GOL Must Stop the Corrupt Practice of Front-Loading

first_imgIt is called “Front Loading” in Government circles and it has been trending since 2006 and there is no sign yet on the horizon of the scrapping of this odious policy that promotes and encourages corruption in the handling of government contracts.Front Loading is a system or practice wherein a contractor of a given project is paid fifty percent (50%) of the total value of the contract well before any actual work is done. Under such arrangements kickbacks are paid upfront by the contractor to holders of the project. In a number of cases on record, the projects are left uncompleted, thus requiring the project holder to seek new contractors to complete the project.When selected, the new contractor’s first action is to condemn all work done by the previous contractor in order to provide justification for refinancing of the project. When the bidding/selection process is completed, the new contractor is front-loaded meaning fifty percent (50%) of the fees charged is paid up front to facilitate and enable the payment of kickbacks.Thus for example, a donor may provide financial support to a government project which the donor may not have the resources or expertise to execute directly. Under what is referred to as a “Loan on Arrangement” (LOA) funds are transferred on request to the particular government agency in charge of the project.Under such arrangements, the Government of Liberia, upon completion of the project, provides a full report to the donor agency detailing how the funds were expended. It is a process meant to facilitate and enhance rapid and efficient delivery of services to the Government of Liberia.But the system has been subject to abuse and it is now high time that such system and practice come under critical review. Why? Because through abuse of the system by corrupt functionaries, thousands if not millions of dollars intended for public use, are siphoned off to private pockets.It is this practice which appears to be embedded in the recently passed EBOMAF contract agreement wherein the selected contractor will be paid sixty percent (60%) upfront even before he commences the project. And this may probably be the same situation with the Eton financed road project agreement.To drive the matter home the story carried in the June 22nd edition of the Daily Observer and subsequent revelations is a case in point. The United Nations Development Program provided support to the Liberian Judiciary for the construction of court house facilities in Botota, Bong County.According to Daily Observer reporter Abednego Davis who covered the story, the cost of the project was put at US$138,269.96 and that UNDP proceeded to pay 90 percent of the project cost before the project was completed. The project was not completed and the contractor, Semoh Group of Companies was taken to court as a result.What is now emerging is that a corrupt functionary, then in the employ of UNDP had manipulated the bidding results and awarded the contract to a company he owned, never having disclosed his personal connection to the Semoh Group of companies.Consistent with the practice of “Front-Loading” the Semoh Group of Companies requested fifty percent (50% ) payment upfront from Judiciary officials, under the “LOA” arrangement frequently used by government agencies executing donor supported projects.The Judiciary paid this money upfront rather than as per completion of milestones or benchmarks as would ordinarily be the case. New contractors hired to complete the project according to available information, firstly condemned previous work done on the project and accordingly demanded “Front Loading”.But the problem was Semoh Group of Companies had already been “Front-Loaded” and the Judiciary was not placed to provide the required funds for new “Front-Loading”. It is our understanding that the owner of the Semoh Group of Companies had been separated from the UNDP after he fraudulently manipulated the bid results, although his fraudulent act had not at the time been discovered.The point being underscored here is that our financial and accountability systems especially those concerning procurement of goods and services have over the years been bastardized and transformed into instruments of personal control and self-enrichment. Consider how, for example, the Public Procurement and Concessions Commission was conveniently left out of the process selecting the road contractors in the recent road financing agreements.The both loan agreements appear to be smelly of the odious “Front-Loading” arrangements. The raucous cheers from legislators, calling on the George Weah Government to source yet more loans, without even subjecting the loan agreements to rigorous scrutiny, ring loud bells of suspicion about the unprecedented haste with which those agreements were approved by the Legislature.As it appears, the uncompleted Belle Yella road project and several uncompleted projects around the country which are all suffering from the “Front-Loading” syndrome have not taught our leaders any lessons at all. More worrisome is the prospect of possible failure of the newly proposed road projects, since no performance bonds required of the proposed contractors.Why were all such lapses including the virtual waiver of due diligence requirements permitted to stand? Is it because our officials have been “Front-Loaded”? The practice of Front-Loading must be stopped and it should be done NOW.Donor agencies are called upon to ensure that funds intended for the use and benefit of ordinary Liberians are not used to “Front-Load” corrupt officials.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

Kevin Carmichael The idea that Canadians need oil and gas to make

first_img Share this storyKevin Carmichael: The idea that Canadians need oil and gas to make a living overlooks the data Tumblr Pinterest Google+ LinkedIn The vacancy numbers also expose all kinds of structural flaws that restrain the labour market from reaching even more impressive heights.Unfilled positions in Quebec increased by about 21,000, by about 12,400 in Ontario and by about 9,300 in British Columbia; openings decreased from the first quarter of 2018 in Alberta and Saskatchewan.That condition has existed for a while, suggesting that something is blocking Westerners from seeking out opportunities in central Canada or B.C. The numbers appear to suggest that we have a mobility problem, an issue that a lot of policy thinkers take for granted.Free-market types assume an unemployed person will seek out a job, no matter what. And the highly educated advisers of policymakers and executives assume everyone is as keen to leave home as they were when they set out to collect degrees and passport stamps.But academics, while attempting to explain the rise of populism, have discovered that some of us are more committed to our communities than previously imagined. The economies of Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal are booming — and they have the house prices to prove it. That means a job in any of those places is only attractive to someone from Saskatchewan if it pays enough to offset the cost-of-living shock. And even then, that person might feel better off in a community where he or she can rely on friends and family for support.Statistics Canada found that the number of openings in health care and social assistance increased by 19 per cent from the first quarter of 2018, to 61,860 unfilled positions. What you need to know about passing the family cottage to the next generation Sponsored By: Email Facebook Twitter Recommended For YouTilray® Hosts Official Ribbon-Cutting Ceremony at European Union Campus for Medical Cannabis Production and DistributionToronto’s apartment crunch is easing — but average rent still $2,475Midweek Brexit magnifies headache for banksAurora Cannabis wins contract to supply medical cannabis to Italy, one of the most strictly regulated markets in the worldANALYSIS-Can Europe, Brexit inspire China’s bid for mega market? advertisement More Last week, I received an email that called me “stupid” and wondered if I was a “communist” because I had written about the opportunity inherent in the tens of trillions of dollars that have accumulated in private funds devoted to reversing climate change.The author of the email appeared to see sustainable finance as a Trojan horse that would destroy the oil and gas industry. He asked: Without oil, how were Canadians supposed to make a living? “Look at what propaganda you are selling,” the emailer said.No serious person talks about ending oil and gas production anytime soon. The column in question actually emphasized how sustainable finance could be used to extend the life of the oilsands by funding innovation that could reduce emissions. But let’s think about the notion that without oil there is no other way for Canadians to make a living. Unemployment is at record low, so why are Canadians so worried about job insecurity, recession and cost of living? No easy solutions for Albertans facing long-term unemployment as recovery stalls Why do we have high youth unemployment concurrent with a national labour shortage? The sentiment that the economy would tumble into a depression if not for few sacred industries is widely held. Someone attached to the General Motors Co. plant in Oshawa, Ont. could have written a similar email. Or a real-estate broker in Vancouver. Or a dairy farmer from just about anywhere. All of those industries face uncertain futures for one reason or another, and it’s hard to imagine a future in which they aren’t expanding the terms of trade or pumping up local wealth.Canada’s economy has its flaws, and one of them is this notion that its success is contingent on any one group of companies. The economy is more dynamic than that. In the abstract, there are hundreds of thousands of ways to make a living at the moment, at least according to Statistics Canada’s latest quarterly report on job vacancies, an under-appreciated gauge of the economy’s health.StatCan counted 506,000 unfilled positions in the first quarter, a 10 per cent increase from the same period a year earlier and the most in any first quarter since the agency started publishing these data in 2015. So there is more evidence that the national labour market really is as hot as some of the too-good-to-true data from recent months suggest. “It’s a useful gauge of employer sentiment,” as actual job listings are more trustworthy than sentiment surveys, said Brendon Bernard, economist at Indeed Canada, a web-based hiring site. “It shows the strength of the labour market.”… the highly educated advisers of policymakers and executives assume everyone is as keen to leave home as they were Kevin Carmichael: The idea that Canadians need oil and gas to make a living overlooks the data Our economy is more dynamic than that, but we need to — collectively — fix some serious structural flaws Workers at Fab-U-Tech Industries in Nisku, Alta. install a new 1500-ton press brake that will form two-inch-thick steel plates used in the oil and gas industry.Postmedia file photo Join the conversation → Reddit June 18, 20196:26 PM EDT Filed under News Economy 27 Comments Comment Four of the 10 economic regions with the fastest-growing job vacancy rates are in Quebec, including the Mauricie, where openings increased by almost 90 per cent from the first quarter of 2018. But you’d have to be comfortable in French — or willing to learn — to live happily in any of them, and you’d be at the back of the province’s notoriously long line for a family doctor. If you are a unilingual Albertan, you might prefer to take your chances on landing a job in Calgary or Edmonton, which are rarer, but still relatively well paid.There also is a skills gap. The number of openings in health care and social assistance increased by 19 per cent from the first quarter of 2018, to 61,860 unfilled positions, according to StatCan. The number of postings by companies in professional, scientific and technical services surged 28 per cent to almost 42,000.Hospitals and clinics might consider higher wages: they were offering an average of $23.70 per hour in the first quarter, 10 cents an hour more than a year earlier. Tech companies appear to accept that talent is at a premium, however; unfilled positions in that industry come with average hourly pay of $30.10, on par with oil-and-gas and four per cent higher than a year earlier.Companies should probably also stop waiting for someone else to train the workers they need. In April, Montreal-based Aldo Group, which sells shoes and accessories in about 100 countries, announced that it would back a course in shoe design at Lasalle College. “We’re trying to get ahead of a problem,” David Bensadoun, the company’s chief executive, told me in an interview at the time. “There wasn’t a critical mass” of talent, he said, and “teaching on the job is hard.”There are lots of ways for Canadians to make a living. The risk is we don’t do enough collectively to ensure all those empty positions get filled.•Email: kcarmichael@postmedia.com | Twitter: CarmichaelKevin Featured Stories Getty Images Kevin Carmichael ← Previous Next →last_img read more