Monday, November 10, 2008

Two Experts Return Home after giving technical assistance to team investigating Email Scam

United Nations in Liberia

The Inquirer newspaper reports that two experts from the James Mintz Group, Inc (JMG) who were in the country to assist the Independent Ad-Hoc Committee to investigate the alleged e-mail scam linking the President office to corruption have returned home.
· According to a release issued in Monrovia recently, the group was engaged to assist the independent Ad Hoc Committee in the identification, reviewing and analyzing certain government computers and servers.
· The JMG experts were to also take a forensic image of the hard drives and servers, and analyze the data from those computers to determine their authenticity and review other information relevant to the investigation. The investigation involves former Minister of State, Willis Knuckles alleged circulation of emails soliciting money from the Liberia Ship and Corporate Registry (LISCR) relative to the extension of that company contract to manage the Liberia’s Maritime Programme. Meanwhile, the Liberian Express and the Parrot newspapers report that the ‘Dunn’s Committee’ headed by United States based Liberian Professor Elwood Dunn has been allotted an amount of US$ 400,000 for the investigation process.

Over-spending, Illegal Payments at NASSCORP --Audit Report Claims
(The News, Heritage, The Monitor)

· The report of audit conducted by the General Auditing Commission (GAC) on the National Social Security and Welfare Corporation (NASSCORP) covering the financial year 2005/6 and 2006/2007 revealed over spending and other illegal payments of honorarium and stipend to board members. The report indicated that between July 2005 and July 2007, the Board of Directors of NASSCORP awarded four increases in the remuneration it established and paid itself.
· According to the GAC, though NASSCORP Decree is explicit that the Director General of the entity shall not receive Board remuneration, the current Director General Francis Carbah and his immediate predecessor participated in honorarium and stipend payments made to the Board amounting to US$17,750.
· The Monitor newspaper quoting a GAC audit report called for the standardization of board fees for public institutions urging the government to ensure a timely resolution. Meanwhile, the Heritage newspaper reports that Mr. Carbah was over the weekend reportedly “stopped” from leaving the country to attend a World Bank Seminar on Social Security Reform in the U.S.

MTA Acquires Additional Buses to East Transport Problem
(The Informer, Heritage)

· The Monrovia Transit Authority (MTA) has announced the arrival of ten new buses to ease the transportation problem across the country. Addressing a news conference at the weekend, MTA Managing Director, Sewan Wiah said the buses came through a grant that was presented by an American based company in Holland.
· Mr. Wiah said though the buses are intended for the use of the public, he said students will be prioritized and that special arrangements will be put in place to allow them pay a minimum fee on the buses.

Press Union Elect New Leadership
(The Inquirer, The Monitor, The News, New Vision, The Parrot, Liberian Express, The Independent)

· The media reports that the Press Union of Liberia (PUL) has elected a new corps of officers to administer the affairs of the Union for the next two years. Those elected are the current Secretary General, Peter Quaqua as President. Mr. Quaqua won the elections by 137 votes from a total of 245 votes cast ahead of his rival Bernard Waritay with 107 votes.
· Broadcast journalist Philip Sandi was elected Secretary General by 120 votes ahead of Jallah Grayfield who garnered 69 votes, Philip Moore 38 votes, and George Walkins 15. The only female in the race, Inquirer’s Melissa Chea-Annan and LBS’s Jacob Parley both won by white ballot for the positions of Assistant Secretary General and Vice President respectively, while Mr. Joshua Kpenneh was re-elected Treasurer after defeating Moses Whenyou of Star Radio with 143 votes to 96. Although the election has ended but there were talks amongst supporters of Waritay that the process was marred by irregularities.

NIC Debunks Bribery Claims
(The News, The Inquirer, The Analyst, Daily Observer)

· The National Investment Commission (NIC) has described as “blatant, unwholesome, and diabolical lies” a local newspaper report that its officials have received kickbacks for the rebidding process for the Western Cluster mining concession. NIC in a press release over the weekend said the story published in the November 7-9 edition of the Liberian Express under the caption “LME, NIC Officials in Bribery Scam as ‘Knucklesgate’ probe gets underway is nothing but falsehood and fabrication intended to ruin the hard-earned image of the commission.
· According to the release, the story alleges that the Public Procurement and Concession Commission has requested a halt to the re-bidding process for the Western Cluster Iron Ore Mining Concession in the wake of reports that two more officials of the Ministry of Lands and Mines and the National Investment Commission may have received kickbacks in the deal. In the face of these developments, the NIC said, it is challenging the author of the story to go beyond mere allegation and provide credible proof to authenticate the story.

German Government to Train Road Builders
(National Chronicle, The Informer, The Monitor, The News, New Vision)

· The German Government has commenced a four-year capacity-building programme for private Liberian road builders. Under the arrangement through Inwent, the German government will develop the skills of local engineers in the field of road construction and maintenance over the four year period. Inwent Senior Project Manager for Business Development and Infrastructure, Heinrich Plote said the German government has been attracted to Liberia’s infrastructure development due to the destruction caused by the civil war.
· Mr. Plote spoke at the end of a planning workshop for members of the Association of Liberian Road Constructors in Monrovia. He said his government would support members of the organization and other private road constructors and enterprises in the road sector in Liberia.
· Mr. Plote said 200 private enterprises in the field of road construction throughout Liberia would benefit from the programme and the constructors will also be taught how to prepare tenders for contracts. Mr. Plote indicated that it has been observed that Liberian companies lack capacity to singularly undertake big projects.

Radio Summary
Local Media – Radio Veritas (News monitored today at 9:45 am)
LET-USA Dedicates US$45,000 School Project in Bong County
· The Liberia Educational Trust USA-branch has dedicated a US$45,000 primary school project in Salala, Bong County.
· The dedication which was carried out in collaboration with the Monrovia Office of LET is an annex to the Martha Tubman Primary School.
· According to the Chairman of LET-USA, Robert Sirleaf the dedication is in celebration of the students of the school and the people of Salala.
· Mr. Sirleaf said the school construction project is among several others being targeted by Government.
· The head of LET-Liberia, Dr. Evelyn Kandakai said Liberia stands to benefit from a total of US$1.3 million.
· The Salala School project was implemented by the Liberia Agency for Community Empowerment, LACE.
(Also reported on Star Radio, Truth F.M. and ELBC)

PUL Elect New Officials
(Also reported on Star Radio, Truth F.M. and ELBC)

More Buses to Ease Monrovia’s Transport Problem

STAR RADIO (News monitored today at 9:00 am)
UNMIL SRSG Takes Night Patrol with Police
· The Special Representative of the Secretary-General Ms. Ellen Margrethe Løj has acknowledged that the Liberia National Police (LNP) is still faced with numerous challenges but said the mission was prepared to join the LNP in facing these challenges which include logistics and infrastructure among others.
· Speaking when she toured several police stations and depots in Monrovia and its environs Saturday night, Ms. Løj said there is nothing the UN wants more than success for the LNP in its operations.
· She said the tour gave her a firsthand impression of the challenges faced by LNP personnel, especially during their night operations.
(Also reported on Truth F.M. and ELBC)

Government to Construct National AIDS Secretariat
· Government says it would shortly construct a National AIDS Commission Secretariat to lead a national response to the disease.
· According to a release, a steering committee has been constituted to coordinate HIV/AIDS activities in various ministries and agencies. The HIV/AIDS steering committee would provide needed policy direction, institutional development and capacity building.

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