the 15 counties. This date has been endorsed by the National Legislature and the President.The NEC also set November 20th as the date for the beginning of campaign activities, which are expected to end 24 hours before polls open in three weeks.She further stated that her government, through its requisite institutions, is putting into place stringent measures that will guide the campaign process and ensure that Liberians keep safe during this period.“As campaigning starts on the next day [today], it is my responsibility and my duty to remind you all politicians, voters and election workers that we will put in place stringent measures contained in our health laws that everyone must and will abide by. We all know there is no hugging or shaking of hands. We mean it and we want people to take it seriously,” she said.The President Sirleaf disclosed that the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare in collaboration with agencies and partners, under the public health law, will be announcing a number of preventive measures today to ensure that “we all stay safe, especially during this electoral period.”President Sirleaf also indicated that NEC will give out guidelines and protocols that all must abide by. “We can only enjoy democracy when we are healthy and alive. Although we continue to see decline in the number of new cases of Ebola, we must not relent our efforts. We must not lay down our guides and we must not become complacent,” she pleaded.She noted that as much as the measures are intended to keep Liberians safe, she will endorse all of the preventive measures and will direct that they be strictly followed.She said that the measures are not intended to stop anyone campaigning or interacting with the people, but government wants to ensure that people are protected.“One of the cardinal pillars of democracy is the right for the people to elect their leaders. This is a fundamental exercise that most time take place at certain times,” she added.She recalled that Liberians should have gone to the poll on October 14 this year to elect 15 senators whose terms will expire at the end of the year, but during that time the country was deep in a health crisis that did not allow the process to take place.“These elections are important, but they are being held under very difficult circumstances. We still have the deadly Ebola virus in our country and the neighboring countries of Guinea and Sierra Leone. This places a new responsibility on all of us to ensure that the political activities that will be carried out during the campaign and the voting do not lead to a resurgence of the epidemic,” she said.President Sirleaf further said, “People will be meeting in places in groups for campaigning. When the times comes to vote, we will line up to vote this could lead to serious risk. While we are sustaining our democracy, we have decided to put in place measures that would safe guide us more.”“We want democracy, we want to elect people, but we want to do so keeping all of us healthy, making sure that we don’t return to those difficult days.”President Sirleaf indicated that Liberians can still remember how bad things were several weeks ago and now there are progresses, but one cannot talk about success as long as there is one case of Ebola.Finally, she told everyone, “True essence of democracy is to compete on the basis of ideas – ideas about how we improve the lives of the people we aspire to lead. This will mean that candidates will disagree. But I know we can disagree and exchange our ideas, as well as afford the voters a chance to understand our values, without resorting to mudslinging or violence.”President Sirleaf wished all the candidates well and urged them to stand up for tolerance which will lend their campaigns to civil discussions through which voters will know them better.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)
Dear Editor,I have read with some consternation the comments about the work of the Auditor General that were made by Minister of State Joseph Harmon, which were published by the Stabroek News on February 25, 2018 – comments that amount to nothing less than an attack on a constitutional office holder.Editor, several offices are granted constitutional protection to ensure that they can perform their functions, in the interest (above all) of maintaining democratic gains, and holding the Executive to account. Attacks of the nature seen by Minister Harmon are unacceptable. For an Administration that promised accountability and transparency ahead of taking office in May 2015, the Minister’s comments represent a brazen about-face.In this case the investigation by the Auditor General involves spending of over one billion of taxpayers’ dollars. It is no small matter. Minister Harmon criticised the Auditor General for publicly commenting on the ongoing investigation of the D’Urban Park Development Project and for reaching out to a private company for information instead of the Government. However, it was this Government that admitted to paying over taxpayers’ monies to a private company for the D’Urban Park Project. Regardless of the views of this coalition Government, the majority of the Guyanese people, I believe, welcome the work of the Auditor General, given that much about the project is shrouded in secrecy.What we do know is that the development of the D’Urban Park Project started in September 2015 and Government had stated that donors were supporting the completion of the project.We know that from November 2016 to January 22, 2016, there is no account of what monies were collected, who collected it, who authorised collection, nor how it was spent.We know that from January 22, 2016 to April 21, 2016, the private company, according to Minister David Patterson, had control of financing and managing the project. The private company is Homestretch Development Incorporated (HDI), which was reportedly established, fast-tracked the completion of the D’Urban Park Project. We know that a Government Minister, Rupert Roopnaraine, is a Director of HDI. The other Directors include Larry London, Babita Ram, Victor Wilson and G Miller.We know that from April 21, 2016 to date, millions have been spent on the project. We know that to date there has been no documentation that inspires any confidence that this project was undertaken in a transparent manner.The D’Urban Park Project is the least of the many issues that have been raised in the public domain – when it comes to millions being spent in a manner that is less than transparent. It is also the least of the issues that have been raised as it relates to a breach of basic procurement rules.Lest we forget, it was none other the Auditor General himself who recorded 18 breaches of the Procurement Act in 2015 and 71 breaches in 2016. The Auditor General also noted that there were 21 breaches of the Fiscal Management and Accountability Act in 2015 and 82 of the same in 2016.Editor, given the importance of the work done by offices like that of the Auditor General, silence in the face of continued attacks on constitutional office holders will leave our nation ruinously disadvantaged as a developing democracy.Sincerely,Adrian Anamayah,Member of ParliamentPeople’s ProgressiveParty/Civic
Dear Editor,If counselling is already available in each region, as recently pointed out by Chief Education Officer Marcel Hutson, shouldn’t the Ministry of Education ensure that all parents are aware of where and how this counselling can be accessed?Also, should there not be, at the minimum, trained lay counsellors at schools, to ensure each school has a minimum level of expertise to identify and refer all cases requiring counselling?And should there not also be a law mandating teachers to report issues such as suspected abuse, suicide ideation et al?As well, with the move to set up a mobile counselling unit, which will be driven into different areas (and) communities based upon the needs, how would this work for regions that can only be accessed by air?And what about the amount of time it would take to travel to distant areas such as, for example, Corriverton or the Pomeroon? And how effective would such a unit be, given that counselling is not a one-off measure, but has to be ongoing to ensure desired results? In fact has a cost benefit analysis been done with respect to this unit? With a pool of trained counsellors now available, would it not be less costly in terms of money, time and results to initially have all education districts staffed with trained counsellors who can also access other available needed resources? And with UG now offering a psychology program, secondary schools can also have their own counsellors within a few years.Sincerely,The Caribbean Voice
Dear Editor,Now that the video is circulating on social media, I think that, as decency dictates, it is within Minister Simona Broomes’s best interest to publicly apologise to the security guards, since it is now evident that she lied to at least help maintain a professional image on the Government’s behalf.It is unfortunate that the people we elect to control our affairs get power drunk so easily. Mr. President, does this minister exemplify the characteristics of a “fit and proper” leader of the nation you pilot? Is this the leadership you promised?First it was ‘Boom out’ in the Parliament; now Minister Broomes is again in the public spotlight for getting two security guards locked up because, for some reason, she thinks “No Parking signs” are below her stature. At what point does David Granger say this minister is not observing the Code of Conduct, or is not behaving in a manner expected of anyone that holds public office, and reprimand or deal with her the way Kamla Persad-Bissessar dealt with Collin Partap in his DUI case?I understand that Minister Volda Lawrence has made an attempt to apologise on the administration’s behalf, but that is unacceptable because an apology is demanded from the subject minister. I wish Guyanese people would demand better from our Government, to ensure that salt is poured on the wounds of the perpetrators who break the laws and mismanage public affairs in public offices.Minister Broomes, in the name of decency and dignity, I’m appealing to you to be an adult, a professional, a deserving holder of public office, a leader, and let go of the ignorance and do the ethical thing: apologise.Sincerely,A young Guyanesehoping for a better political future for Guyana
Dear Editor,This exposure of tender board officials caught on camera removing documents and the police having to be called in is a very worrisome incident for the following reasons:It shows the deception and dishonesty that have penetrated our society and what has happened to our people. Since people in Guyana, it now seems, can be induced ‘to sell their souls to the devil’ for a few pieces of printed, coloured paper called “money” which will give them temporary luxury yet still demolish their soul for a lifetime for which they will have to pay. This deceit and corruption seems to preponderate more so in recent times than in previous.Anytime humanity does a wrong thing either steal (or commit criminal actions) or lie in thoughts or verbally, something triggers in their body or mind. That is why the lie detector or polygraph machine can pick up when a person is lying. Their heartbeat changes and the body’s biological and psychological systems trigger and tells you that you are doing wrong or not being honest. This is called the human conscience.This is a serious offence when persons go and tender and their submitted, sealed, tender documents are tampered with. Tendering is an expensive process. A simple tender may cause GY$50,000 to GY$250,000 and may even cause millions of dollars to put up a bid, for the 2 per cent bid security, for documents, preparation, and management. In this reported case, I believe that the police department has to put tremendous amounts of pressure on this implicated person so that he can reveal the name/s of the person/s who was paying him to commit this illegal practice.I have observed, as a child growing up from our time of independence, that this level of corruption seems to have impregnated our nation and society with deception, evil, and corrupt activities, from the political uppermost level to the man in the street. We have a serious dilemma – when anyone can go and tamper with sealed tender bidding documents so that their friends or associates can win a tender is a sad state of affairs.I am saying this because I know Guyana and Guyanese, as well as the level of corruption. I previously suffered from a similar incident of this nature some time ago, and when I called the then Chairman of the Tender Board (during the past administration) he was refuting the accusations of corruption and saying that the tender box is where everyone can see it, but I suggested that a camera be installed around the area of the tender box because persons with possession of the keys can enter and tamper with the submitted tender documents.Needless to say that my suggestion went unheeded. In my case, my submitted entire bidding tender document package disappeared from the tender box after my company certified that they submitted it. So this meant that we were watched and one gentleman in the security industry was my main suspect because he was always bragging of his conquests of tampering with submitted tenders aided by his political connections (this conclusion was also formed because of my police investigative skills which I was born with and studied and developed over time).This same gentleman was also responsible for submitting fake GRA documents and NIS compliances, and only because his illegal actions were discovered, I was able to garner the Government regional security tenders for Regions Two, Three, Four, Five and Six. Corruption in the security tendering process in this country is nothing new and it has gone to such a level that it ‘boggles’ the human mind. This is only security service tenders that I am referring to here. Imagine what goes on in buildings, sea walls, schools and road projects. The road projects specifically! One can only imagine what goes on in their tendering processes. One gentleman previously told me that I can get Regions One, Seven, Eight and Nine regional security tenders if I give him three million dollars and that the previous guy who won the bids went to KFC and pack money in the boxes – “five million dollars” – and give it to them.I told him that I do not get involved in such corrupt practices and live with a humble disposition so that my children and children’s children lives would not be affected, and the earnings that I have would not bring my family into disrepute and that the universe will not “spite” me because I believe in this karmic order of things in which for the evils we commit and for the sins we commit “two by two”, we pay for them “one by one”( it is my belief).Persons are tendering below cost and one or two persons are always winning all the Government and regional contracts. If persons in the Government should do an audit, they will see massive manipulation of the taxes (GRA, NIS, PAYE, VAT etc), fake GRA and compliance certificates submitted, awarding of contracts to known international criminals, etc.I had the experience of persons taking away 95 per cent of my security businesses and that was as a result of a few persons who maliciously wanted to ruin me financially and install their friends and families. The major part of RK Guyana Security Services was always linked to Government contracts since 1979 when the business was first established with GY$7.50 immediately after the 2015 elections, 95 per cent of its businesses were lost. I reported this to the Public Procurement Commission (PPC) and the Chairperson of the Commission, who did not do her job and failed to investigate, said it was a matter for the Permanent Secretary of another Ministry.So, it boggles the mind why people would do such evil practices and why the PPC would shirk from its terms of references to be impartial and professional. Here is another example: I won a security contract after a lot of work and cost. But a few hours just before I started, it was terminated for convenience. Cabinet gave the no objection and the tender award was approved by the tender board and the evaluators which came from the Ministry of Education (this matter is sadly now before the courts). So there is corruption in high places and it is painful and hurtful.But such an experience would not cause me to publicly abuse the Government or become disrespectful. I respond by logic, intellect, wisdom, communication, and the avenues of redress available to me eg the Public Procurement Commission (PPC) which failed our company and for which I have lost respect, in this case which is now before the courts.Corruption is rife and rampant in Guyana and I hope that one day we can come out of this and the persons who induce these evaluators with financial rewards (con and paper money) to commit such illegal acts which will destroy their careers, their honour, cause them to go to prison. These are truly evil persons and should be dealt with. I pray for my country, I want this country to develop and grow and for it to prosper and be enhanced. Corruption is eating away at the very heart of our country.Sincerely,Roshan Khan Snr
Prison riot CoIThe report on the findings of the Commission of Inquiry (CoI) into the deadly March 3, 2016 Camp Street Prison riot is expected to be submitted to President David Granger today May 31, 2016.Camp Street Prison where the riot unfoldedPresident David GrangerGuyana Times was informed last Wednesday that the Commission did not request an extension beyond May 31 and as such, the report will be submitted. This expected submission comes after two months of lengthy, at oftentimes emotional testimonies from witnesses and heated cross examinations by attorneys which concluded on May 9.The CoI began on March 8 and was expected to conclude on March 28; however, the Commission applied for a two-month extension which was granted. On April 20, the Guyana Bar Association withdrew, citing time constraints in cross examination of witnesses.It was after two days of rioting at the Camp Street penitentiary that 17 inmates died after fire engulfed the Capital A Block on March 3 with scores of prisoners trapped.The fires were reportedly set by protesting prisoners.President Granger who serves as Chairman of the National Security Committee then ordered an inquiry into the fire after inmates met with Minister of State Joseph Harmon and Public Security Minister, Kemraj Ramjattan.At that meeting, the inmates and ministers reached a “gentleman’s agreement” where some of the concerns of the prisoners were addressed.These negotiations were however criticized by some sections of society.Outlined in the terms of reference, which covered the period March 2 to 4, the CoI aimed to enquire into all the circumstances surrounding the deaths of the prisoners on the morning of March 3, 2016; to report the findings and conclusions to the Minister of Public Security; and to make recommendations on any action that should be taken to avoid a recurrence.When the witness statements had concluded, Commission Counsel Excellence Dazzel noted that witness’ testimonies along with many other materials which the Commission had in its possession would have been used to compile the report.The Commission was able to secure the testimonies of inmates, an ex-inmate, fire officials, Police officials, Prison officials, a former prison official, a Pathologist, the Chief Medical Officer, the Chief Probation Officer, Chairman of the Parole Board and the Chancellor of the Judiciary.“The Commission has before it several reports and other materials which it will be utilising in conjunction with the previously mentioned testimonies, to formulate its report,” Dazzel explained to the media.Retired Justice James Patterson served as Chairman of the Commission of Inquiry while Dale Erskine and Merle Mendonca served as Commissioners.
Under the theme, “United Struggles for Workers’ Rights, Democracy and a Secure Future,” the Guyana Agricultural and General Workers’ Union (GAWU) will organise its 21st Delegates Congress to be held from August 20- 23, at Bath, West Coast Berbice.It is expected that hundreds of delegates coming from GAWU’s wide range of memberships; with majority being the field and factory workers of the largest Unit – the Guyana Sugar Corporation Inc (GuySuCo), will be present at the Union’s highest decision-making forum along with a number of fraternal organisations.With its packed programme expecting to last three days, the Congress will ensure that workers are given recognition for their devoted service to the Union.The assembly for these delegates will also allow the presentation of the General Council’s report with discussions which would cover a variety of issues and include a broad assessment of specific global events, as well as the domestic developments since the previous congress among other important topics.After being elected by the Congress delegates, the new General Council of the Union will be tasked with fulfilling the decisions and finding solutions, which will then be disputed and permitted by the Congress.The Union expressed pride in having represented and protected it’s entity from attempts which served to create division, since their last congress, highlighting that with an optimistic approach, they have intentions for their unity and militancy will ensure a industrious congress.
A man has been killed following a mining accident in Omai Gold Mine in region seven (Cayuni/ Mazaruni on Tuesday, the Ministry of Natural Resources has said late Tuesday evening.The Ministry confirmed that there was at least one fatality on Tuesday as a result of a mining accident in the Omai area.While all the facts are still yet to be determined, reports are that an excavator was trying to lower an engine into a mining pit when it toppled and the operator became submerged resulting in the fatality.There are no details at this time regarding the identity of the person who is reported to have died.