Calm Returns to Baraake, Maryland

first_imgCross section of beneficiaries patiently await payment Female beneficiary receiving her check SIFCA and MOPP Executives being received Meditation and prayer Array of guests seated at program Traditional welcome with kola and pepper presented to MOPP CRC executives Alassane Doumbia (2nd from right) with MOPP Executivecenter_img Traditional welcome with kola and pepper presented to MOPP CRC executivesCalm has now returned to Barrake, Maryland County, with the settlement of financial claims from aggrieved farmers in the Baraake (LIBSUCO) area. Protest action by aggrieved locals over compensation for resettlement had brought operations at the Cavalla Rubber Company(CRC) and the Maryland Oil Palm Plantation(MOPP) to a near halt.But the chairman of the SIFCA Group of Companies and owner of the Cavalla Rubber Corporation (CRC) and the Maryland Oil Palm Plantation (MOPP) Allassane Doumbia last weekend  brought smiles to the faces of aggrieved locals of the Baraake area, when he visited in person to observe  the payment of monies to farmers whose structures were demolished in order to make way for the plantation.The payment exercise on Friday had earlier been preceded by the payment of compensation for crops amounting to a little over US$3 million, according to CRC-MOPP General Manager John Barkemeni. The Ministry of Internal Affairs, represented by its  Deputy Minister for Research and Development Planning Mr. Olayee Collins which had been closely involved in negotiations aimed at resolving the situation was also in attendance at the program.In remarks Minister Collins thanked the citizens for remaining law-abiding even though they were aggrieved. He said the last few weeks had indeed been difficult, but thanks to the hard work of General Manager John Barkemeni and thanks also to the resolve of the SIFCA Group of Companies and CRC, MOPP under the leadership of Alasssane Doumbia, the impasse was finally broken and the matter is now resolved.Thanking the people for their patience and understanding, Minister Collins pledged the commitment of the Government of Liberia to work with locals and the CRC-MOPP, to create a conducive environment for everyone’s benefit. He also thanked the people of Baraake for their patience and for agreeing to work with the company.Also making remarks at ceremonies marking the beginning of the payment process, the Executive Chairman of the Board of the SIFCA Group of companies and owner of the Cavalla Rubber Corporation and the Maryland Oil Palm Plantation Mr. Alassane Doumbia said, he decided to take the challenge to invest in Maryland County. He said his company believes in investing in people they work with, noting that success can only be assured if concern for the well-being of the people is taken into account.“We arrived here just 5 to 6 years ago to take over farmlands that had been abandoned and were lying dormant and took a bet that what other people left behind, we can revive. My father, myself and many members of our team were warmly received by the people of Pleebo-Sodoken District and the Government of Liberia.  And because of that hospitality, warm friendship and your willingness to work with us, we decided to take the challenge and invest in Maryland. This was back in 2008-2009. We knew from the beginning that things will not be easy; but we also knew that if we hold hands and work hard together, you and us, not just the company, but all of us, can make this to work”.He urged people to look at the bigger picture wherein prosperity can be assured for all. Mr. Doumbia said his company’s desire to create prosperity for all cannot be achieved if people are in confusion. This, according to him, was the primary reason behind his company’s decision to pay compensation to farmers rather than having to wait for the government to do so.“For us, the big picture is to make prosperity available to everyone. We are a private company, we work to make profit; but we know that the only way we can get profit is when people work with us and that they gain something and feel part of the company. I invite all of you to feel part of MOPP CRC.”He said the protest action has now come to an end with the decision to pay compensation for demolished structures belonging to people in the former LIBSUCO plantation area. It can be recalled that locals had been protesting against what they said was the destruction of their crops and structures without compensation, owing to their relocation from land proposed for the oil palm plantation.The tense standoff that ensued was diffused by the management of the Maryland Oil Plantation (MOPP) when it decided to provide just compensation for the land to help enable resettlement of the affected farmers. “There have been some issues in the past few months, issues that could have escalated into a major crisis. I want to thank everyone in Pleebo and Maryland, the youth and their leaders, the elders and traditional chiefs, the women and everyone for making sure that whatever problems that are out there, we can resolve them in peace through dialogue,” Mr. Doumbia stressed.Explaining further he said, “I was hoping to be present last time when the Minister of Internal Affairs Honorable Varney Sirleaf came here. But I was away on a mission. We heard all the issues that you raised with him and we have listened and will continue to listen. We want to thank you for being patient but now we must move on. IF CRC- MOPP are successful, you will benefit. Your children will go to good schools, the sick people will get medication, you will have enough money to take care of yourself and your family. That is what we all want and that is what we are making possible.“We want to create prosperity, but this will not and cannot happen if we cannot operate in an atmosphere of peace, security and partnership with the community. When people threaten other people and create tension, no one benefits. So, I am here today to ask you to embrace these two companies as your own. I am sure someone you know works for CRC and MOPP and you want that person to continue to make money and support their family,” Doumbia said. Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs Olayee Collins making remarks MOPP Executive presenting check to beneficiary Final Settlement by SIFCA and MOPP to Farmers of Baraake, Maryland County1 of 9 The Liberia Sugar Corporation (LIBSUCO) concession area was once the site of a prosperous sugarcane plantation and a sugar plant which produced sugar for the local market. However during the civil war, the  the sugar plant was vandalized and the sugarcane plantation went into disuse as locals harvested the cane and began planting crops. Under the terms of the concession agreement with SIFCA, the Government of Liberia assumed responsibility to compensate local farmers for the use of the land and the loss of their structures.But the Government of Liberia, owing to difficult economic constraints, found itself unable to compensate locals. This led to a spate of protest actions which affected the day-to-day operations of the company. The CRC-MOPP, which prides itself on the creation of shared prosperity for the company and local people, decided to underwrite the cost until at which time later the Government of Liberia would reimburse the company.And this approach proved effective as the MOPP has to date paid a little over US$3 million to local farmers for their crops, according to CRC-MOPP General manager Mr. John Barkemeni. But as if this was not enough, locals embarked on a series of protest actions in demand of compensation for their structures, which were earmarked for destruction to make way for the plantation.In an interview with the vice chairman of the Maryland County Civil Society Organization Norris Boketa, he outlined that locals had engaged in protest actions because they were not sure that they would have been compensated at all; secondly, because they did not know how much they would receive for their structures. According to him, the Liberia Revenue Authority(LRA) was invited to conduct an assessment of all structures in order to provide a basis for payment.According to Boketa, there were noticeable errors which were detected in the assessment report by the LRA. He said locals in some cases were submitting more than one photo for the same structure but were making additional claims based on the photos submitted. Based on this, the MOPP requested a resurvey in 2016 as well as a reassessment by the LRA real estate tax division. The result of the resurvey and reassessment met the approval of all affected persons. Based on the results, the management of MOPP undertook to pay compensation to all affected individuals, Boketa observed.He said this was the first time ever that civil society organizations had been invited to observe the negotiations and payment process as a way of ensuring transparency.Meanwhile Mr. Doumbia has said a total of 154 beneficiaries were identified following the resurvey. 74 beneficiaries from the LIBSUCO area were identified while 46 individuals were identified as owners of new structures. 34 beneficiaries from the Cavalla Rubber Company whose properties were allegedly undervalued but later reassessed and revalued were identified for payment. Altogether, according to Mr. Doumbia, a total of US$133,287.21 is to be paid to 174 beneficiaries.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

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Tractor Run in memory of Michael O’Donnell to take place in Lettermacaward

first_imgLettermacaward Parish are hosting a Memorial Tractor Run for Michael O’ Donnell.The tractor run will take place on Sunday the 2nd of April and all proceeds raised will go towards the RNLI.Assembly is at 12pm at Lettermacaward Chapel Car Park with the run beginning at 2pm. Vintage cars are also welcome to join in on the run!To enter your tractor/car the entry fee is €10 and includes refreshments in the hall afterwards.Everyone is welcome for what will be a fantastic day for a great cause.For more information you can check out the Facebook event page or call James on 0860628013. Tractor Run in memory of Michael O’Donnell to take place in Lettermacaward was last modified: March 11th, 2017 by Elaine McCalligShare this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on Telegram (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to share on Skype (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window) Tags:charityLettermacawardRNLItractor runlast_img read more

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Court hears free-speech issue

first_imgWASHINGTON – The U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments Wednesday in a First Amendment case stemming from a claim of retaliation in the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office, which could determine whether the job-related speech of the nation’s 20 million public employees is protected. In an hourlong session, justices considering Garcetti v. Ceballos sought a middle ground in the central question of whether a public employee’s on-the-job speech – in this case, a memo – is protected under the Constitution. If the justices ultimately decide the answer is no, some experts warn that government employees who want to blow the whistle on corruption and malfeasance will have no weapon against retaliation. If the answer is yes, government agencies worry that employees will have near-total immunity against discipline or firing and will deluge the courts with lawsuits. “Job-required speech should not be protected by the First Amendment,” argued attorney Cindy S. Lee of Glendale on behalf of the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office, formerly headed by Gil Garcetti. The case pits various free-speech advocates and Deputy District Attorney Richard Ceballos – who now works in the downtown central trials division – against the District Attorney’s Office, the Bush administration and a broad coalition of municipal governments. It hinges on the actions of Ceballos, who in 2000 informed his supervisors that he thought a deputy sheriff had lied in an affidavit used to obtain a search warrant. His supervisors nevertheless decided to prosecute the case. Ceballos then informed the defense about the investigation, and testified during a hearing on a motion to dismiss the case. The judge allowed the case to proceed. Ceballos maintained he was demoted, transferred and threatened because of his actions. On Wednesday, Lee and Bush administration attorney Dan Himmelfarb argued that because Ceballos’ job was to assess cases going to trial, his memo was not protected under the First Amendment. Only speech made as a citizen on a matter of public interest, they maintained, is constitutionally safeguarded. But Bonnie Robin-Vergeer, arguing for Ceballos, said the line between citizen and employee is “malleable,” and maintained Ceballos was writing his memo to the government, not for the government. Noting that about 100 cases involving job-related internal communications are brought each year in federal court, she called the fear of a lawsuit deluge unfounded. Moreover, Robin-Vergeer said, the public will pay the price if government employees felt cowed into keeping quiet about workplace problems. “Imagine a FEMA employee who thinks FEMA is not prepared for the next hurricane” and is fired for writing a memo outlining those concerns, she argued. “It is intrinsically important for a public employee who knows what ails the agency to have an avenue.” Justices struggled for ways to protect both employers and free speech. “Is there any middle approach that gives discretion to the government but doesn’t let them exceed that in a certain case?” Justice Stephen Breyer asked, noting, “a government has to have some authority to discipline a person.” Added Justice Anthony Kennedy, “Are there some matters where the employer can protect its interests?” Chief Justice John Roberts, presiding over his seventh case since the U.S. Senate approved his nomination, posed hypothetical situations to both sides. He wondered about the rights of a university professor who was fired for a lecture, and even his own right to fire a clerk who “says Justice so-and-so’s jurisprudence is wacky.” After the hearing, Ceballos said he didn’t sense the court leaning clearly to either side and he maintained that the public good is at stake in the decision. “Will prosecutors and all government employees feel they are protected from retaliation if they expose corruption, waste or fraud?” he said. Lisa Friedman, (202) 662-873 lisa.friedman@langnews.com AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREWalnut’s Malik Khouzam voted Southern California Boys Athlete of the Week160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img read more

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BC supports Scheers call for federal money laundering inquiry Eby

first_imgVICTORIA — A campaign promise to launch an inquiry into money laundering by Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer is receiving strong support in British Columbia where illegal cash has skewed the real estate market and helped fuel the opioid crisis.Scheer made the announcement during an Ontario campaign stop, saying the inquiry will focus on cleaning up the real estate sector.B.C. Attorney General David Eby says he doesn’t want to wade into the federal election campaign, but any call by political parties to fight the nationwide issue of money laundering is a step forward.The B.C. New Democrat government called an inquiry into money laundering last May following independent reviews that found crime groups were funnelling billions of dollars into illicit drugs, real estate and other parts of the economy.Eby made the comments after speaking to a conference of crime, finance and real estate experts examining money laundering in Canada.Former B.C. Supreme Court Justice Austin Cullen will head the B.C. inquiry, which has the power to compel witnesses to testify.This report by The Canadian press was first published Sept. 23, 2019. The Canadian Presslast_img read more

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