Dear Editor,The Local Government Commission (LGC) was established by an Act of Parliament in 2013, under the People’s Progressive Party/Civic Administration. In the exercise of its functions, the Commission shall not be subject to the direction or control of any authority.The financial situation at the Local Government Commission is most atrocious and abominable. The staff and Commissioners are starved of finance. We are already halfway in the month of February and the staff are yet to receive January salaries and the Commissioners are awaiting their January emoluments. To date, neither Capital nor Current allocations as passed by the National Assembly in Budget 2019, have been paid over to the LGC.At the statutory meeting of the Commission on Tuesday, January 29, 2019, the Commission suspended the standing orders so as to make way to discuss the unpaid salaries and emoluments for January 2019.From the very beginning and the commencement of its operations, the Local Government Commission has experienced financial hostility from the Communities Ministry, and particularly Minister Ronald Bulkan. Members of the Commission are insisting that the Commission is a constitutional agency while the A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change outfit in the Government is of the view that the Commission is subject to the whims and fancies of the Communities Ministry.Section 17 of the Act clearly states, “The chairperson and members of the Commission shall receive such emoluments as may be provided for in the annual budget of the Commission, approved by the National Assembly.Section 18 states: “The expenses of the Commission shall be paid out of monies provided by Parliament.Section22 (2) states: ‘The remuneration and other terms and conditions of employment of the secretary and other officers and employees of the Commission shall be determined by the Commission.Section 24 (1) states: “The Commission shall determine its own annual budget for submission to the Minister of Finance for inclusion in the annual budget to the National Assembly.The Local Government Commission is an autonomous organisation and the Bulkan administration must allow the agency to function. Starving the LGC of finance and other basics funds for the utility services is most vindictive and unacceptable. The allocation must be made available to the Commission for them to execute their programme.Sincerely,Neil Kumar
The LNP has charged the Pastor of the Salvation Christ Deliverance Ministries, James Mulbah, with murder.Pastor Mulbah, according to the police, allegedly killed a 23-year old man, identified as Patrick Yeah, whom he accused of having a love affair with his wife. Pastor Mulbah told police investigators that he had earlier advised Mr. Yeah to abandon the love affair with his wife, but to no avail. This, the police said, prompted a fist fight between Pastor Mulbah and the accused. But during the melee, the Pastor “mistakenly” stabbed the victim with a pair of scissors in the groin, resulted in his death.The body of Mr. Yeah, who was a barber, was discovered in front of a warehouse marked, “Xinyan Trading Center” 60 feet away from where he and his colleagues usually do their hair cutting at the Sugar Hill Red light Community. The incident occurred on March 23.The remains of the late Patrick Yeah have since been turned over to his family, while police conduct an investigation.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)
CBL Headquarters in MonroviaJ. Yanqui ZazaHas the President of the Republic of Liberia, Mr. George Weah, addressed some of the discrepancies reported by the Kroll Investigating Team? The Kroll Investigating Team hired to audit the L$15B saga, as per the February 2019 report, stated that “…certain information provided by the CBL…contained inaccuracies and was incomplete…” Also, Kroll stated that it “…has identified discrepancies at every stage…” such as “…the movement of funds within and out of the CBL’s vaults.” It recommended that the Liberian government should reform managerial and its accounting system of the Central Bank of Liberia.In my view, President Weah has performed the easy task by appointing Mr. Jolue Aloysius Tarlue as the Executive Governor-designate of the Central Bank of Liberia and constituted the Board of Directors of the Central Bank of Liberia. Additionally, he and the Liberian Lawmakers should institute measures to address the controversy of the banknotes, the rapid depreciation of our currency, and other budgetary issues.Pertaining to the banknotes, Liberian officials state that the country should print L$35 billion banknotes because there is no money. Their statements are at variance with two different official Reports of the Central Bank. Liberian currency in circulation was L$19 billion on December 31, 2018, according to page #22 of the Audited Financial Statements of the Central Bank dated April 30, 2019.Also, the second report of the Central Bank of Liberia (i.e., called Central Bank Annual Report) stated that Liberia had bank Liquidity of 38,956,700,000 and currency outside of the bank to be L$17,671,840,000. Yet, none of these figures in these two reports mean anything to the Liberian officials who insist that there is no money to pay employees. More so, how is it possible for the 2M of the L$500 banknotes to disappear between April of 2019 to October of 2019? Or what happened to the 26M L$100 banknotes and/or the 25M L$50 banknotes? Should we assume that poor residents were the depositors who withdrew the $19B from the commercial banks? I say no.Count the Liberian currency: A good accounting system requires an entity (i.e., in this case, Liberia) to perform perpetual inventory (i.e., relying on bookkeeping entries, journal, ledger, balance sheet, etc.) and periodic system (i.e., physical count of the inventory to determine the ending inventory). Therefore, the government should take a physical count of Liberia’s banknotes of L$19 billion in circulation since the perpetual method is giving questionable results.This exercise should include obtaining identification of large withdrawals from the nine commercial banks since the completion of the April 30, 2019 external audit. It should be implemented, even if a new contractor prints L$5 billion, L$10 billion, L$22 billion or L$35 billion. This is because stabilizing the Liberian currency is far beyond the issues of paying salaries. Liberia’s economic system should reassure our foreign suppliers and manufacturers that Liberia’s financial system is authentic and has adequate reserves to pay back loans borrowed by the government, commercial banks, or local entrepreneurs.Add gold value to Liberia’s Net International Foreign Exchange Reserves: President Weah should write and request the Liberian Lawmakers to authorize an agency to mine gold from non-licensed gold field/land and increase Liberia’s Net International Foreign Exchange Reserves. The adding of gold values to our Net International Foreign Exchange Reserves should calm the fear of foreign suppliers who are informed that the Central Bank does not have money to refund or repay debt owed by local merchants. It is true that foreign banks do not pay interest income on gold deposited at their banks. However, gold values, which price is to hit $1,650 in 2020, can be exchanged and/or sold for values, which could increase our country’s Net International Foreign Exchange Reserves, and by extension, reduce the prices of goods and services in Liberia.Apply Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (ISA 16) and end selling government vehicles at book value and re-use them: Officials usually sell government’s vehicles after a few years in operation because the vehicles have reached their threshold (i.e., maybe set at $500 or $10,000), over which it depreciates as assets. In any case, why should a government that does not use depreciation expense to reduce taxable income become involved in enforcing the rules of depreciation?Yes, it should because, besides tax benefits, depreciation rules help government officials to document the useful life of assets they need to perform their duties. More so, unlike non-manufacturing countries such as Liberia, countries sell government’s properties (i.e., computers, vehicles, machines, etc.) as a part of economic benefits to entice and retain good-paying employers. So, Liberia should re-evaluate government vehicles and re-use them. Re-using vehicles would reduce our budgetary deficit and, by extension, reduce interest rates and increase poor people’s purchasing power. What is the method? The government, relying on Generally Accepted Accounting Principles rules IAS 16, can re-evaluate government vehicles and re-use them.Unearned revenue: The Liberian Revenue Authority, Central Bank of Liberia and others should prepare a schedule of reconciliation detailing earned income and unearned income, if not available. A schedule of reconciliation would help policymakers to understand that a portion of the government’s deposits at the Central Bank represents projected revenue for previous fiscal period or subsequent fiscal period. This schedule is even important since the Central Bank reports on a calendar basis, while the government prepares its budget on fiscal year (July 1 through June 30).I guess that a schedule of reconciliation would have provided information as to why the Central Bank reported that Liberia had a budgetary deficit of US$222 million in 2018. Instead of providing clarity about the US $222M deficit, authorities took down the 2018 Annual Report, which is contrary to Generally Accepted Accounting Principles — do not hide or take down information, do not erase and/or delete numbers.Schedule with explanation of budgetary numbers: It is true that “numbers cannot lie,” as per the old adage. However, those who prepare the documents might inflate numbers, underreport numbers, or misclassify numbers, causing readers and policymakers to make wrong decisions. The government ministries, agencies and all institutions involved in generating numbers should provide accurate and reliable numbers. The Finance Ministry should prepare a schedule and explain why Liberia’s revenue projections indicate that the country is not facing a financial crisis.For instance, after the deadly Ebola crisis, the government reported that the crisis affected our revenue. Yet, the Ministry of Finance projected US $442 million for 2013/2014 and US$484 million 2014/2015 after the Ebola years, amounts far higher than US$342 million in 2011/2012 and US $392 million in 2012/2013. Our revenue numbers did not reflect weak economic activity, rather the numbers implied that our economy was strong in 2013/2014 (i.e., Ebola years) as well as in 2014/2015 (i.e., post Ebola year).Fast forward to 2018. President Weah’s economic advisers stated that the country was broke and income generating activities were not doing well. They also stated that prices for major exports were down and many local companies (oil palm, etc.) were slowing down their economic activities such as laying off tax-paying employees. Again, the Finance Ministry has projected revenue numbers that indicate that our economy is strong. In 2018/2019, the revenue projection was US$562 million; US$511 million in 2019/2020; and US$528 million in 202/2021.As per the schedule below, the wage bill projections did not indicate that our economy was weak. For instance, none of the projections included salary harmonization because amounts allocated for the wage bills did not significantly change in 2018/2019, 2019/2020 and 2020/2021.President Weah and his economic advisers should begin to do the right thing, and everything else should be manageable.Part II next.Summary by economic classificationShare this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)
Region 10 (Upper Demerara-Berbice) Chairman Renis Morian on Thursday noted that he was concerned about the disappearance of payment contracts, as well as the untimely payments made by the Regional Democratic Council (RDC) to persons for services.A section of the those at the statutory meetingHe shed light on the issues as the Council hosted its first statutory meeting of 2019 at its office in Linden. According to the Regional Chairman, payment contracts are being misplaced at the office which has led to the duplication of the contracts and payments.Addressing Councillors on numerous challenges faced by the Council, Morian pointed to the issues, noting that these should be corrected in 2019.“Another area that is troubling us in the Council is the area of contracts… contracts keep disappearing,” the Regional Chairman noted.He also pointed to instances where he would have to redo contracts for payments at least twice, only for it to be misplaced again. More specifically, Morian highlighted one instance where one contract was prepared three times and two separate payments for the amount was issued.“I discovered, two payments come… Two payments come to the person… Somehow, we ain’t getting it right… Something ain’t right in the contracts area… we’re missing too many contracts…” he stressed. As such, Morian asked that the Regional Executive Officer (REO) and Deputy REO look into the area of contracts.“Payments got another issue… We got problems with payments… When you equate us with other regions, this region lagging behind in terms of the time we take to pay people… people, they ain’t conscious that these people work for this money and they want their payment,” Morian continued.In this regard, he said he spoke with Finance Minister Winston Jordan and requested training for staff and for diagnostics to be carried out to see where strengthening is needed.“I had a talk with the Minister of Finance and he asked me to put it in writing and I did put it in writing that I’m very dissatisfied that we ain’t getting it right where payments are concerned. People coming and row… and they got some people ain’t want supply things to us anymore because of the whole issue of payments taking too long. Now we got to correct that in 2019,” he stated.The REO Orrin Gordon said another contributing factor is the timely release of funds from the Central Ministry but noted that regardless, the system has to come up to scratch.“So while sometimes the document is downstairs (at the office) we are waiting on the releases to come… but that does not negate the fact… we need to ensure the payments are made faster,” he said.
Aiden Craig-Steele of the Fort St. John Midget Petroleum Tier 1 Flyers is a top five finalist for the grand prize of TSN’s highlight of the month. He advanced to the top five after voting was conducted online in February and March of a spin-o-rama shootout goal he scored.Finalists in the voting have the potential to win $500 while winners could win $1,000. There is also a grand prize up for grabs of $25,000 and a chance to meet TSN personalities as well as tickets to a to be determined sporting event.Those wanting to vote can do so by clicking the link provided. Voting ends April 3rd and you can vote every 24 hours. Every vote puts your name into a draw for a chance of winning $5,000.- Advertisement –