Following President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s endorsement of the recommendation of the Board of National Oil Company of Liberia (NOCAL) to pay severance benefits to the entity’s president and chief executive officer (CEO), Dr. Randolph McClain and other officials, an anti-corruption group has described the president’s action as “unfortunate and supportive of corrupt practices in the public sector.Central for Transparency and Accountability in Liberia (CENTAL) last Friday during a press conference alleged that it was Dr. McClain’s “poor judgment” which had plunged the oil company into a serious financial crisis and as such, he and his colleagues do not deserve any lucrative benefits from NOCAL.Recently, President Sirleaf, addressing a press conference at her Ministry of Foreign Affairs office called for the immediate retirement of Dr. McClain and several others with severance pay to be approved by the Board of NOCAL.She did not mention how much money NOCAL’s board has allotted for McClain and his deputies as severance benefits neither did she say where the money would come from, with NOCAL teetering on the brink of bankruptcy.Mr. Anderson Miaman, acting executive director of CENTAL, said it is surprising that the president whose government has been stigmatized with corruption could endorse NOCAL board’s recommendation.Miaman suggested that the best thing President Sirleaf could have done was to order an immediate independent audit and an investigation to understand how millions of United States Dollars disappeared over the years from NOCAL.But, he said, he believes that the president was only interested in using taxpayers’ money to pay huge severance benefits to Dr. McClain and his collaborators.“What is even more baffling is the president’s decision to endorse NOCAL board’s recommendation to pay huge severance benefits to these very individuals whose poor judgment led to bankrupting the entity,” adding, “we take serious exception to her action and urge the president to rethink her decision.”Mr. Miaman said the most logical action would have been dismissals and the referral of McClain and his deputies to the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC).“We cannot continue to encourage misuse of the country’s resources by paying bonuses and benefits to individuals whose poor judgments lead to misuse of meager public resources on activities with no tangible benefits and impact on the lives of the people,” he stated.“We anticipated that the president would have forwarded senior officials and board members of the entity to the LACC to verify their assets and determine whether or not they illegally acquired wealth while serving in their respective positions,” Mr. Miaman complained.“That course of action is necessary to support efforts to fight corruption and ensure that public resources are judiciously expended and properly accounted for no matter who are involved.”NOCAL, he alleged paying fabulous benefits and travel allowances to a handful of Legislators and senior executives of the company in the name of compensations for countywide, local and international consultations on the Draft Petroleum Law of Liberia.“We are faced with the harsh reality of the institution’s bankruptcy and its inability to maintain its current workforce. If all the signs and recommendations coming from different circles of the public had been heeded, this embarrassing situation would have been averted,” Miaman stated.CENTAL is part of a consortium of civil society organizations committed to ensuring transparency and accountability in Liberia’ oil sector which recommended to the government that it should investigate spending by NOCAL during the consultation on the draft petroleum law.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)
The life of the Parking Meter Re-negotiation Committee came to an end with it submitting its final report and finding to the Mayor of Georgetown on August 2, 2017, but almost one week later, the report is yet to be circulated to Councillors. Georgetown Mayor, Patricia Chase Green acknowledged receiving the report, stating, “I am still looking at it as I said before there will be a special meeting held by Council, a copy would be given to every Councillor so they will have enough time to look at it and then we will look at the options that were recommended by the parking meter team,” she said.Georgetown Mayor Patricia Chase Green“I am reading the report in detail and so presently I have no information to give to the public,” Chase Green responded when asked about the content of the report.M&CC had entered into a contract with Smart City Solutions Inc on May 13, 2016, for parking meters to be implemented in Georgetown.However, the project came under intense scrutiny and rejections from various public and private stakeholders, the Opposition and even some central government officials over the clandestine way it was being foisted unto the populace, its prohibitive pricing and the contracting company’s general disregard with the way the new mechanism was introduced to the public, among many other concerns.After becoming effective in late January 2017, several large protests were staged in front of City Hall calling for the contract to be revoked, while multiple stakeholders took the M&CC and the SCSI to court over the matter.Under pressure, on March 21, 2017, the Minister of Communities who had initially passed the By-laws bringing parking meters into effect, ordered that it be suspended for a period of three months to facilitate the re-negotiations of the terms of the contract.The Parking Meter Committee was established on April 26, 2017, one month after Bulkan suspended the paid parking initiative. Its members consist of Malcolm Ferreira (Chairman), Roopnarine Persaud, Noelle Chow-Chee (Vice Chairman), Ivelaw Henry, Trichria Richards, Carlyle Goring, and Heston Bostwick.Since its establishment, the Committee has consulted with various stakeholders inclusive of the Movement Against Parking Meters and civil society. Consultations are ongoing and stakeholders are encouraged to visit the Councillors’ office to meet with the committee members and submit their proposals. When asked about the possibility of refunding citizens who would have bought parking meter credit in bulk quantities, the Mayor said it is too early to make a pronouncement, adding she will have to await the report from the Committee and would act accordingly. The Committee’s Terms of Reference (ToR) was drafted and voted upon by the majority of members of the M&CC. The ToR provides the Committee with the authority to “engage with all stakeholders within the parameters of the framework agreed upon by the Council, Cabinet and Smart City Solutions (SCSI) to seek to determine what terms of the agreement can and should be negotiated to bring the contract in harmony with the desires of the Council, Central Government, SCSI and the citizenry.The Mayor has since excused herself from all matters related to the renegotiation of the contract since it was herself, Town Clerk Royston King and Councillor Oscar Clarke who signed and implemented the controversial project. The PPP Councillors also have recused themselves since they noted they were against paid parking from the inception.