Liberia: How Did State-owned Enterprises and Integrity Institutions Fare?

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Monrovia – In Liberia, State Owned Enterprises (SOE), remains a key part of Liberia’s economic growth responsible for generating millions, if not billions in revenue annually. Some 20 SOEs are government-owned and make up several sectors including port services, airport and civil aviation, electricity supply, oil and gas, water and sewage, agriculture and forestry, maritime, petroleum importation and storage, and information/communications services.

The SOE sector remains a key part of Liberia’s economic development agenda and is guided by the Public Financial Management (PFM) Law of 2009 which sets out rules governing SOE management and operations.

Among the major contributors to the economy are the National Port Authority (NPA), Liberia Electricity Corporation (LEC), Roberts International Airport (RIA), Liberia Civil Aviation Authority (LCAA), National Oil Company of Liberia (NOCAL), Forestry Development Authority (FDA), Liberia Maritime Authority (LMA), Liberia Petroleum Refining Corporation (LPRC), Liberia Water and Sewer Corporation (LWSC), Liberia Telecommunication Authority (LTA), and the Liberia Telecommunications Corporation (Libtelco).

Ironically, over the past decade, a lot of these SOEs have found themselves on the receiving end of allegations of corruption and mismanagement. This is where the integrity institutions come in. For the thirteenth straight year, we bring you our assessment of the SOEs and the integrity institutions as we continue our year-end grading of government institutions in Liberia.

LIBERIA EXTRACTIVE INDUSTRIES TRANSPARENCY INITIATIVE (LEITI)

Gabriel Nyenkan

THE LOWDOWN: What used to be one of the most vibrant integrity bodies in Liberia lost much if not all of its relevance during the year under review. Part of a global Standard to promote the open and accountable management of extractive resources, LEITI works through a Secretariat guided by a multi-stake holder arrangement comprising the Government, Civil Society Organizations and Private companies to improve the governance of the Extractive sector in Liberia.

It is a global standard for the good governance of oil, gas and mineral resources. It seeks to address the key governance issues in the extractive sectors. Over the course of the past year however, LEITI became one of the first casualties of the Weah-led government when the President took a controversial decision to dismiss the stakeholders-backed head of secretariat, Konah Karmo and replace him with Gabriel Nyenkan.

The decision sparked a barrage of criticisms locally but has also received its initial international condemnation with global anti-graft institution, Global Witness (GW) calling for an immediate withdrawal of the nominee. To make matters worse, Nyekann stormed the offices of the LEITI secretariat with armed Police officers and demanded that its head Konah Karmo leave the building. Karmo is reported to have complied with Nyekan’s orders given at virtual gunpoint. Mr. Nyekan’s action was greeted with almost instant rebuke by civil society groups who condemned the action. This was followed by condemnation by other watchdog groups including Global Witness (GW) who, in a release issued on Monday, condemned what it termed as the illegal removal of LEITI Head Secretariat, Mr. Karmo—in clear violation of the act that created the anti-graft entity.

2018 HIGHS: Nothing here to crow about for what many international stakeholders agree was President Weah’s biggest mistake of the year. Even Mr. Nyenkan, after going back-and-forth with the media and critics over his lapses, finally acknowledge what international stakeholders and critics had been saying all along when he admitted to wrongful take-over as head of LEITI. The decision, according to Nyenkan, is depriving the entity of much needed donor support and putting Liberia at risks for sanction if the country fails to submit its annual report. Nyenkan says the secretariat needs US$96,000 to publish the report which according to him, is being prepared by the British firm-Moore Stephens.

2018 LOWS: Liberia was dealt a major blow when the LEITI Board, on September 4, 2018, suspended the country for not publishing the its report for the fiscal period ending June 2016 within the July 1, 2018 deadline. The decision followed a request by the Government of Liberia to extend the reporting deadline, set by the EITI Standard. The Board found that the request did not meet the criteria for granting an extension. The suspension was first of its kind since Liberia joined the EITI process.

GRADE: F

2019 OUTLOOK: Will Mr. Nyenkan ever receive the money he craves to publish its fiscal report ending June 2016?

GOVERNANCE COMMISSION

THE LOWDOWN: When crafters of the Accra Peace Conference agreed in 2003 a Governance Reform Commission needed to be established in order to formulate policy recommendations and implementation strategies to ensure that post-war Liberia government functions in ways that are accountable, transparent, participatory and responsive to the interest of the Liberian people in the provision of public goods and services.

Over the past decade, governance has been a major problem with multiple reports of corruption, nepotism and greed amplifying the complications of a nation yet to restore economic and political sanity amid a recurring theme of impunity.

Part of the reason is that most government ministries and agencies have failed to follow the guidelines for which the commission was established: To address the issue of governance which was seen as a real development challenge and poor governance had occasioned poverty, conflicts, corruption, and underdevelopment which led to instability….a circle of violence. Good governance prevents government breakdown which, if not avoided results in violent conflicts.

From the onset of the government it was clear that transparency and accountability would be an issue. It all started when Charles Gibson, President Weah’s nominee for Justice Minister told a Senate confirmation hearing that the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission(LACC), the Law Reform Commission (LRC) and the Governance Commission (GC), needed to be dissolved or reorganized.

This was bolstered by a survey conducted by one of Liberia’s leading pro-democracy institutions, the National Youth Movement for Transparent Elections (NAYMOTE) which revealed that many Liberians are of the view that the country is not being governed the right way. According to the NAYMOTE’s Fifth Survey Report on the Quality of Governance in Liberia “out of the 3,185 registered voters interviewed, 77 percent of those interviewed believe that the country is going in the wrong direction; while 21 percent said that the country is being led the right way and the remaining two percent stated that they did not know.

2018 HIGHS: President Weah’s first year was a bad one for governance issues. It took nearly a whole year for the president to name a Chairman to the GC.

2018 LOWS: A poor appointment at the GC during the year under review triggered a wave of confusion and chaos resulting the politicization of the commission which should be drawing up policies for good governance. During the year, several employees of the commission, accused of being non-partisans of the ruling Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC), were put at risk of losing their jobs as they face constant threats of dismissal from the commission of the public sector.

A FrontPageAfrica investigation found that Elizabeth Dorkin, Commissioner of the Public Sector Reform Department, exhibited excessive abuse of power by usurping the duties of the acting outgoing chairman of the GC, Othello Gongar, who tenure had already expired. The Public Sector Reform focuses on developing a framework of comprehensive governance reform and addresses the “challenges of the unwholesome political culture of patronage, corruption, impunity, exclusiveness, and a highly centralized governance structure”.

Since taking over at the Governance Commission, Dorkin resorted to threatening staff with dismissals, going as far as boasting about her connections with the Minister of State and Presidential Affairs Mr. Nathaniel McGill, who is reportedly influential as it relates the appointment of public officials.

2019 OUTLOOK: Will the new team appointed by the President toward the end of the year under review finally get to make the commission relevant again?

GENERAL AUDITING COMMISSION

THE LOWDOWN: One of the integrity institutions in Liberia has undertaken hundreds of audits in the past decade but only a handful have made it to the prosecutorial stage. The GAC is required by law to perform audits of all Government agencies and Government organizations and examine, to the extent he deems necessary, all transactions and accounts relating to the receipt, disbursement, and utilization of public monies. The agency is also tasked with performing audits of all property accounts and transaction of all Government agencies and Government organization; such audits shall be conducted as far as practicable at the place or places where the property and records are located and shall include an evaluation of the effectiveness of internal control and other methods of safeguarding the assets of the Government; Perform audits of withdrawals of money within the responsibility of the Government as started in the appropriation acts or financial obligations by the order of Ministry of Finance; Inspect the books of account of banks and financial institutions to verify the amounts of Government monies, securities, and other assets hypothetical or on deposit, or otherwise require written bank confirmations of Government monies, securities, and other assets under control of such banks or financial institutions. Sadly, governments past and present have failed to use the findings of these integrity institutions to their advantage.

2018 HIGHS: During the course of the year under review, the Commission conducted its first GAC Forum in June 2018 where representatives from nearly all Government Ministries Agencies and Commissions participated. One of the objectives of the forum was to acquaint new Government officials about the GAC audit process and to stress the importance of accountability and transparency in the governance process. In addition, the GAC conducted stakeholder engagement forums for line ministries , agencies ,commissions, media, civil society and integrity institutions to further reinforce the relationship between the GAC and the various stakeholders.

The GAC is undertaking a multi-year capacity building program funded by the European Union. Under this program, the GAC has enrolled its auditors and other professional staff in various professional certification programs including the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) Certified Information Systems Auditors (CISA) etc. The goal is at the conclusion of the program to have an appreciable number of GAC staff professionally certified.

The GAC has completed more than forty audit reports this year and submitted the reports to the National Legislature.

Among the audits completed was the Coastal and Marine Management audit, a collaborative project with counterparts in the African Organization for Supreme Audit Institutions English speaking countries (AFROSAI)-E. The audit focused on the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGS) 13, 14, and 15. The GAC participated along with Tanzania, Mauritius, Namibia, Sudan and Seychelles . The GAC was the first to complete and issue its audit report. The German International Development Agency (GIZ) in collaboration with AFROSAI_E developed a documentary based on the findings of the audit. The documentary is being shown in and out of Liberia.

2018 LOWS: The year under review was a rough year for the General Auditing Commission (GAC). The change of Government slowed the activities of the commission considerably. The dismissal of all presidential appointees immediately after the inauguration of President Weah and the appointments of Human Resource Officers/Managers as Officers in Charge of Ministries and Agencies, and the moratorium on expenditure above US$3,000 were major factors that slowed the activities of the Commission. Most Human Resource officers do not understand how Ministries and Agencies operate, so it was challenging to manage ongoing audits. The US$3,000.00 moratorium limited the ability of the commission to timely meet its expenditure for goods and services above the threshold.

Also, the salary cut effected by new Government of Liberia seriously affected the commission. The Auditor General salary was cut by 53 percent and the deputies and staff salaries were cut from 1 percent to 38 percent.

While the GAC is operationally independent; financially, it is not independent in line with the LIMA and Mexico Declarations of Supreme Audit Institutions and the GAC Act of 2014. According to this Act, the GAC should submit its budget directly to the National Legislature for review and approval with a copy to the Minister of Finance and Development Planning for information.

However, since the passage of the GAC Act of 2014, the GAC budget has been determined by the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning.

Line ministries, agencies and commissions are not implementing audit report recommendations in a satisfactory manner. There are reoccurrences of system and controls weaknesses identified in the audit of ministries, agencies and commissions every audit cycle.

In addition, individuals and entities held accountable by the GAC and the Public Accounts Committee of the National Legislature in reports submitted to the President for implementation are not being held accountable.

GRADE: B

2019 OUTLOOK: Will the Weah-led government finally come around to giving integrity institutions the needed support to help elevate his pro-poor agenda and convince international stakeholders that his administration is keen to curb graft?

PUBLIC PROCUREMENT CONCESSIONS COMMISSION

James Dorbor Jallah

THE LOWDOWN: Like the General Auditing Commission, the PPCC is one of those integrity institutions key to government’s success if used the right way. The agency’s work involves preparing interim public procurement policy & procedures and interim guidelines for awarding concessions while preparing a comprehensive public procurement and concessions law. This is essential for scrutinizing policy, procedures and practices for awarding contracts under public procurement and concessions and to ensure that they are done with economy, efficiency and transparency.

During the course of the year under review however, Mr. Dorbor Jallah, Executive Director of the PPCC did not mince words about the importance of scrutinizing public procurement and concessions, urging Chartered Institute of Procurement and Supply trainees to ensure that they work in the interest of the government and people of Liberia and not the president or the heads of their respective institutions or organizations. “You guys have made it, you’ve worked very hard and have made Liberia proud. What you’ve done, however, is just one step in the professionalization process. I want to charge you in your different roles and obligations as you go now to utilize your newly acquired skills, please ensure that the best interest you are protecting is not the president’s interest, the best interest you are protecting is not the head of your agencies, the best interest you’re protecting is the national interest, it’s Liberia’s interest…”

The statement was a reflection Jallah and some integrity fighters have been grappling with since the new government took office in January. This was once more evident in June when Jallah vowed to prosecute any official of government who violates PPCC laws. He told FPA in an interview that the commission would leave no stone unturned in its function and will turn individuals over to the Ministry of Justice and the Liberia Anti Corruption Commission (LACC) for prosecution. “We observed that some agencies and ministries continuously violate the law and with that, we will do what the law says, the law says such people should be turned over to the Ministry of Justice and the LACC for prosecution, and that’s exactly what we will do,” he said.

2018 HIGHS: The year under review saw the commission engaged in strengthening the skills of private sector businesses to prepare and submit responsive bids when participating in public procurement tendering process. In June, the PPCC, utilizing funding through intervention of United Nations Development Program(UNDP), undertook a procurement compliance workshop aimed at orientating newly appointed officials of government to the compliance requirements of the Public Procurement and Concessions Act, as well as strengthen their procurement capacity to achieve greater efficiency, effectiveness, transparency and accountability in public procurement.

During the course of the year under review, Executive Director Jallah pledged his unflinching commitment in working with county authorities to narrow the procurement capacity gaps at county level, so as to enhance effectiveness and efficiency in the conduct of public procurement.

2018 LOWS: Much of the disappointment of the past year under review came from the government’s lack of support for integrity institutions like the PPCC and the GAC. Lack of funding and strong political will toward empowering the commission suggest the Wean-led government could be grappling with a rude awakening if it fails to change its approach to giving the needed support to integrity bodies.

GRADE: A

2019 OUTLOOK: Will one of the few remaining integrity bodies head be retain by the Weah-led government?

CENTRAL BANK OF LIBERIA

CBL Executive Governor Nathaniel Patray

THE LOWDOWN: When Nathaniel Patray took over the CBL in August he declared a new dispensation pledging to maintain the status quo while pledging undying support of the President’s pro-poor agenda and a willingness to forego existing bank policies just to fulfill the president’s wishes. This gave rise to speculations that Mr. Patray was on the verge of politicizing the institution tasked with the responsibility of achieving and maintain price stability in the Liberian economy.

Over the course of the year under review however, the bank struggled to fulfill its mandate of preserving the purchasing power of the national currency; promoting internal and external equilibrium in the national economy and encouraging the mobilization of domestic and foreign savings and their efficient allocation for productive economic activities. Failure to maintain price stability and ensuring a sound banking and financial system made it difficult for the bank to contribute to sustainable economic development of the nation.

2018 HIGHS: A rugged year for the bank eclipsed the little it tried to do, leaving very little room to highlight an achievement in a year filled with multiple allegations and a scandal unlikely to go away any time soon.

2018 LOWS: The saga of the missing container filled with LD16 billion dominated the year under review for the CBL. The bank was caught in the crossfire of trading blame game amongst officials of government regarding the whereabouts of the money. Former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf took issues with the current government suggesting or trying to lay blame on her government for the missing money. “It is most unfortunate that the GOL would give false information that wickedly impugns the reputation of past officials and by extension the country itself,” Sirleaf said in a phone call.

The notes, which are the equivalent of 5% of Liberia’s gross domestic product, were ordered by Sirleaf’s administration in 2016. Lenn Eugene Nagbe, the government’s spokesman and Cllr. Frank Musah Dean, attorney general, told reporters the containers had arrived in November, while the Sirleaf administration was still in office. But leaked shipping documents from the port show the containers were cleared in February and March of this year, after the new administration had taken over. The government has since launched an investigation and requested help from the United States embassy in Monrovia to bring in experts to help with the probe.

During the year under review, the bank was also hit by a decision by the US Federal Reserve System to put a freeze on transaction with the Central Bank of Liberia owing to the high-level of uncertainty surrounding the ongoing investigation into the missing billions controversy.

The main issue centered around the fact that several senior Central Bank of Liberia officials are currently under investigation in connection with the missing billions currency and have been barred from leaving the country. Key among those ordered not to travel are Mr. Milton A. Weeks, Former Executive Governor Office of the Executive Governor, who previously oversaw the overall Management of the Bank and Mr. Charles E. Sirleaf Deputy Governor, responsible for Finance, Banking and General Services Departments.

Sirleaf is the lead signature on the CBL’s account with the Feds thus, the Feds are said to be uncomfortable dealing with Liberia without a legitimate signatory.

FrontPageAfrica has learned that several of Liberia’s stakeholders including the International Monetary Fund(IMF) have been raising red flags and concerns that those under investigation should not be involved in the day-to-day operations of the CBL, particularly regarding the US Federal Reserves.

GRADE: F

2019 OUTLOOK: What will the findings of the missing billions say? Will the CBL be in the clear?

LIBERIA ANTI-CORRUPTION COMMISSION

Cllr. James Verdier

THE LOWDOWN: The independent organization established since 2008 to investigate, prosecute and prevent acts of corruption of public officials endured a rugged year under review. It’s embattled chair Cllr. James Verdier who for years has had an obsession with leaks within his ranks has been complaining about the lack of funds for the entity to carry out its work.

The year under review was summed up by a public spat between the Executive Chairperson, Cllr. James Verdier and his principal deputy J. Augustine Toe.

The spat emanated from an email exchange between the top brass of the integrity body. “What’s even more disturbing is the fact that the publication is anchored on an internal email exchange between the Vice Chairperson and Executive Chairperson,” Cllr. Verdie told a news conference to address the matter in February. “We confirm that such an exchange took place,” Cllr. Verdier told reporters in the presence of members of the body of commissioners, except for Cllr. Toe, who was absent.

Cllr. Toe’s had accused the Cllr. Verdier of financial improprieties believed to be carried out by the executive chairperson and the comptroller. Cllr. Toe disclosed in his email to Verdier: “Contrary to the report of the comptroller, a former employee of this Commission called me few days after and informed me that the Ministry of Finance has given the LACC funds a week or two before the BOC meeting. According to Cllr. Toe, on Jan. 4, 2018, he substantiated the documents he obtained from his informant at the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning and was also able to find out the portion of the operational funds already withdrawn with the consent of members of the BOC.

2018 HIGHS: Even at its low point, the LACC was forced to take hits when Justice minister-designate Charles Gibson called for the dissolution of the integrity body. Verdier came out swinging, declaring his surprise that the controversial nominee would make a faulty analysis about the anti-graft entity. “Particularly, when such faulty analysis and misinformation emanate from a person who the laws of this Republic rely on, in part, to ensure the mandates and functions of the LACC are carried out and achieved without hindrance and interference,” he said.

2018 LOWS: A Verdier-inspired Memorandum of Understanding with the General Auditing Commission contributed to President Weah’s assets being hidden from the public. As part of the MOU, the GAC designated the LACC as its authorized agent to receive Asset Declaration documents on its behalf as mandated by the 2014 Act of the Legislature Prescribing a National Code of Conduct. The MOU provides that the GAC shall, upon receipt of asset declaration documents for the Executive Branch of government, immediately forward those declarations to the LACC for inclusion in its data base in furtherance of the spirit and intent of the MoU. In order to ease filing, the GAC shall establish electronic points for filing with copies forwarded to the GAC. The two institutions have accordingly pledged to maintain the highest level of confidentiality in the handling of asset declaration documents in keeping with the MoU, a press release said on Thursday. Ironically, the LACC’s own guidelines states: “Nominees should accept to comply with the LACC income, assets and Liabilities declaration regime as a condition precedent for appointment, and bi-annually(once every two years) thereafter. Sadly, crafters of the Code of Conduct in the previous administration have made it even more difficult to shield declared assets from the public’s glare.

GRADE: F

2019 OUTLOOK: With the Executive Chair and his commissioners all tenured up, would President Weah renew and give them a new lease on life, settle for a new crew – or dissolve the body as some of his inner circle have suggested.

FINANCIAL INTELLIGENCE UNIT

Alex Cuffy

THE LOWDOWN: Established as an autonomous agency of the GOL by the Act of the National Legislature in 2012, the operates as the central, national agency of Liberia responsible for receiving, requesting, conducting preliminary investigations, analyzing and disseminating information to competent authority concerning suspected proceeds of crime and terrorist property. The FIU vision to build a well-equipped Unit dedicated to an effective Anti-Money Laundering and Combating Financing of Terrorism [AML/CFT] regime in Liberia. The FIU seeks to protect Liberia financial system from abuse of financial and economic crime for the enhancement of national, regional and global peace and economic stability.

During the course of the year under review, the agency’s head, Mr. Alex Cuffy challenged the Legislature to support anti-money laundering and countering the financing of terrorism (AML/CFT) initiatives in Liberia. Mr. Cuffy called on the Legislature to enact AML/CFT laws and provide resources for sectoral stakeholders through budgetary appropriations and legislative representation or advocacy.

2018 HIGHS: During the course of the year under review, the FIU completed Phase I of its national risk assessment (NRA) against money laundering and terrorist financing. Supported by the African Development Bank (AfDB) with technical and financial support from the Inter-Governmental Action Group against Money Laundering on West Africa (GIABA) and World Bank, the NRA exercise sets the basis for addressing problems relating to money laundering and terrorist financing. I am on the threat assessment committee.

The year also saw the FIU make some gains in improving problems associated with correspondent banking relationship. This now allows not only multinationals, like Ecobank and United Bank of Africa, are able to transfer money.

2018 LOWS: The FIU, which was part of the technical team set up by President Weah to investigate the missing billions saga, came under fire in October when its head, Mr. Cuffy declared that technical team did not need external help to carry out the probe and would proceed with the investigation with or without the intervention of the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) team.

While stating that the team would take into consideration authorization, printing and ordering of the banknotes in the country, many held the view that key players in the saga were too close to members of the team to be left on their own to carry out an investigation of such magnitude.

While the FIU has been successful in mobilizing other concerned state institutions into a partnership intended to promote the sharing of intelligence and assist in identifying activities that undermine the country’s economy, the FIU and other integrity institutions came up short in the ongoing investigation of the missing billions saga. The FIU head Cuffy acknowledged during the year that the fight against graft could not be carried out by the FIU alone and needed the collaborative effort of the relevant institutions, including the media, but fell short of embracing the media or keeping the media abreast of the proceedings of the probe.

GRADE: B-

2019 OUTLOOK: Like the GAC, LACC, PPCC and other integrity institutions, the coming year would see how much emphasis the Weah-led government will place on empowering these key bodies with the tools to enhance the government’s fight against graft – beyond lip service.

LIBERIA ELECTRICITY CORPORATION

THE LOWDOWN: The entity which has the responsibility of ensuring that efficient, reliable and affordable electric power is available, not only to meet the increasing demand for electric energy in Liberia, but also to serve as a catalyst for socio- economic development, endured a rugged year under review. Aggrieved residents of Caldwell and other areas around Monrovia took turns setting up roadblocks and burning tires in protest over the failure of the LEC to supply the township electricity.

2018 HIGHS: During the course of the year under review, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the LEC signed a Memorandum of Cooperation (MoC) to provide electricity to residents of Suakoko District, Bong County. Under the agreement the two will jointly support the development and management of a 77 kilometer electricity transmission line from the Nimba County grid in Ganta, Nimba County, to Gbarnga, Bong County. The 33kv line is expected to provide electricity to 2,200 households and 150 businesses and institutions in the Suakoko area, including Cuttington University, the Central Agricultural Research Institute, and Phebe Hospital.

2018 LOWS: During the course of the year under review, LEC was rocked by persistent power theft which it said is being orchestrated by unscrupulous individuals including some of its own workers that is currently causing the entity to lose up to 60 percent of its income. Authorities embarked on a campaign to engage with its customers to improve services and curtail power theft.

The year also saw ESB International, the private firm hired to manage the Liberia Electricity Corporation (LEC), accusing the LEC Deputy Managing Director Joseph Howe, of undermining initiatives aimed at bringing major breakthroughs at the entity. The company therefore laid before the Board of Directors of the Liberia Electricity Corporation (LEC) two hard options for its smooth operation – either it terminates the management service contract or transfer Mr. Howe.

When contacted, Mr. Howe told FrontPageAfrica that the letter was addressed to Chairman of the Board of Directors, Mr. Archibald Bernard and he would rather remain silent until it is addressed by Mr. Bernard. ESBI International is a private firm hired by the Government of Liberia under the Millennium Challenge Compact Agreement to manage the LEC. The management service contract was part of the agreement that brought the Mount Coffee Hydro back online.

GRADE: C

2019 OUTLOOK: Consumers are growing weary, evidence by the rising number of protests and tire burnings over power outages in areas around the country.

GENERAL SERVICES AGENCY

Madam Mary T. Broh

THE LOWDOWN: One of the few holdovers from the Sirleaf administration, Mary Broh epitomizes the essence of hard work. But early wrangling with members of the task force appointed to recover vehicles from the former administration which Broh once worked drew the agency of government responsible for providing the highest quality, value for money-asset management services in the line of fire.

2018 HIGHS: Over the past year, the GSA has been busy working to rebuild its infrastructure and its systems to handle a significant increase in GOL vehicle repair service and public building maintenance.

2018 LOWS: In February, the spokespersons of aggrieved GSA employees were ordered by armed Police officers of the Liberia National Police to vacate the compound of the GSA. The aggrieved workers said the Police gave them no “genuine reason” while they were being forced out of the premises.

Moses Doely, spokesperson for the workers, said he and four other colleagues had gone to the human resources manager office where they normally sit when officers of the Police Support Unit (PSU) ordered them out of the compound. “The Police didn’t tell us why they were asking us out, but when we were in the HR office, we saw Chon David walking towards us with the two PSU officers and pointed at us, just in that time the officers asked the five of us outside but failed to give reasons why we were being asked out of the compound,” he said.

Madam Mary Broh has alleged that the task force was compelling her to use her personal resources to support its operations. But in a press statement, the task force said it doesn’t need personal financial support from Madam Broh to execute President’s Weah’s mandate. The task force also accused the GSA director for putting up a “non compliance posture to its operations” as it strive to recover government vehicles in the possession of former public officials.

GRADE: B

2019 OUTLOOK: A public SOS call for Broh to replace Monrovia City Mayor Jefferson Koijee has been in the air for months. Would the coming here see it come to fruition?

NATIONAL INVESTMENT COMMISSION

THE LOWDOWN: The agency of government tasked with providing effective business and investor support and maximizing investor opportunities through dedicated programs in business linkages, development of Special Economic Zones and incentives had a rugged year under review amid criticisms that the new government has not been able to attract quality investors. Many economists point to the administration’s failure to create a supportive and thriving business environment as a key reason for the slide in the aftermath of the Sirleaf administration. During the year under review, the government struggled to attract Foreign Direct Investment to a country with massive infrastructure challenges is an uphill task for any government, compounded by corruption and policy issues are perceptible by investors.

2018 HIGHS: During the course of the year under review, the Liberian government was said to be keen on attracting more Foreign Direct Investments in order to achieve its Pro Poor agenda. The government’s Technical Economic Management Team (TEMT) says it was cognizant that in order to “turn the economy around requires sustained private investments in key sectors of the economy.” According to a TEMT’s report recently sent to the Liberian Senate, the government is clearing several investments for the short term, which its says will become operational in 2019. But the report adds that the private sector remains “constrained by critical road, electricity and port infrastructure”. In actuality, the government itself creates some of these issues.

2018 LOWS: A World Bank report during the year under review pointed to low-quality infrastructure, bureaucratic burdens, high level of corruption, unskilled labour force and comparatively very high supply chain costs as key reasons why investors have been shy on Liberia. The country currently ranks 172nd out of 190 countries in the 2018 Doing Business report compiled by the World Bank. This means, Liberia is amongst countries that are unattractive to foreign investors. According to the UN Conference on Trade and Development’s world investment report, FDI flows to Liberia fell sharply by 60.4 per cent from $627 to $248 million since 2015. Several sources within the management circle of foreign firms in the country say investors are edgy about the well being of their investments, while some say the safety and security of lives and properties of the investors are still a big concern.

Liberia’s GDP is put at 2.5% with projection of 3.0% growth before the end of 2018. Much of this growth will depend largely by increased production of gold and iron ore, following the uptick in the prices of gold and iron ore on the international market.

But as investors continue to express concern about the lack of specific regulations to support the private sector and help protect their rights. This would signal a bad sign to firms eyeing Liberia.

Forbes, one the world’s most famous business and economic magazines, in a report released last October placed Liberia amongst the least attractive destinations for doing business. Obviously, the country’s poor infrastructure and power influenced that rating.

GRADE: F

2019 OUTLOOK: Would the coming here see an influx of investors pouring in or would the government improve the climate for those looking to invest?

NATIONAL OIL COMPANY OF LIBERIA(NOCAL)

Saifuah Mai Gray

THE LOWDOWN: Despite showing some promise in the past decade of the previous administration, experts say, Liberia is still years away from producing oil of commercial quantity. Over the past few years, a lot of companies including US giants Exxon, Chevron and the South African firm, African Petroleum took terms at exploration with very little results.

The new management headed by Saifuah Mai Gray is hopeful that under her watch, Liberia could tap into its hydrocarbon potential for national self-sufficiency and sustainable development. But the company endured a rough spell in March when it became the subject of interrogation after the London-based watchdog group, Global Witness released its stunning report, Catch Me If You Can, that alleged that several Board members and members of the Hydrocarbon Technical Committee received bribes to the sign off on Block-13 to ExxonMobil. In response to the report, President Weah constituted the Special Presidential Taskforce to further investigate the report and make recommendations.

2018 HIGHS: During the course of the year under review, the oil company announced that it had embarked upon a vigorous seismic data promotion and marketing campaign to encourage new exploration for our customers and to play a very important role in achieving Liberia’s Pro-poor Agenda for Prosperity and Development by managing Liberia’s petroleum potential in a responsible, transparent, and ethical manner. The company’s revamped website offers access to International Oil Companies’ ( IOCs) mandates as related to their operations and their efforts to support capacity building, local content and social development of Liberians. Gray says the company’s progressive thinking and creative approach offers an enabling environment that will ensure that Liberia adheres to the highest standards in conducting business, with an excellent safety record, rigorous management and constant performance improvement.

During the year under review, President Weah declared that the oil and gas sector is one area of significant interest and relevance in reviving the economy. Thus, his administration is looking toward exploring a sector that remains largely untapped and has the potential to rekindle and brighten the path to prosperity. It is in this line that the President mandated relevant institutions to work out necessary modalities for a successful reopening of the Liberia basin as well as the opening of the Harper Basin for oil & gas exploration.

The President also announced that NOCAL would be hosting bid rounds for selected blocks in the Liberia and Harper basin in 2019 and urged interested companies to take advantage of the ground-breaking opportunities to invest in the sector. The President also directed and advised the relevant institutions to develop appropriate frameworks to enhance and facilitate the successful hosting of the 2019 Bid Rounds.

2018 LOWS: During the course of the year under review, President Weah surprised many local and international stakeholders when he turned a blind eye to a cardinal recommendation of the Special Presidential Committee he set up to probe NOCAL’s suspicious negotiations in selling oil Block-13.

The committee had Amongst other recommendations, the committee suggested a detailed forensic audit of the entity to be commissioned before a new leadership is appointed, but President Weah latest appointments contradict possible means of correcting the wrongs at the once flourishing state-owned oil company.

The new leadership appointed at the company comprises Saifuah Mai Gray, President/CEO; Dr. Lester Tenny, Vice President for Technical Services and Carmena C. Yeke as General Counsel. Cllr. Charles Gibson has been named as chairman of the Board. Other members include Christine Hoff Williams, Dr. Moses C. T. Jarbo, Minister of Finance & Development Planning, Minister of Mines & Energy, Minister of Justice and the Managing Director of the Liberia Petroleum Refinery Corporation.

The Special Presidential Taskforce recommendation for a forensic audit emanates from gross mismanagement that ruined the once-booming entity and series of corruption allegations that engulfed the entity.

GRADE: C

2019 OUTLOOK: After coming up empty in the past decade, which major oil and gas company would be willing to take a stab at Liberia as NOCAL prepares to host bid rounds for selected blocks in the Liberia and Harper basin.

NATIONAL TRANSIT AUTHORITY

THE LOWDOWN: When the framers who came up with the idea of establishing the NTA put pen to paper, the hope was that it would grow into a viable and sustainable public transportation outlet for the people of Liberia. The framers also expected that the NTA would endeavor overtime to establish subsidiaries in other parts of the country as and when appropriate and shall encourage private participation of small, medium and large transport companies to promote an efficient and effective mass transit system in Liberia.

The fact of the matter is, for quite some time now, there just has not been a well-thought of strategy to alleviate transportation needs, particularly beyond Monrovia.

Today, many Liberians, entrenched in poverty and neglect are finding it difficult to get from point A to point B. Over the years, generous donations by the Government of India of Ashok Leyland Falcon buses, and additional donations from other countries have helped to some extent but poor driving and high accident rate, lack of equipment and repairs have put many Liberians at the mercy of hope.

The previous administration’s decision to change the Monrovia Transit Authority to the National Transit Authority was based on the belief that decentralizing the provision of affordable, convenient and reliable mass transit services to citizens throughout the length and breadth of our country was within reach.

2018 HIGHS: Lack of functional buses, employees disenchantment and a host of internal issues made it a tough year for McCauley and company with limited positives.

2018 LOWS: During the year under review, FrontPageAfrica obtained a copy of an internal audit report from the NTA which indicated that the Managing Director, Herbie McCauley, was allegedly involved in financial improprieties. The audit was conducted on the procurement of spare parts for the Hyundai and Ashok Layland buses that the Government of Liberia provided US$200,000 to repair.

The audit revealed that without seeking the consent of the Public Procurement Concession Commission (PPCC), the management of NTA sole source spare parts from Ghana and Dubai. Accordingly, the NTA paid US$40,000 to Hyundai and Ashok Leyland GH for spare part; however, the amount was not routed through the NTA’s internal audit department for pre-disbursement compliance review.

“Technology has made it easy that the spare parts could have been ordered online without incurring approximately US$10,000 as travel expenses for the Managing Director who traveled to Ghana and Dubai to purchase the spare parts,” the audit report revealed.

The document reveals that the Managing Director, Mr. Herbie McCauley, did not obtain permission from the office of the President authorizing his travel as required by the travel ordinance.

The year also took a turn when McCauley, at the time of taking over declared that his administration inherited an agency with only 17 functional buses, down from 55.

GRADE: F

2019 OUTLOOK: An SOS Call to India? More Buses are needed to help bring relief to Liberians struggling to ease the transportation woes.

NATIONAL HOUSING AUTHORITY

THE LOWDOWN: The average Liberian would find it difficult to come up with a monthly mortgage payment, much less a down payment for a home. This is why the NHA was set up to help formulate a housing finance sector to cater to those struggling to find a place to lay their head.

In recent years, a number of discussions have been on the table regarding a construction project to relocate households from a seaside slum, suffering from severe erosion. The NHA, along with partners, commenced clearing 12.5 acres of land for the construction of 108 housing units for residents of West Points that were recently affected by the erosion.

Today, the lowest recorded interest rate on a mortgage in Liberia is eight percent, and requires at least a 20 percent down payment.

2018 HIGHS: During the course of the year under review, the NHA made a lot of pronouncements, including a housing demand survey exercise throughout the country.

The exercise, according to management was necessary to have available data at its fingertips. The creation of a database will be accessed at all time in allowing investment partners to understand the market demand before investments are made available.

The NHA also entered into a four-year Memorandum of Understanding with Habitat for Humanity International, a United States of the America-based organization, to facilitate increased access to affordable housing for low-income households through inclusive market approach. The signing ceremony, held at NHA headquarters in Monrovia was attended by Cities Alliance, Ministry of Internal Affairs, local partners as well as senior staff of NHA among others.

Under this MoU, NHA committed to hosting the international partner and provide required support for smooth implementation of its programs through the Slum Upgrading Unit of the NHA.

Another big news for the NHA during the year was the announcement that it had initiated a discussion with a private company based in Burkina Faso to construct 50-thousand affordable housing for low-income earners in the country. NHA Deputy Managing Director for Administration Tugbeh A. Tugbeh said the agreement when reached will address the current housing gap facing the people of Liberia.

2018 LOWS: The NHA was hit with a bummer during the year under review when its managing director, Duannah Siryon and three other senior members of the management team – Ambassador Augustine Weah, Isaac Roberts, Tugbeh C. Tugbeh and Patrick Deline, were arrested by the Liberia National Police, the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission and the National Security Agency, following a FrontPage Africa publication of a leaked tape in which he was heard soliciting bribes from a Burkinabe construction firm.

In the recording, the representative of GELPAZ in Liberia, Augustus Weah who is also the vice president of the company, alleged that NHA Managing Director Mr. Duanah Siryon had requested kickback in the tone of US$160,000 for NHA, US$100,000 for Justice Minister, US$100,000 for Nathaniel McGill and US$100,000for Finance Minister before the contract can be consummated.

According to Weah, he negotiated with Siryon that they (GELPAZ) did not have that amount of money on hand but had made some transfer via LBDI Bank and could produce US$80,000 to be split between Minister McGill, his team and the NHA.

“After that the US$80,000 was presented to Duanah Siryon, and he told me ‘I’ll give you US$20,000 to keep and I’ll take the US$60,000 to McGill to disburse.’,” Weah is heard saying the leaked audio.

Weah further alleged that the NHA Managing Director requested and was offered a percentage in the construction, but pleaded that such would be kept secret from his principal deputies.

Weah was explaining to some employees of NHA after he received information that Siryon had accused him of receiving US$400,000 for President Weah (his cousin) and other members of the Executive branch for the consummation of the MOU in order for GELPAZ to start construction works. Weah had said he was confronted about the money by the President via a WhatsApp message when he was in Paris, France in September.

GRADE: F

2019 OUTLOOK: All eyes on the conclusion of the investigation in the allegations of bribery to see how far the trail leads.

LIBERIA MARITIME AUTHORITY

THE LOWDOWN: Liberia has long served as a “flag of convenience” for ship owners looking for a lightly regulated port to call home. During the course of the year under review the country became the fastest growing major open registry in both the shipping and offshore sectors, according to leading shipping services provider Clarksons in its Clarksons World Fleet Monitor. Liberia’s maritime registry is an important source of hard currency for a country whose exports have dwindled after years of civil war. The LMA has limited law enforcement powers connected to the maritime and marine programs and activities to ensure strict adherence to any regulations and rules promulgated under the Act or pursuant thereto, including developing and implementing policies and measures, performing acts and enforcing the laws and regulations applicable to the maritime sector.

During the year under review, the LMA was engulfed in a major court battle over President Weah’s decision to end the tenure of Atty. Isaac Jackson at the International Maritime Organization (IMO). Jackson took the government to court and the appointment was temporarily stalled by the Supreme Court of Liberia. In court argument, Atty. Jackson argued that the President is acting in error and in violation of the law petitioned the Supreme Court to issue a Writ of Prohibition on the President’s latest appointment to the IMO. In a 17-count petition, lawyers representing Atty. Jackson argued that Part II, Section 7 (4) of the Liberia Maritime Authority (LMA) Act says the Commissioner and Deputy Commissioner of the Maritime Authority shall have tenures of five years in in order to ensure and preserve consistency in the leadership, maintain continuity of purpose, increase capacity in the industry and preserve the national and international relevance and very competitive nature of the maritime program.

2018 HIGHS: Liberia has become the first ship registry to be admitted to the Maritime Anti-Corruption Network (MACN) as an associate member.

Alfonso Castillero, CCO of the Liberian Registry, says, “We are greatly honoured to be the first ship registry admitted as an associate member of the MACN. The organization has done great work fighting corrupt practices in some of the most difficult regions in the industry. MACN’s model of government and local partner collaboration, and industry-led collective action, is considered global best-practice. It’s not often the shipping sector gets that sort of recognition.

“Effective flag states, such as Liberia, offer a unique perspective and opportunity in the fight for a maritime industry free of corruption. Liberia’s fleet of over 4,325 vessels trades in some of the world’s most difficult regions. Our global network of full-service offices and local inspectors means that the flag is never far away. Together with MACN, we can help provide the crew of these ships with processes and procedures as well as with firm backing and support to defeat bribery attempts. This backing serves to allay fears and prevent negative recourse by unscrupulous officials seeking enrichment at the expense of shipowners.”

Maritime during the period under review renewed a Maritime Transport Agreement between the Government of Liberia and the People’s Republic of China and at the same time in its final stages of completing a similar agreement with India.

LiMA succeeded in getting two vessels to operate cargo transport along the coast as a means of providing low cost transportation of goods to the Southeast.

Facilities at the Liberia Marine Training Institute were completely refurbished and that institute is now conducting training for 24 Liberian students in various maritime related disciplines. Currently, LiMA is sponsoring four students at the Regional Maritime University in Ghana studying for Bachelor Degrees as well as one student at the World Maritime University in Sweden pursuing a Master’s Degree.

Within the period under review Liberia became the first ship registry to be admitted to the Maritime Anti-Corruption Network (MACN) in as an Associate Member.

Liberia completed and passed the ISPS full audit that was conducted by the US Coast Guard in 2018.

2018 LOWS: During the year under review, senior officials of the LMA admitted to several financial irregularities revealed by the audit report of the General Auditing Commission (GAC) on the Authority for the Fiscal Years ended June 30, 2013 to June 30, 2015.

Appearing before the Legislature’s Joint Public Accounts Committee (PAC), Dr. James Kollie, head of the LMA said all the issues raised in the report are true but measures have been put in place to correct them so as to avoid reoccurrence. In the audit report, LMA was accused of failing to implement the International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) as adopted by the Government of Liberia and the entity maintained seven bank accounts with three banking institutions and failed to conduct monthly bank reconciliations of those accounts.

Public Financial Management (PFM) regulations stipulate that “The balance of every bank account as shown in a bank statement shall be reconciled with the corresponding cashbook balances at least once every month; and the reconciled statement shall be filed or recorded in the cash book or the reference to the date and number thereof.”

The 2013 audit report also alleged that the LMA Board passed a resolution to borrow US$16.4 million consisting of US$14.0 for special projects and US$2.4 million for revolving bridge facility to gap fund recurring operational activities.

GRADE: B-

2019 OUTLOOK: Will Atty. Jackson survive the legal war with President Weah?

LIBERIA PETROLEUM REFINERY CORPORATION

Nyemade Pearson

THE LOWDOWN: This lucrative state-owned entity with the mandate to procure and supply quality petroleum and petroleum-related products to the Liberian market has had a topsy turvy past few years. During the year under review, the LPRC has struggled to explain its way out of a number of shortages.

2018 HIGHS: During the year under review, the current management team headed by Nyemade Pearson appears to be going the distance in trying to restore aging facilities. The Crude Storage Terminal located within the perimeter of the Freeport of Monrovia which has not been operational but dormant for three decades has been fully rehabilitated, refurbished, upgraded and reconstructed to the standard of the American Petroleum Institute (API) under a Consolidated Leased Management Agreement with a local petroleum company, Conex Petroleum Group Incorporated.

During the course of the year under review, management remodeled and modernized the LPRC site clinic, remodeled and modernized the LPRC canteen, approved the construction of two additional floors/tires in the PST Operations to accommodate all LPRC staff; installed new CCTV infrastructure at strategic locations in the PST; initiated the ongoing Administrative restructuring ; Total recovery as at September 30, 2018 is as follows: Liberian dollars- 846,907,312.08 United States dollars – US3,364,512.76

Management also undertook a project to revamp the LPRC Security Force to eliminate potentials for product theft, generated a new vehicle policy to reduce management recurrent maintenance cost for vehicles, revised the Employees Handbook, Institutionalized check and balance system, boosted employee morale, systems audit ongoing, drafting of a new strategic plan in process, printing of certificate for importers, distributors and lubricants importers completed.

The new management has been able to save US$2.5m million on first three tanks commission (ago, pms, jet fuel) and has managed to reach the operational building at roof level.

2018 LOWS: A decision by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry increase the price of petroleum products sent shockwaves to many consumers. The increment has led to many commercial drivers suddenly increasing transportation fare to commensurate with the increment.

In response, a circular issued by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry indicated: “The Ministry of Commerce and Industry in consultation with the Management of the Liberia Petroleum Refining Company (LPRC) has announced that there would be twelve United States cents (0.12c) increase in the price of gasoline (PMS) and thirteen United States cents (13c) increase in the price of fuel oil (AGO).”

The Commerce Ministry further instructed that the retail price of gasoline be US$3.37/LD$440 while fuel oil should be sold for US$3.44/LD$450.

Ironically, the Liberia Petroleum Refining Company (LPRC) in a press statement issued on the same December 1, 2017 informing the public that there has been no increment in the price of petroleum products.

The entity also came under fire when legal practitioners representing two companies involved in the sale of petroleum products in the country questioned the collection of storage fees by the Liberian Government under the National Reform Act. The two groups of legal practitioners are representing Srimex Oil and Gas Company and Aminata & Sons. Lawyers questioned the collection of storage fees from their respective clients by government during a hearing into a writ of prohibition they filed to the Supreme Court on Tuesday, April 24, 2018. The writ of prohibition is filed and prayed for by the two lawyers for the high court to place a stay order on the process carried out by the government under the guise of the Liberia Petroleum Refinery Company (LPRC).

GRADE: B –

2019 OUTLOOK: Keeping a steady supply of petroleum on the market could prove pivotal in the coming year.

NATIONAL PORT AUTHORITY

Bill Twehway, NPA MD

THE LOWDOWN: The National Port Authority (NPA) was intended to be the gateway to Liberia’s economy. However, high charges and levies at the Freeport of Monrovia and other ports around the country can partially be blamed for the skyrocketing hike in common goods on the market. When the Weah-led government took the mantle of authority, hopes were high that a lot would have changed, but the NPA has continued to do business as usual.

2018 HIGHS: Under the new NPA administration, Harper Port in Maryland County for the first time in 15 years got 24/7 electricity supply. A new administrative building was also added.

The new facility at the Port of Harper now addresses the darkness, long term insecurity and makeshift view of that exited at the Port over the years prior to the George Weah-led government.

As the result of this tremendous transformation, Major users and investors including WEST LOGGING COMPANY have developed interest in using the port of Harper after fifteen years of inactive service and operations.

Prior to the completion of the new Administrative, Employees at the Port of Harper were housed in the only warehouse within in the port which will also be fully completed shortly.

The local management at the Port of Harper has negotiated with NIKO-IVANKA shipping company to increase their vessel operations at the Port while assessment is being carried out for the construction of petroleum storage that will supply the region through the Port.

The Managements of Cavalla Rubber Company and Golden Veroleum have also expressed willingness to upgrade the Port to International Standard.

The NPA Management has also been working to plug revenue leakages in millions of dollars that were not realized from marine operations. This started with the engagement of ArcelorMittal and Smit Lamnalco to remit legitimate fees to NPA coffers.

This latest move was hinged on huge finical liabilities which amounted to US$680,000 that was discovered by the Port’s new Management team.

This followed the May 25, 2018, NPA – APM Terminals deal which will now allow 15% payment in royalty on total annual revenue from Marine Services before expenditure and taxes to the National Port Authority plus the additional 50% of the remaining profit; it also adds up to the US$ 1.25 million arrears for the extra two years APM Terminals operated the Marine Services; as well as the five years training package for NPA Staff and the first ever 37.5 % payment from APM Terminals annual gross revenue through the Weigh bridge operation, among others.

During the period under review, the management of the National Port Authority advanced a process leading to the construction of the first Inland Port in Liberia. In view of this vision, the Liberia Land Authority in collaboration with the National Port Authority has concluded a survey reconnaissance to map the first 75 acres of land in Kpoahpa Town, Ganta, Nimba County. The port when built, will serve as a major trade corridor for goods and services via rail from North Eastern Liberia to the port of Buchanan and other regional ports. It will also create job opportunities, attract investment and boost government’s revenue. The estimated land space for the Inland Port is 500 acres.

In October, the management of the National Port Authority announced the introduction of a Cargo Tracking Note (CTN) and Advanced Cargo Declaration System (ACD), an Internationally recognized standard and global initiative that monitors and verifies cargo on transit to all Ports of entry in Liberia.

The CTN and ACD are high technological method that Provides real-time monitoring of security plan of vessels; Allows real time generation of advanced information on cargo, including type, origin, quantity and other shipment information; and Generates automatic information alert for the port of destination.

This system, when put into effect, will further enhance security and safety of ports and cargo ; Prevents under-declaration of gross registered tonnage (GRT) of ship; prevents under-declaration and concealment of cargo; Improves revenue accruable to government ; hastens vessel reception and cargo Clearance procedures; reduces cargo turnaround time and ultimate reduction of costs of doing business ; enhances the determination of freight cost and actual value of sea freight in the transport chain ; and provides credible data and statistics on oil sales, import and export volume among others.

2018 LOWS: The NPA started the year sailing on rough waters. The delay in appointing a Managing Director and the constitution of a Board created loophole for a lot of mishaps at the administrative level.

In March this year, a FrontPageAfrica investigative report uncovered a major payroll paddling, nepotism and corruption at the National Port Authority (NPA) but the management has issued a statement defending its decision to hire three members of President George Weah’s family as consultants.

Mrs. Celia Cuffy Brown, the Acting Managing Director at the time hired several individuals – all last named Weah as consultants to positions inside the scope of existing jobs already occupied with salaries four-times more than the heads of those areas.

The management was reportedly rocked with power struggle leading to the dismissal of the comptroller, Mr. Franklin W. Sarkoh. FPA gathered that Sarkoh was dismissed for his alleged refusal to take orders from the Managing Director, Mr. Bill Twehway, while remaining a loyalist of Mrs. Brown, the Deputy Managing Director.

Mr. Sarkoh, it can be recalled was brought on board by the former Acting Managing Director Brown when she took over the authority in March, in a series of rapid moves which drew criticisms and put the NPA under the spotlight and immense public scrutiny.

This paper at the time gathered that his dismissal was basically a non-compliance issue in the middle of an audit at the port.

GRADE: D

2019 OUTLOOK: Will Managing Director Thehway be looking toward in making the ports ‘pro-poor’ through the reduction in tariffs? This, in the view of many Liberian businesses, would open the country up for more investment, boost import and help make the economy viable again.

CIVIL SERVICES AGENCY

THE LOWDOWN: The new administration of the Civil Service Agency (CSA) took off leadership with a promise of protecting and seeking the welfare of civil servants. This promise who highly embraced by civil servants across the country. But not only would this new administration grapple with removal of ghost names from the Government of Liberia payroll, but will also have to deal with the huge number of employees infused in the system by the CDC-led government.

2018 HIGHS: The Civil Service Agency assured civil servants that it will work with all stakeholders to protect the interest and rights of all civil servants objectively by ensuring the enforcement of the Civil Service Agency’s Standing Orders and Human Resource Policy Manual.

The Director General, Madame Laurine Johnson, promised her staff she will seek the political will of President George Manneh Weah, members of the Legislature, Cabinet colleagues and other stakeholders in this regard.

“We will vigorously work with the Ministry of Finance & Development Planning, the Internal Audit Agency, General Auditing Commission and all relevant stakeholders to minimize the risk on the payroll and to increase the value for money; and if possible, eliminate the would-be ghost names and duplications in line with the President’s Pro Poor Agenda,” she said.

The Director General is bent on working with all Ministries, Agencies and Commissions (MACs) to strengthen the Personnel Action Notice (PAN) processes, enhance the recording system and maintain the database of all civil servants.

The CSA has also been providing a mandatory training for all new civil servants as a way of orientation into public service and will review the performance of old civil servants through a rigorous performance-based appraisal and will train as need be.

“We will ensure that the merit-based recruitment function of the CSA is adhered to at all time. By this, we will work with all MACs to ensure that all recruitment, examinations, classifications and placements of civil servants are in line with CSA’s Standing Order and Human Resource Policy Manual of Liberia,” she said.

2018 LOWS: Almost all the ministries and agencies of government are flooded with new recruits – most of whom are members of the ruling CDC and do not merit the offices to which they now serve. The CSA for the sake of the record spoke against such act, but did little to put the unwarranted act by the CDC in check.

GRADE F

2019 OUTLOOK: The CSA will have to be very discriminate with accepting employees being forwarded by various agencies and ministries of government on the payroll taking into consideration the huge absorption of CDCians into the workforce.

LIBERIA TELECOMMUNICATIONS CORPORATION (LIBTELCO)


LIBTELCO Managing Director Richmond Nagbe Tobii

THE LOWDOWN: The Liberia Telecommunications Corporation has a mission to provide quality and affordable communication mediums and high standard customer service to all of Liberia. Not much of this has been seen of them in this regard.

2018 HIGHS: Libtelco has envisioned internet television which they claimed would be viewed in Liberia and other parts of the world.

LIBTELCO’s Managing Director, Richmond Nagbe Tobii, has assured the public that the Corporation is working tirelessly to expand its services in Montserrado County and other parts of Liberia.

During the period under review, LIBTELCO officially launched its much-publicized internet service program, Schoolconnect on Fendall campus of the University of Liberia.

Tobii disclosed that all learning students and others who subscribe with LIBTELCO’s school connect internet service program can access the corporation’s internet service at all areas that are connected with its newest program; which is affordable, fast, reliable, and people-driven. University students pay US$5 for four months while high students pay US$3 also for four months.

2018 LOWS: Libetlco is still struggling to penetrate the market with its services. To date, not many residents of Monrovia are familiar with Libtelco services. Eight of 10 households in Monrovia have no knowledge of Litelco’s internet television.

GRADE: D

2019 OUTLOOK: With the ongoing price war between the only two GSM Companies in Liberia, would the county’s telecommunications corporation be prepared to break even? Is the schoolconnet program going to be sustained? Would the fibre optic cable connections be made more accessible?

LIBERIA TELECOMMUNICATION AUTHORITY

The Lowdown: The Liberia Telecommunications Authority (LTA) is the statutory regulatory body established to foster the provision of accessible and affordable ICT based telecommunications services for all Liberians. Created during the administration of Ellen Johnson Sirleaf in 2007 through an Act of legislation, the LTA has a task of developing the telecoms and broadcast industries. The former is regarded as a major revenue generating sector of Liberia.

2018 Highs: The appointment of Ivan Brown as commissioner in March 2018 as chair of the board received less condemnations considering the number of bloopers in presidential appointments during President Weah’s first six months in office. Brown is regarded as a well schooled telecoms expert with over 33 years of ICT experience. He is regarded as a certified technician in Cisco, Oracle, Microsoft and ITU expert.

The LTA’s Anti Fraud and legal units in October during the year under review busted and arrested operators of SIM Box units.they discovered hundreds of sim cards that SIM Box Units are illegal use to by-pass the legal channels to register international calls to Liberia. It is a means of defrauding government and service providers of hundreds and thousands of dollars annually. The LTA had often warned the two GSM providers about the threat unregistered SIM Cards pose to national security and the economy.

In August 2018, the LTA embarked on exercise to appraise radio stations in the country seeking to assess and determine the operational status of radio stations and proffer remedial regulatory measures that would compel compliance with the Telecommunications Law of 2007 where it is deemed necessary. The first phase was held in Rivercess, Sinoe, Grand Kru, Maryland, River Gee and Grand Gedeh Counties.

However, it was an unfinished business because the LTA was unclear about the expansion of the exercise to other parts of the country.

2018 LOWS: When news of MTN pulling out of Liberia penetrated the international scene, the LTA was taciturn and could not provide clarity. American news Bloomberg had reported during the year that the South African telecoms firm was considering divestment in a number of African countries including Liberia, South Sudan and Guinea Bissau.

MTN holds a giant share in one of Liberia’s two telecoms companies, and a pullout of the Liberian market was a troubling news. Although the company has not left, many industry experts had said that poor regulations by the LTA was a contributing factor to the investor’s edginess.

The last few weeks to the end of 2018 remain pretty intense for the LTA as news about scrapping the famous three days free call penetrates the country. The LTA had earlier canceled affordable international calls, arguing that it was making the government to lose revenue.

Now, the LTA has a new tariff for local calls, which would be a shock to consumers who for the past four years have been paying US$1.00 for unlimited on-net calls for three days on both LoneStar MTN and Orange GSM networks. This mean, consumers would have to pay almost US$9.36 for an hour of on-net call compared to US$1 for 72 hours of on-net call.

The LTA has proposed US$ 0.218 per megabyte. This also means, one would pay US$21.8 for 100 megabytes. Currently, both GSM networks offer 1,000 megabyte of internet data for US$1.00 depending on the number of days the subscriber intends to use it.

According to the LTA, the proposed decision is accordance with its mandate under the Liberia the Telecommunications Act 2007, particularly Part VII Article 27, which requires the LTA to “undertake market reviews from time to time to evaluate market conditions and the state of competition in those markets”.

The LTA says there’s adverse impact of the continuous promotions on the long-term stability and viability of the sector, and the impact on the quality of service offered to consumers.

According to the LTA, the long-term promotions like the three days ‘free’ calls has made the market unattractive and may discourage new companies from wanting to venture the telecommunication maroweverket in Liberia.

It also claims that the new floor tariff is to end the price war between Orange and MTN which came about following the introduction of an extremely low-price call promotion, adding that it will end the “price war” between GSM Companies.

However, many Liberians who rely on the free call promotion are angered by the new plan. For many, this will be an unpopular move by the LTA.

GRADE: B

2019 OUTLOOK: Ending the three-day free calls would be a massive decision by the LTA and it will have to show to Liberians the relevance of such move, beyond just putting up a PR stunt.

LIBERIA CIVIL AVIATION AUTHORITY

THE LOWDOWNS: In keeping with its statutory mandate as enshrined in the Liberia Civil Aviation Authority (LCAA) Act of 2005, the LCAA is clothed with the responsibility of providing safety and regulatory oversight on the aviation sector of Liberia. Inasmuch as the LCAA tried to ensure efficacy in its responsibility by getting involved with a number of activities, there are still some major ‘lowdowns,’ not necessarily created by this present Management Team, which is headed by former House Speaker J. Emmanuel Nuquay.

A previous management of the LCAA had used taypayers’ money to enter into a contract with INTECAN Techno System in 2013, for the procurement and installation of Air Navigation and Landing Equipment at the Roberts International Airport. The equipment was bought a little over US$50,000 but the deadly Ebola Virus disease of 2014, delayed its instillation. After the EBOLA outbreak, when an assessment was done on the equipment, some of the modules of its modules, due to absorption of moisture, had damaged. Repair works cost the LCAA a little over US$50,000. The repairs were done but taking into account that it had sat for a long time, when a thorough assessment was done on the whole equipment in April 2018, it was later discovered that additional modules were damaged. It will cost the Government of Liberia more than US$90,000 to replace the damaged modules.

The LCAA present Management Team, working with the Liberia Airport Authority (LAA), has made a request to the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning (MFDP) to provide the additional funding required to complete the project.

2018 HIGHS: During the year under review, LCAA, especially after the appointment and takeover of a new Director General in March 2018, set out on a mission as follows: To strengthen the positive image of Liberia in regional and international aviation organizations through active participation and continuous payment of membership dues; To address all safety deficiencies identified through the ICAO 2006 Audit and the ROST Mission Report of 2012 aimed at improving Liberia’s safety rating from 18.6% to a minimum of 60% as required by ICAO; To request ICAO Regional Office Safety Team visit to Liberia to access Liberia’s level of execution of ICAO eight critical elements and draw a road map/technical plan to assist Liberia achieve minimum safety requirement of 60%, To develop and implement a Technical Plan to ensure Liberia achieves a minimum security rating of 65% effective implementation of ICAO critical elements; To enhance the capacity of the technical and administrative workforce through the provision of training and certification in compliance with ICAO requirements; And that upon achieving the above stated objectives, ICAO to approve the opening of an Aircraft Registry by Liberia; To work with Central Government and the Liberia Airport Authority to complete the procurement and installation of new Air Navigation Equipment at the Roberts International Airport; To guarantee safety for Aircraft landing at Roberts International Airport by soliciting the services of the African Flight Procedure Program to review or design all conventional and Performance Based Navigation (PBN) Flight procedures including approach with vertical guidance and Review and amend LCAA Act and Organizational Structure.

The LCAA made strides towards meeting its financial obligations to the following regional and international bodies: BAGASOO (US$30,000.00); AFCAC (US$60,000.00).

The LCAA is working with the MFDP to finalize funding modalities to complete the Air Navigational and Landing Equipment project at the Roberts International Airport. If the funding approval sought from the Ministry of Finance is granted, LCAA anticipates the project to be completed within the first quarter of 2019. With the completion of the infrastructure development (new runway and new terminal), the finalization of this safety project will fully consummate development at the airport and ensure the security and safety of traveling passengers and aircraft, thereby enhancing the overall development of aviation in Liberia.

Nuquay’s LCAA has also sought for assistance consisting of designing New Performance Base Navigation instrument flight procedure including Approach with Verticals Guidance (APV) baro-VNAV, arrival and departure procedures including charting for publication.

The Instrument Flight Procedure (IFP) will include the arrival, the approach, landing and departure procedures.

The LCAA has received a proposal detailing the amount of US$49,915.00 as cost of the project. In line with the payment procedure, LCAA anticipates making the initial 30% payment in January 2019 to commence the project. The project will be executed over the period of six months, meaning January to June 2019.

2018 LOWS: Previous ICAO audits and assistance missions had identified serious contradiction in the LCAA organizational structure and the Civil Aviation Act of 2005.

Currently the LCAA does not have an approved Organizational structure as required by ICAO. Besides, the LCAA conflicts its regulatory role with that of the service provision function of Air Traffic Control (ATC) and Aeronautical Information Service (AIS).

In an attempt to address these issues, the LCAA constituted a technical committee to review and amend the organizational structure for approval by the Board. The LCAA with support from the RFIR secured the services of the consultant to complete this task. A draft organogram has been finalized pending approval by the board. The new structure clearly distinguishes the regulatory function of the LCAA from a service provision function. The new structure also provides for Deputy Director General for Technical and a Deputy Director for Administration. The current LCAA Act conflicts the regulatory functions of the LCAA with that of the function of an accident investigation board, which should be separated as per the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) requirement owing to the fact that a regulator should not be accident investigator at the same time.

Also, the current draft Act restricts the delegation of service provision function to the LCAA as was done in the Liberia Airport Authority Act.

GRADE: B+

2019 OUTLOOK: Given the complexity involved with the aviation industry and the standards associated thereof, LCAA remains astute in ensuring that safety and security stand as its top priority. There are promising elements of growth for the industry and the Liberia Civil Aviation Authority under Hon. Nuquay can guarantee the sustainability of uninterrupted provision of safety and orderly development in the Air Transport Sector to meet up with forthcoming demands. We wait to see what 2019 brings.

LIBERIA LAND COMMISSION

THE LOWDOWN: Land is often regarded as issue that has the propensity of igniting conflict; therefore, institutions like the Land Commission has a strategic role of averting social conflict. The Land Commission was established by an act of the National Legislature in 2009 to propose, advocate and coordinate reforms of land policy, laws and programs in the country. Since its establishment, the commission has proposed policies to initiate. One of several reforms the commission has championed is the new Land Rights Act.

2018 HIGHS: The passage of the Land Rights Act by the Legislature and its subsequent signing by president Weah was a momentous feat achieved by the commission following several years of advocating the significance of the bill. The law will now allow traditional communities to own land and clearly prevents land grab by concession companies.

The signing into law of the Act lays the groundwork for tackling major reforms on land and in local governance, several international partners including the UNDP have said. But there are concerns that moving forward by implementing the laws will require the commitment of the government and all of its partners.

Thomson Reuters described the passage as a “triumph for the courageous, determined community members, civil society activists, and lawmakers who spent years advocating for more equitable, fair land rights for the citizens of Liberia”.

Sustainable Development Institute or SDI, a non-governmental body that advocates for indigents’ right to customary land ownership described the new aw as “groundbreaking legislation which will be a “transformative milestone of the post-conflict era in promoting citizens’ participation in the decision-making process.

2018 LOWS: Although the passage of the Land Act drew both local and international recognitions, the Commission has achieved little in sensitizing rural communities about the new law and how it would impact their livelihood. It is not clear what plans the commission has to reach rural communities and sensitize inhabitants about the new land rights law.

GRADE: B

2019 OUTLOOK: Expectations are high of the Commission to ensure public awareness of the new Land Rights Act especially for rural communities where dependence on communal land is high.

LIBERIA REVENUE AUTHORITY

THE LOWDOWN: The Liberian Revenue Authority (LRA) is the main revenue generating arm of the Government of Liberia. It collects “lawful revenues.” Though, there are other smaller revenue generating outlets of the government, but all of them feed into the LRA. During the political season of 2017, the LRA became a serious part of all the political discussions on the lips of most of the politicians, who were asking Liberians to give them their votes for the nation’s highest office. The then Commissioner General of the LRA, Madam Elfreda S. Tamba, was accused of being on the side of the then ruling party — Unity Party. Oppositions said because of her yea LRA’s alleged involvement with the ruling party, the revenue authority placed exorbitant tariffs on some of the very basic things that ordinary Liberians need daily for their survival. And because of these tariffs, those Liberians felt the pinch in the closing stages of 2017. However, Liberians are still crying that “town so hard.” Those oppositions even went as far as saying that some of the extra collected from those high tariffs, when into the pockets of members of the First Family and some privileged few.

2018 HIGHS: During the year under review, the LRA made several significant progress with respect to enhancing and executing its mandate—the collection of lawful revenues. The LRA introduced several modernization and transformational initiatives to make taxpaying friendly, easier and convenient. Via this, the LRA introduced and launched several initiatives as summarized below, beginning with Revenue performance as at October 31st 2018, followed by last fiscal revenue performance which ended June 30, 2018. This SOE’s calendar year runs from July 1 to June 30 of each year.

According to LRA sources, total revenue collected in the first four months (July –October) of the fiscal year is US$161.9M; comprising 154.9M or 95.7% in domestic revenues (monies collected solely in Liberia, no donor funds), and US$7.0M or 4.3% in external resources (money received from donors). The amount collected exceeds the year-to-date (amount that should be collected by now) projection of US$144.2M by US$17.7M or 12.2%. Collection to date shows that 28% of the total resource envelope and 31% of the domestic revenues have been achieved.

On June 25, 2018, the House approved the FY 2018/19 budget at US$570.1M. The approval gave the LRA the mandate to collect all levies in order to meet, and possibly exceed, the budget target in keeping with the Revenue Code of Liberia.

The total resource envelope is comprised of US$506.2M in domestic revenues and US$51.3M in external resources, with a financing gap of US$12.6M. The budget also contains a core component of US$561.6M and a contingent component of US$8.5M. The contingency is based on the anticipated expansion of ArcelorMittal’s operations at Gandra Mines (US$6.5M) and the impact of tariff reduction for which US$2M from the Customs core budget was expunged and placed in contingent. Among other ‘highs’ for the entity in 2018 include:

Modernizing the country’s tax system remains a top-agenda priority of the LRA. Goal Four of the Authority’s 5-year Corporate Strategic Plan squarely articulates this objective: Transforming Revenue Administration by Utilizing Effective Information and Communication Technology. Via this, the LRA is bent on deploying and operationalizing modern revenue administration technology to improve compliance and effectiveness, thereby enhancing domestic resource mobilization.

To this end, LRA introduced a new system of tax payment in April, when President George M. Weah officially launched the country’s first-ever mobile tax payment platform. Through the platform, taxpayers pay their taxes using existing mobile phone services.

According to the LRA, the President also became the first Liberian to pay his taxes (Real Estate) through the system. The mobile tax payment platform is operated by Orange Liberia and

Lonestarcell/MTN GSM networks, while the United Bank for Africa is managing the payment deposits. The user friendly service is accessible 24/7.

On July 27, 2018, the LRA officially launched the E-filing platform in Liberia for the filing of returns electronically to the Liberia Revenue Authority. This has never happened in Liberia’s history.

The formal launch of the e-filing (preceded by two previous soft launches) adds to other modern tax payment initiatives including direct bank transfer, mobile tax payment, and centralized customs assessment, among others, the LRA is embarked upon. These initiatives are in line with Goal Four of the LRA 5-year Corporate Strategic Plan.

The overall purpose of the e-filing application is to provide convenience to all taxpayers to file and pay their taxes expediently online from anywhere in the world—as long as one has access to internet.

As part of efforts to ease customs transactions and enhance transparent payment processing, the LRA on Friday, March 16, 2018 lunched the Centralized Customs Declaration Processing System.

First of its kind in Liberia’s revenue administration, the new system is assessable to the public to declare and process goods declarations in a paperless environment and reduce clearing periods.

The aim of the LRA is to enable importers clear goods from customs ports with in at least five hours to a maximum there days. The structure enables the Automated System for Customs Data (ASYCUDA) to be available online, while payment notices to declarants and releases to terminal operators will be automated.

The Liberia Revenue Authority (LRA) in July recognized and awarded 39 devoted taxpayers for their firm commitment tax payment and meaningfully contributing to the revenue envelope of the country. The awardees were selected based on their respective tax contributions and performance during the 2016/2017 fiscal year. Each awarded was given a plaque certificate and a one-year tax clearance certificate.

GSM operator Orange Liberia received the Gold Award as the Highest Tax Contributor nationwide, followed by Monrovia Club Breweries which got the Silver Award as the second highest.

Among others, ACTIVA International Insurance Company Limited was awarded as the Most Complaint Taxpayer Nationwide; Firestone Liberia got the Most Compliant Taxpayer in the Natural Resource Sector, while ArcelorMittal clinched the highest tax contributor in the Natural Resource Sector.

The LRA has established itself as a professional institution over the years, engaging in best international practices in its dealings. It has documented policies and standard operating procedures for every business and administrative processes.

In this direction, during the year, the West Africa Tax Administrative Forum (WATAF) has expressed gratitude to the LRA for the provision of a technical assistance to the sub-regional body.

The LRA made another huge mark with President George Weah signing its Domestic Resource Mobilization (DRM) Strategy, following series of stakeholders and national validation.

The DRM is the outcome of four regional dialogues, which culminated into a National Revenue Symposium held in June 2017 on domestic resource mobilization, during which a document inclusive of plans and ideas on how to initiate a domestic resource mobilization strategy for Liberia was formulated.

It is a continuation of ongoing efforts by the LRA in support of a global crusade highlighting DRM as pivotal for African countries to finance the Post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the Africa Action Agenda 2063.

The DRM will be legislated as a map for Liberia to raise revenue and funs national development.

2018 LOWS: In September 2018, after the Tax Court established that the Liberia Revenue Authority (LRA) inflated the tax obligation of one of its clients, it ruled that the LRA must refund the excess charge of US$187,019.47 plus additional interest of US$170,871.85, totaling US$357,691.32.

Judge Mozart Chesson, who confirmed the initial guilty verdict of the Board of Tax Appeals (BOTA) against the LRA subsequently declared that “Bridgeway Corporation is entitled to the refund that includes interest in the amount of US$US$357,691.32.”

Before the court ruling, Bridgeway had complained to the BOTA that the LRA contravened the Revenue Code by applying the tax rate that was amended by the Legislature and the LRA computed Goods and Service tax at 10% and Excise Tax rate at 80%, instead of the 7% and 35% respectively on the consignment of cigarettes the corporation imported in 2016.

Also, in mid-November 2018, Mr. Thomas Doe-Nah, Commissioner General of LRA, told the Liberian Senate’s plenary that the country is losing more than US$200 million in revenue collection as a result of waiver and exemption laws.

He argued that the government is waiving almost everything and warned that it is not safe to continue that way. He was responding to a question about budgetary shortfalls from Senator Oscar Cooper of Margibi County.

GRADE: A-

2019 OUTLOOK: LRA’s prospects for 2019 look to be on the right trajectory. Let’s hope that the budgetary shortfalls concerns raised by Senator Cooper won’t be anything to worry about in 2019.

FOREST DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY

FDA MD C. Mike Doryen

THE LOWDOWNS: The Act establishing the Forestry Development Authority (FDA) is intended for the Authority to among other things establish a permanent forest estate made up of reserved areas upon which scientific forestry will be practiced; devote all publicly-owned forest lands to their most productive use for the permanent good of the whole people considering both direct and indirect values; stop needless waste and destruction of the forest and associated natural resources and bring about the profitable harvesting of all forest products while assuring that supplies of these products are perpetuated.

Inasmuch as the Authority tried to uphold the statute creating it, however, the Authority didn’t live up to all for which it was enacted into law by the Legislature. Unlike pre-war years when FDA fully enjoyed the fruit of unhindered autonomy, the entity operates under a semi-autonomy status thereby not being in the able position to implement its dream. The present Management Team is trying to regain this worthwhile status. Also included in its ‘lows,’ the Authority, instead of doing the launch of its new national forest parks in those localities, it instead did the launch at the Monrovia City Hall in Monrovia.

2018 HIGHS: It’s nearly one year since President George Weah appointed the current FDA management team led by Mr. C. Mike Doryen to set a new page and give the institution the suitable vestment it deserves as far as sustainable management of the Liberian forest is concerned. The present Management Team has made substantial gains since it was appointed to steer the institution to a nobler height in light of government’s ‘pro-poor agenda.’ Included in its ‘highs,’ soon after taking office the team immediately ensured that the employees start to receive their salary: 80% in the United States dollar and 20% in the Liberian dollars.

In line with the global dream of conservation to which Liberia signed up to uphold, two new national parks were created and officially launched by President George Weah. The Gola Forest National Park and the Krahn/Grebo Forest National Park were launched on April 26, 2018 at the Monrovia City Hall in during an elaborate occasion witnessed by interested FDA collaborating partners currently working in the forest sector.

Recently a wildlife Confiscation Unit was launched in Monrovia by the management team with the mandate to ensure that illegal wildlife trade is deterred as a way of protecting endangered species throughout the country.

The creation of the unit represented a practical translation of the strong desire of the Forestry Development Authority (FDA) and partners to uphold the globally demanded doctrine of conservation of nature, the FDA said. This gesture is geared towards conserving Liberia’s natural heritage for current and future generations through public awareness and enforcement of both the Liberian and international wildlife laws. In so doing the management team committed USD$5,000 towards the implementation of the project through its managing Director C. Mike Doryen.

At the program, Conservation International (CI) donated a check of US$1M while the Forestry Development Authority pledged to contribute a significant portion of the 10 percent of the taxes collected from commercial logging in the tone of US$ 1M as matching commitment to the project for sustainability.

The present Management Team now has a functional website through which its development activities and those of her collaborating partners are deposited for public consumption.

The REDD+ Implementation Unit (RIU), which coordinates the Liberian Forest Sector Project (LFSP) donated 14 vehicles to management thereby enhancing its field operations especially at a time when the management and sustainability of the parks and protected areas has become compelling required. Earlier the Flora & Fauna International (FFI) donated 67 pieces of motor bikes and four vehicles for use by the various parks.

The British Ambassador accredited to Liberia, Mr. David Belgrove, disclosed to MD C. Mike Doyern on Tuesday, October 30, 2018, that his country’s government was considering providing training opportunities for the forest rangers.

2018 LOWS: Among the Authority’s major lows in 2018, its Training Institute, which has been lying in ruin since it was destroyed in the civil war, is yet to be up and fully functioning again like in its pre-war days. The institute is located in Tubmanburg, Bomi County. The present FDA management says its renovation remains one of their dreams to accomplish.

Also, to satisfy government’s pro-poor policy, the management absorbed a total of 39 persons into its workforce. This is something was not done in conformity with the legal processes on employment but was intended to please, especially the hierarchy for the ruling Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC).

The Authority also busied itself confiscating dried meat from people when deforestation and other vices still plague the nation’s forest sector.

GRADE: C

2019 OUTLOOK: The coming year looks promising for the entity under the leadership of C. Mike Doryen. But we wait to see what good will come out of the present Management Team as it has begun to receive enormous partners’ supports.

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