It 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)
– points to party’s track record of promoting young talentContrary to the coalition Government, which is dominated by senior citizens at the top of the hierarchy, Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo is assuring that his party, if elected into Government, will propel youths into positions that will allow their dynamism to bring about real change.Jagdeo was at the time being interviewed on the radio show “Hot Seat” by radio host Curtis Armstrong, popularly known as “DJ Casual” when it was pointed out that the majority of the voting population are youths.“We have always kept our promise to young people. I started off in the PPP as a Minister in my 20s. I became President at 35 years old. I’m still in the party. When I was President, over 60 per cent of my Cabinet was in their 20s, 30s and 40s. You had young Permanent Secretaries. You had young people representing us everywhere.”Opposition LeaderBharrat Jagdeo“It’s the same with the party leadership now. If you look at it, it’s a combination of young people and older people. Look at our representation in Parliament. And most importantly, we chose a Presidential Candidate who is now 39 years old. And he came into Government when he was in his 20s. He has experience.”In fact, Jagdeo noted that the People’s Progressive Party’s (PPP) Presidential Candidate, Irfaan Ali, has more experience in Government than President Granger himself. And he pointed to the fact that the older generation even dominates the narrative being spun by the A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC).“He [Irfaan Ali] has experience, unlike President Granger himself. He [David Granger] didn’t have governmental experience when he came into office. And so this is why they are lost, visionless, floundering at sea. So to us, young people are important, not just for sports or culture,” he said.President David Granger’s original Cabinet“You cannot be burdened by the past generation. Every time you open the papers, it’s Lincoln Lewis, people who are in their 60s, 70s already, trying to define our future. Where are the young people? We want to get past all this stuff. The young people of this country want to move forward.”Jagdeo noted that under the coalition Government, housing has slowed and jobs have dried up. These things, he said, are issues that youths care about. It was earlier this year that Minister of Social Cohesion, Dr George Norton had revealed that youth unemployment was at 40 per cent.PPP/C Presidential Candidate, Dr Irfaan AliIn April of this year, hundreds of young people who were unemployed had crowded the National Sports Hall, Homestretch Avenue, Georgetown, where the Department of Youth held its first job fair to address the scourge of unemployment.Senior Research, Planning and Development Officer within the Department, Adeti De Jesus told Guyana Times that the unemployed youths turned up to the Sports Hall before 07:00h to be interviewed.According to her, when the officials arrived to open the doors, youths were already lined up outside. In fact, youths who had become desperate for employment after being at home for a number of years took the opportunity to apply online for the job fair prior to Friday’s event.Some 701 online applications were received, De Jesus said, while other youths showed up to the event without being registered. Those persons were referred to the Central Recruitment and Manpower Agency where they were interviewed for future employment.
Frank Lampard could return for Manchester City’s visit to West Ham on Saturday.The 36-year-old missed the Champions League trip to CSKA Moscow on Tuesday night after suffering a thigh muscle injury in last weekend’s Premier League victory over Tottenham.But Manuel Pellegrini has not ruled out the midfielder making an appearance against the Hammers, although he is understood to have only an outside chance of being fit for the clash with his former club.Meanwhile, it has emerged that City’s new state-of-the-art training centre could be used by Lampard’s club New York City FC for a pre-season camp in January.That could benefit City by allowing the midfielder to extend his loan spell at the Etihad deeper in to the new year than was first envisaged.The new MLS franchise is part-owned by City’s owner Sheikh Mansour and the new Etihad Campus in Manchester, built at a cost of £200million, is one of a number of options for New York City as a base for pre-season training.Sources say that Lampard’s loan spell will play no part in any decision of the venue for the training camp, however.Lampard was voted City’s player of the month for September by fans and has scored a number of important goals for the club, including a dramatic equaliser against his old club Chelsea.He also won a penalty against Tottenham last weekend before limping out of the game.City boss Manuel Pellegrini said last week he was not surprised by how well Lampard has been performing.“For me it is maybe not a surprise because I know his quality,” said the City manager.“When you are the age of Frank Lampard you are not able to play three games in a week but when you have so great a player, you can resolve a lot of problems that we have during the game and I think that Frank is doing these duties at this moment. I am very happy with him.” Frank Lampard 1