In the latest reshuffle of her administration, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has named new ministers of Foreign Affairs, Internal Affairs and Information, among several other appointees. According to a press release from the Executive Mansion, the President has named Marjon Kamara, Liberia’s permanent representative to the United Nations, as Liberia’s new Minister of Foreign Affairs, while J. Wesley Washington becomes Assistant Minister for Public Affairs, at Ministry of Foreign Affairs.If confirmed by the Senate, Kamara will be Liberia’s second female Foreign Minister, after Olubanke King Akerele. In the late 1970s, Kamara worked with the late Foreign Minister C. Cecil Dennis, who succeeded Rochforte L. Weeks, President Tolbert’s first foreign Minister in 1972. Dennis served as Foreign Minister until the Tolbert administration was overthrown and many of its officials, including Dennis, executed on firing squad on April 22, 1980. Shortly after that, Marjon Kamra was employed by the United Nations and served for some time at the UN offices in Geneva, Switzerland. She was later appointed permanent delegate to the UN by President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. As Foreign Minister, she succeeds Augustine Ngafuan who resigned a few months ago. An ambassador is not higher than a foreign minister, because all ambassadors report to the foreign minister. We recall that President William V. S. Tubman appointed former President Charles D. B. King as Liberia’s first ambassador to Washington in the late 1940s. In 1952, President Tubman also appointed his former vice president, Clarence Lorenzo Simpson, as ambassador to Washington. In the mid 1950s, President Tubman appointed outgoing education secretary Ernest Jerome Yancy as ambassador to Israel. George Wallace, who served as President Sirleaf’s first Foreign Minister, was later appointed Ambassador-at-Large, and Nathaniel Barnes, who served in the Taylor administration as Minister of Finance, was appointed by President Sirleaf, first as permanent delegate to the United Nations, and later as Ambassador to Washington. President Sirleaf also appointed her controversial Minister of Information, Lewis G. Brown, to the post of Ambassador, the release said, though it did not disclose the specifics of Brown’s ambassadorship. Brown has been a tough-talking Information Minister who is noted for vehemently defending positions of President Sirleaf’s administration, even if it meant raising the ire of the Legislature. In one instance, the Legislature demanded that he go back to class to learn how to do his job. He is also on record for encouraging Liberians to take ownership of their country in the government’s campaign to change Liberians’ perception about political events in the country.Also involved in the reshuffle is Youth & Sports Minister Eugene Nagbe, who now succeeds Brown as Minister of Information, Cultural Affairs and Tourism. Mr. Saah N’Tow succeeds Nagbe as Minister of Youth and Sports.For the post of Minister of Internal Affairs, President Sirleaf appointed Dr. Henrique Tokpah to succeed her long time good friend, Morris Dukuly, who she sacked after he told the National Legislature to send her proposed Land Act “back to where it came from” until consultations were properly conducted.President Sirleaf also appointed Adolpus Wade, Tonia Wiles, Wilfred Gray Johnson, and Reverend Bartholomew Colley, Commissioners at the Independent National Commission on Human Rights.Joseph Howe is now the Assistant Minister for Energy at the Ministry of Lands, Mines and Energy, while Boakai Kanneh becomes a Member of the Law Reform Commission. To the Board of Commissioners, Public Procurement and Concessions Commission, the President tapped Willie Belleh, Chairman, and former Maryland County Senator John Ballout, Member, replacing Mr. Catakaw.Kansualism B. Kansua, is the new Assistant Minister for Road and Rail, Ministry of Transport, while Edsel Smith, was named Assistant Minister for Construction, Ministry of Public Works.The rest are Abu Kamara, Assistant Minister for Administration, Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications; Rose Stryker, who once served as deputy police director, is now Assistant Director, Executive Protective Services (EPS), and Edwin Walker, Notary Public, Montserrado County.The appointments are subject to confirmation by the Senate where applicable, the release said.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)
…imprisonment, fines for unlicensed service providersBy Jarryl BryanWith a view of ending the opportunities for bandits to prey on bank customers leaving financial institutions, Government at the last sitting of the National Assembly brought a draft National Payments System Bill to the floor for its first reading.The Bill, in fact, contains provisions for persons to use “electronic money” through SIM cards and software accepted as a means of payment. There are also provisions for presenting cheques in electronic form.There are also penalties, which range from a fine of $500,000 and two years’ imprisonment if convicted as an individual, to a $2 million fine as a body corporate. Part 12, Section 51 speaks to various offences and penalties designed to keep the payment system running smoothly.A model of how the system would workThe penalties apply to Sections seven and eight (attaining a licence before providing payment system or service). The Act states that banks, as direct participants in the system, do not have to acquire a licence. The same applies for money transfer service providers. However, section three (a) adds that they must comply with all other requirements of the Act.The penalties also apply to Section 13, which prohibits transferring licences, as well as Section 23, which mandates compliance with the Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) laws.In Section 32, operators are also prohibited from outsourcing its services without the bank’s approval. In Section 33, they also have to seek approval in order to use agents. And then there are those who refuse to comply with any order issued by the Bank of Guyana as an administrative measure.According to Section 50 (4), “a person who fails to comply with an order issued, pay a fine imposed or otherwise comply with administrative measures taken by the bank in accordance with this section commits an offence and is liable on summary conviction as specified in Section 51.”StrategyA National Payment System (NPS) is an infrastructure that provides the economy with the channels or circuits for processing the payments resulting from the many different types economic transactions that take place daily.The Bank of Guyana (BoG) was tasked with leading the development and implementation of a strategic approach to advance the development of Guyana’s NPS, by establishing the parameters to guide policy and set priorities.After widespread consultations with stakeholders, Central Bank, with assistance from the World Bank, last year commenced putting together a four-year comprehensive plan that would see the strategic transformation of the local payment system from paper-based mechanisms to electronic payments.The National Payment System Strategy (2017-2021) was handed over to Government last month. This is a developmental plan that envisions a “robust, sound, efficient and inclusive National Payment System (NPS) that meets the current and future needs of the economy, support financial activity and financial sector development, advances the use of electronic payments, contributes to financial risk mitigation, achieves compatibility with international systems, and adheres to the relevant international standards, guidelines and codes.”The 59-page strategy and action plan is centred around nine pillars of a conceptual framework developed by the Work Bank on National Payment System. These include: legal framework, large value payments, retail payments, Government transactions, securities depository, clearing and settlement, money markets, international remittances, oversight and cooperation.It is understood that this strategy will aim to establish legal clarity and certainty to cover several areas, such as electronic funds transfer, e-money and cheque truncation. Additionally, steps will be made towards enhancing the efficiency of payment processing and the reduction of settlement times for both retail and large value transactions.The strengthening of risk management and mitigation across the national payments system and the expansion of the accessibility of electronic payment access networks will also be under focus.One of the stated goals was for Central Bank to seek to attract higher rates of electronic payment acceptance by vendors, merchants and other providers of goods and services, as well as advance the migration of Government to electronic payments for both the collection and disbursement of funds. Another goal is driving down remittance costs.Back in 2016, Governor of the Bank of Guyana, Dr Gobind Ganga, had announced that Guyana could be saving as much as $6 million annually with a modernised payment system that makes optimum use of electronic payments.