Where Did US$14m Go?

first_imgIn spite of budgetary allocations totaling US$14 million between 2010 and 2014 for the renovation of the Executive Mansion, the project appears to have no end in sight and Lawmakers want to know why.  Therefore, a three-member Joint Committee comprising Public Works, Executive and Public Accounts, is expected to advise the 73-member Plenary of the House of Representatives on the status of the renovation of the Executive Mansion.The advisement of the Joint Committee will entail whether the delay on the renovation works is legitimate or not.The Executive Mansion, situated on Capitol Hill, Monrovia, is the official seat of the Liberian Presidency. It was constructed in 1964 under the regime of the late Liberian President William Vacanarat Shadrach Tubman by 2,000 workers, including about a fifth of Monrovia’s labor force, and 150 foreign technicians.The imposing, eight-storey Mansion, which costs US$20 million, is equipped with a bomb shelter, an underground swimming pool, a private chapel, a trophy room, a cinema, an emergency power plant, water supply and sewage system, among others.But the Executive Mansion was damaged by fire in 2006, during Liberia’s 159th Independence Day celebration, in the presence of three West African leaders at a time when the then newly elected President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf switched on electricity to reach limited parts of the capital city.At the time, the cause of the fire at the Executive Mansion, according to South African forensic scientists, was an electrical fault.Following the fire outbreak at the Executive Mansion, the Government of Liberia (GOL) announced a closure of the Mansion, and President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf relocated to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, where she has been performing her official functions since then.In the wake of the unfortunate incident, the National Legislature has over the fiscal periods appropriated the amounts of US$973,496 (2010/2011FY), US$1,230,078 (2011/2012FY), 2,000,000 (2012/2013FY) US$6, 466,667 (2013/ 2014FY) and US$6, 466,667 (2014/2015) for the renovation of the Mansion under the Public Sector Investment Plan and Technical Services budget of the Ministry of State for Presidential Affairs.The total amount that has been allocated for the renovation of the Executive Mansion stands at US$14,933,334.A preliminary probe on the ruined Executive Mansion was made on Thursday, November 27 after the reading of a formal communication addressed to that August Body by Grand Bassa County District # 4 Representative Jeh Byron Brown.His communication was read during the 24th day sitting of the Extraordinary Session of the House of Representatives. A motion for the acceptance of the Grand Bassa County lawmaker’s communication was filed by Nimba County Representative Worlea Saywah-Dunah.In an interview with legislative reporters at his Capitol Building office in Monrovia, Rep. Brown stated that the Mansion is not only the official home of the Liberian President, but it also hosts reception and accommodates foreign guests and dignitaries.The Capitol Building is the seat of the Legislature.Speaking further, Rep. Brown recalled that for over five years, the Liberian government has been using local hotels to host foreign guests and dignitaries entering into the country. This, he said, has caused a huge loss of money to the Liberian government.He asserted that the money was exclusively set aside by the Legislature not only for the renovation of the Executive Mansion, but also for the relocation of the offices of the Ministry of State for Presidential Affairs.He termed as “unfair” to the Liberian people the prolonged delay in the rehabilitation of the Executive Mansion.The Grand Bassa lawmaker averred that the renovation contracts were given to the Chinese Company CNQC QINGJIAN International, Liberia Group Development Incorporated and others (whom he did not name) that were hired to carry out the work, but the work is yet to be accomplished.”In an effort to restore the physical structure and other important architecture of the building, this Legislative body has consistently placed money in the National Budget since the occurrence of the ill-fated event. I believe it will be an appreciated undertaking as a matter of fulfilling a crucial Legislative oversight, were we to inquire into the current state of the Executive Mansion with particular reference to the level of work that has been done in commensuration with the amount of financial resources that have been approved over the budget years,” the Liberty Party lawmaker stated.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

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CBL Blamed for Increment in Forex Rate

first_imgAssistant Secretary General of the National Foreign Exchange Bureau of Liberia (NAFIBOL), Nimely Saye, frowns on the CBL’s continuous failure to address the exchange rate issue on the Liberian market. But Ex SG of Money Changers Association Blames Supply and DemandThe assistant secretary general of the National Foreign Exchange Bureau of Liberia (NAFIBOL), Nimely Saye, has blamed the Central Bank of Liberia (CBL) for the high increase in the US-Liberian dollar exchange rate on the Liberian market, because of its inability to regulate the forex market.Saye made the remarks yesterday in an exclusive interview with the Daily Observer at his forex bureau on Broad Street, when he indicated that the supervision and regulations department at the CBL has failed to work in the interest of legal foreign exchangers, thereby leaving the market open.He said if the CBL does not put the situation under control now, the exchange rate would reach L$150 to US$1 by July, “because of the current open market situation.”Saye, who has been in the forex business for over 15 years, indicated that the situation continues to hamper legal exchangers in paying their taxes, rent, salaries, and other fees.He said despite a series of meetings with authorities of the bank to intervene in the ongoing situation on the Liberian market, they (bank authorities) appear unmoved by their concerns.“We are not benefiting under Governor Milton A. Weeks’ administration, because there are many illegal foreign exchangers in the various street corners that are changing at their own rate, including cement depots, gas stations, rice depots, supermarkets, and stores thereby hampering the legal forex business,” Saye said.According to him, the protection of legal exchangers by the Central Bank of Liberia can easily stabilize the exchange rate on the market in the shortest possible time.He said, “We had a blissful time with the Dr. J. Mills Jones administration, because of his ability to listen and willingness to work with the legal bureaus and the association.“This led to a stable rate on the Liberian market that would last for three to four months consistently without any daily or weekly increment, from L$88, 89, and 90 to US$1.”According to him, there are many illegal forex businesses than legal ones which, he said, deserves serious attention by the government, particularly the CBL, adding, “We have only 103 registered bureaus across the country.”“The CBL takes seven to eight months nowadays before coming to get rid of illegal foreign exchangers. The bank needs to get rid of them on the market or press on them to legalize their status and operate under CBL regulations.“Everyone is changing money without any restriction, which has a serious consequence on the economy and the country. We are the middlemen between the commercial bank, Central Bank, and business people, but we are not given the opportunity to play our role well,” he said.Saye said commercial banks, cement depots, gas stations, and rice depots do not have the right to engage in the money exchange business due to the lack of license from the CBL, but they nonetheless continue to do such a business, which is currently affecting the country.He said the association is confident that the Weah administration will work to have the situation addressed, stating, “We can only get a better result in the country and the economy if the CBL takes action against illegal forex businesses.”Saye called on President George Weah to issue an Executive Order, which he believes will help to reduce or stabilize the exchange rate and also ensure that those who are not licensed to operate as money exchangers in the country are barred from doing so.“We all observed that few hours to President Weah’s State of the Nation Address, the rate dropped because money exchangers didn’t have money. If the business people hold on to their money, it will be a serious problem,” he stated.“In 1999, the Central Bank of Liberia enacted a law establishing the Foreign Exchange Bureau and since the act was created, we have been protected according to the laws.”However the first secretary general of the Liberia Money Changers Association, Mr. Idrissa Kaba has objected to the claim that the CBL is responsible for the high exchange rate of the Liberian dollar to the US dollar.“Every student of economics,” Kaba said, “will realize that what is happening between the US dollar and the Liberian dollar is the issue of supply and demand and not because there are what someone will describe as ‘illegal money changers’ in the country.”Kaba said “The supply of the US dollar is lower than that of the Liberian dollar on the market and that is the reason the demand for the US dollar has affected the Liberian dollar.” He added that if the Liberian government can provide dollars to all major foreign businesses, including the huge supermarkets, Club Beer, Coco Cola, CEMENCO, among others, the pressure would naturally reduce on the Liberian dollar and it will normalize the exchange rate.Central Bank of Liberia in a release issued by Mr. Cyrus Wleh Badio, Head of Corporate Communications, said yesterday that despite an end-of-year press conference on December 21, 2017 on the state of the Liberian economy, stories still linger about alleged illegal capital transfers. These stories linger because the statistics that the Central Bank of Liberia (CBL) has released have been taken out of context and/or simply misunderstood.“It is therefore important, that the CBL clarifies these stories to prevent speculations that have the propensity to undermine the credibility and stability of the financial sector and by extension present wrong signals to the public including our development partners, current and potential investors, among others.“During the December 2017 Press Conference, the CBL disclosed that between November 2016 and October 2017, outward personal remittances amounted to US$449.41 million while during that same period, Liberia received US$545.78 million in inward personal remittance, representing a net gain of US$96.37 million.“The US$449 million mentioned comprised all transfers in cash made by residents to non-residents and transfers between resident and non-resident individuals on one hand. On the other hand, it also comprised transfers of income of border, seasonal, and other short-term workers who are employed in the economy where they are not resident. It is the total of all monies remitted through Western Union, MoneyGram, Ria (another money transfer operator) and via SWIFT1 by individuals and/or businesses to the rest of the world.“Furthermore, reporting that there was US$449.41 in outward personal remittance in 2017 does not in any way suggest that the money was transmitted directly from the CBL or transmitted to unidentified foreign accounts. The CBL wishes to emphasize that the sources of the monies that were remitted were not from the Central Bank of Liberia. In addition, nowhere in the CBL publication does the issue of unidentified foreign accounts arise.“For the calendar year 2017 (i.e. January-December, 2017), provisional statistics show that the total outflows of personal remittances amounted to US$445.3 million. Of this amount, about 31.5 percent was transferred through Money Transfer Operators (i.e. Western Union, MoneyGram, and RIA) while the remaining 68.5 percent were through banks using SWIFT. Most of the SWIFT transactions (which constituted 68.5 percent of the total outflows) were carried out by businesses engaged in construction activities, rice and frozen food importation, auto parts, supermarkets and trading businesses, among others.“Over the last 2 years, preceding the elections period, the total outflows of personal remittances grew from US$293.4 million in 2015 to US$304.6 million in 2016. The growth in total outflow in 2017 largely reflects responses within the economy to uncertainty that may have been associated with the then impending elections. Where there is uncertainty, there will be outflow of funds. It is important, however, to once again emphasize that the total outflow of remittances mentioned is an aggregate of personal remittances from various sources and NOT transfers made by officials of Government or to unknown accounts as is being wrongly perceived.“The Central Bank of Liberia welcomes public scrutiny, especially from the media, but this must be done in good faith,” the statement said.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

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Wenger on Sterling links: ‘I do not bid for anybody at the moment’

first_img Raheem Sterling in action for Liverpool 1 Arsene Wenger refused to be drawn on whether he will make a move for Liverpool forward Raheem Sterling but says he will be active in the transfer market during the summer.Sterling could be heading through the exit door at Anfield following the latest reports that the England striker is expected to tell Brendan Rodgers that he wants to leave at the end of the season.Arsenal have been strongly linked with a move for the 20-year-old who is emerging as one of the best young talents in Europe.But Wenger is adamant he will not enter any transfer negotiations until the end of May when the season has finished.Wenger said: “I do not bid for anybody at the moment. In the summer we will bid for people. At the moment we are not in transfer mode at all.“We want to finish our season well. We have put massive effort in since the start of the season to come back into a potentially good position in the Premier League, and now we need to focus on finishing well.“We have put so much effort in that it would be stupid not to finish the job well. The transfer period comes after the FA Cup final.“You absolutely want me to say something that I don’t want to say. I don’t like to lie. If I say that I will and I don’t do it, then I have lied.”last_img read more

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