By Bill W. Cooper
United States Ambassador, Michael McCarthy has stressed the needs for the Liberian government to take some practical steps aimed at addressing the issues of power theft in the country.
He observed that the Liberia Electricity Corporation (LEC) which is the nation’s biggest power generating company is unable to generate the desired revenues to continue its smooth operations in the country.
Speaking to a team of reporters recently at his U.S Embassy office in Monrovia, the U.S Envoy intoned that the issue of power theft represents one of the greatest threats to Liberia’s development including preventing the company from maintenance and installing of new connections as well as the increase in electricity price for Liberians among others.
“With respect to the power sector, it is encouraging to see the government of Liberia, law enforcement agencies, and the LEC begin taking serious steps towards addressing the issues of power theft in the country,” he said.
Amb. McCarthy named the consistent increase of arrests of Liberians as well as other nationals violating the electricity law, and the commitments from officials ensuring investigations, prosecutions, and other disciplinary actions will proceed without interference are some of the ways to eradicate power theft from Liberia.
“As with the TIP, there is still much that needs to be done. Prosecution are one keyway of measuring that progress, and we hope to see actions including judicial prosecutions under the power theft law of Liberia,” he stressed.
The US Diplomat also mentioned that a legal sanction to be placed against those within the government and the LEC known to be facilitating the crime, “with many thousands of Liberians faithfully paying their metered bills, and others patiently waiting to be connected to power, by not punishing those who break the law, the government is punishing those who follow it.”
He further used the time to thank LEC board for requesting President Weah and the World Bank to approve a six-month contract extension for the international management team that is currently working at the entity.
“This tram’s departure is currently schedule for January, but the recruitment for new management is moving well behind that schedule, which suggests to us that this proposal has real merit. Keeping the current team in place long enough to ensure a smooth transition will be critical to consolidate the important progress by LEC and government, as well as to safeguard our enormous investments in this sector,” the U.S Representative to Liberia said.
Amb. McCarthy is also calling on members of the Liberian Senate to sincerely perform their oversight responsibilities by carefully reviewing the ArcelorMittal agreement signed recently.
It can be recalled, the Liberian government through the Executive Branch signed the amended ArcelorMittal Mineral Development Agreement something the government bragged about that will bring the country more than US$800 million in foreign direct investment as well as create some temporary and longtime jobs for hundreds of Liberians.
The U.S Ambassador noted that though the agreement was under negotiation for quite some time; he hope that the agreement, if approved by the Senate, will open the door for Liberia to become a future regional exporter of iron ore from Guinea, adding, “because the progress so far has since, send a signal to investors that deals can get dine in Liberia.”
Meanwhile, the United States Embassy here has announced the arrival of 168,000 doses of Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine that the United States is sharing with Liberia through COVAX. We are sharing these doses safely, equitably, and with no strings attached.
“We are doing this with the singular objective of saving lives. This batch brings the number of doses of the J&J vaccine provided to Liberia from the United States to 470,400 (the first arrived on July 25, 2021). Together, this donation, which arrived at Roberts International Airport, via COVAX on October 23, along with the previous donation make up the largest by a single country to Liberia to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.
Deputy Chief of Mission Joel Maybury joined Minister of Health Wilhelmina Jallah and UNICEF Country Director Laila Gad at Harvest Intercontinental Cathedral in Monrovia on Sunday to welcome the donation and join a vaccine drive. DCM Maybury expressed full confidence in the vaccines, “These vaccines are safe and effective.
“We are approaching 7 billion total vaccine shots given across 184 countries.” And he urged Liberians not to wait to get vaccinated, “My last message to you is to don’t wait. Protect yourself now so you are prepared just in case another wave hits Liberia. These vaccines are safe, effective, available, and free. It just takes a moment, and it offers a path back to normalcy.”
Safe and effective vaccines are our best tool to end the pandemic, and the United States has committed to providing 1.1 billion COVID-19 vaccine doses worldwide. To date, the United States has delivered more than 205 million doses of vaccine to more than 100 countries. The commitment to provide COVID-19 vaccine doses to 92 Gavi Advance Market Commitment economies and African Union Member States will continue to fulfill U.S. President Biden’s commitment to strengthen the fight against the global pandemic.
As President Biden has said: the United States is committed to bringing the same urgency to international vaccination efforts that we have demonstrated at home. We are sharing these vaccines to save lives and to lead the world in bringing an end to the pandemic.
“We look forward to continued coordination with the African Union and Africa’s Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) to deliver these doses across the continent through the COVAX initiative via their established logistical channels,”
A one day symposium for trial lawyers of the National Taskforce Against Trafficking in Person (TIP), contracted to assist the Ministry of Justice in the prosecution TIP cases were held today , Saturday, October 23rd. at the Ministry of Labor in Congo Town, Monrovia.
In his opening remarks Labor Minister Cllr. Charles Gibson welcome his professional colleagues and stressed the need for adequate preparation before the opening of November Term of Court to ensure the successful prosecution of TIP cases. He observed that although all the contracted lawyers have vest trial experiences, many lawyers don’t frequently come across Human Trafficking cases. He noted that the aim of the symposium was to explore and discuss the elements that need to be proven in order to establish guilt, and agreed on trial techniques and strategies for upcoming cases.
The symposium was attended by eleven contracted and in-house lawyers of the Ministry of Labor. The Ministry of Justice served as facilitator
U.S Gov’t Wants Practical
Actions To Address Power Theft
…Ambassador Michael McCarthy
By Bill W. Cooper