Tuesday, September 7, 2010

When Lawmakers Break the Law; Poor, Innocent Liberians Left to Suffer

Source: FrontPage Africa


THE INTERNATIONAL watchdog group Global Witness on Monday reported that a member of Liberia’s House of Representatives Moses Kollie has six percent shares in a logging company which stands to benefit from 80 percent reduction in annual fees paid by timber concessionaires, contributing to a loss of US$10.3 million dollars to Liberia.

The GW report warned that logging companies in Liberia are trying to get out of paying millions of dollars in tax to the country's cash-starved government through a dubious new law.
ACCORDING TO Global Witness, members of the Liberian House of Representatives have drafted legislation to reduce the annual fees paid by timber concessionaries by 80 percent. “This could cost Liberians US$10.3 million a year in much needed revenue. In a clear conflict of interests, one of the lawmakers supporting the move holds shares in a logging firm that stands to benefit financially. The news comes as evidence mounts that the companies concerned are contributing next to nothing to Liberia's development,” the report said.
THE GW report comes on the heels of a recent series of investigative reports detailing possible conflict of interest issues on the part of the head of the National Investment Commission, Richard Tolbert.
BOTH TOLBERT and Alex Tyler, Speaker of the House of Representatives recently paid a visit to Russia under the guise of coincidentally attending an Investment and parliamentarian conference. An investigation by FrontPageAfrica later uncovered that Liberia was not among the list of countries invited to the conference.
LAST WEEK, two members of the Bomi caucus, in separate interviews with FrontPageAfrica, distanced themselves from what is being described as an ‘entertainment mission’ by the speaker and not an official one. Caucus members declared in interviews with FrontPageAfrica Tuesday that the trip did not meet the approval of the Caucus neither did it seek its interest. Both senators of Bomi expressed shock over the Speaker’s clandestine trip which they denied ever having knowledge of; noting that the trip was a mystery. Bomi County Senior Senator Lahai Lassana said: “In my capacity as the Senior Senator of Bomi, I’m not aware of the trip made by Speaker Tyler. I don’t think the trip he made to Russia along with Dr. Tolbert, as being reported by your newspaper, on behalf of the Western Cluster Iron Ore deposit in our county, was on behalf of the county”. Junior Senator Richard Devine, said it was impossible for the Speaker to attend an international conference in the name of the Caucus without the consent of its members.
NOW THE GLOBAL Witness report pointing to conflict of interest breach by a member of the House of Representatives is poised to shed more light on the legislative body which has been embroiled in reports and allegations of corruption since it was inaugurated in 2006.
THE WATCHDOG GROUP says it has copies of the Articles of Incorporation of the logging concessionaire International Consultant Capital, dated 20 August 2007, which show that Moses Y Kollie owns 6% of the shares in the firm. Moses Y Kollie is also a member of the Liberian House of Representatives, representing Lofa County. Accompanying the draft law is a report of the Joint Committee on Ways, Means and Finance, Judiciary and Agriculture, on the Act to Abolish Land Rental Bid Premium, which includes signatures of members of the House of Representatives who support the proposed legislation. Moses Y Kollie is one of these signatories.
IF THE REPORT IS TRUE, Representative Kollie must move at once to clear the air on the matter and clarify whether or not his shares and interest in the company was a motive for speedily drafted a legislation to reduce the annual fees paid by timber concessionaries by 80 percent.
LIBERIA HAS COME a long way since the end of the civil war and lawmakers have repeatedly deny using their offices to conduct unscrupulous business deals under the table. But the latest involving Representative Kollie is no doubt an indication that the post-war legislative body is in need of some cleansing. The future of Liberia depends on it and once again it appears elected and appointed officials are mortgaging Liberia’s future for their personal benefit against the common good of the nation.

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Inside Liberia with Bernard Gbayee Goah

Everyone is a genius

Everyone is a genius. But if you judge a fish on its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid. – A Einstein

Drawing the line in Liberia

Crimes sponsored, committed, or masterminded by handful of individuals cannot be blamed upon an entire nationality. In this case, Liberians! The need for post-war justice is a step toward lasting peace, stability and prosperity for Liberia. Liberia needs a war crimes tribunal or some credible legal forum that is capable of dealing with atrocities perpetrated against defenseless men, women and children during the country's brutal war. Without justice, peace shall remain elusive and investment in Liberia will not produce the intended results. - Bernard Gbayee Goah

Men with unhealthy characters should not champion any noble cause

They pretend to advocate the cause of the people when their deeds in the dark mirror nothing else but EVIL!!
When evil and corrupt men try to champion a cause that is so noble … such cause, how noble it may be, becomes meaningless in the eyes of the people - Bernard Gbayee Goah.

If Liberia must move forward ...

If Liberia must move forward in order to claim its place as a civilized nation amongst world community of nations, come 2017 elections, Liberians must critically review the events of the past with honesty and objectivity. They must make a new commitment to seek lasting solutions. The track records of those who are presenting themselves as candidates for the position of "President of the Republic of Liberia" must be well examined. Liberians must be fair to themselves because results from the 2011 elections will determine the future of Liberia’s unborn generations to come - Bernard Gbayee Goah

Liberia's greatest problem!

While it is true that an individual may be held responsible for corruption and mismanagement of funds in government, the lack of proper system to work with may as well impede the process of ethical, managerial, and financial accountability - Bernard Gbayee Goah

What do I think should be done?

The situation in Liberia is Compound Complex and cannot be fixed unless the entire system of government is reinvented.
Liberia needs a workable but uncompromising system that will make the country an asylum free from abuse, and other forms of corruption.
Any attempt to institute the system mentioned above in the absence of rule of law is meaningless, and more detrimental to Liberia as a whole - Bernard Gbayee Goah

Liberia's Natural Resources
Besides land water and few other resources, most of Liberia’s dependable natural resources are not infinite, they are finite and therefore can be depleted.
Liberia’s gold, diamond, and other natural resources will not always be an available source of revenue generation for its people and its government. The need to invent a system in government that focuses on an alternative income generation method cannot be over emphasized at this point - Bernard Gbayee Goah

Liberia needs a proper system
If Liberians refuse to erect a proper system in place that promotes the minimization of corruption and mismanagement of public funds by government institutions, and individuals, there will come a time when the value of the entire country will be seen as a large valueless land suited on the west coast of Africa with some polluted bodies of waters and nothing else. To have no system in place in any country is to have no respect for rule of law. To have no respect for rule of law is to believe in lawlessness. And where there is lawlessness, there is always corruption - Bernard Gbayee Goah

Solving problems in the absence of war talks

As political instability continues to increase in Africa, it has become abundantly clear that military intervention as a primary remedy to peace is not a durable solution. Such intervention only increases insecurity and massive economic hardship. An existing example which could be a valuable lesson for Liberia is Great Britain, and the US war on terror for the purpose of global security. The use of arms whether in peace keeping, occupation, or invasion as a primary means of solving problem has yield only little results. Military intervention by any country as the only solution to problem solving will result into massive military spending, economic hardship, more fear, and animosity as well as increase insecurity. The alternative is learning how to solve problems in the absence of war talks. The objective of such alternative must be to provide real sustainable human security which cannot be achieved through military arm intervention, or aggression. In order to achieve results that will make the peaceful coexistence of all mankind possible, there must be a common ground for the stories of all sides to be heard. I believe there are always three sides to every story: Their side of the story, Our side of the story, and The truthBernard Gbayee Goah


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