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Legislature to ‘Investigate Self’

first_imgThe National Legislature, comprising the Senate and the House of Representatives has expressed disappointment and detestation against President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, and said it has observed that the Executive has failed to observe the principle of coordination consistent with the Constitution and the rules of the Legislature.In a joint statement by both Houses yesterday evening, President Pro Tempore Armah Z. Jallah said the Legislature has urged the President to instruct the Special Task Force, headed by Cllr. Fonati Koffa, to cease attacking the person and property of any present or former member of the Legislature.The statement was issued in the office of the President Pro Tempore with attendance of scores of Senators and Representatives.Pro Tempore Jallah said the Legislature has resolved to establish a joint committee of both the Honorable House and the Honorable Senate to thoroughly investigate this matter, commencing with a Public Hearing, and a subsequent public debate before an ultimate decision by theLegislature is made. The press statement, which was signed by Pro Tempore Jallah and House Speaker J. Alex Tyler, Sr., said they “are aware that search and seizure writs were issued against the home of Senator Varney Sherman and it was widely reported that the Senator’s home was put under siege by security forces on May 23, 2016; and that there are further attempts to go after other Legislators in like manner.”“The Legislature has seized itself of this matter for several reasons and has appointed a joint committee of both the Honorable House and the Honorable Senate.“What prompted the Legislature to seize itself of this matter is that the Executive has failed to observe the principle of coordination consistent with the Constitution and the rules of both Houses of the Legislature,” the statement said. The statement added: “It has also come to the attention of the Legislature as alleged in the Global Witness report that laws were changed in 2010 to give Sable Mining favorable treatment to enable it secure Wologizi outside of competitive bidding. The joint committee of the legislature will investigate this allegation as the legislature is the branch of government constitutionally charged to make laws.” “There are several other issues which warrant the attention of the Legislature which will be exhaustively covered during the public hearing and the Legislative debate. The Legislature therefore calls on the President to instruct the Special Task Force to cease attacking the person and property of any present or former member of the Legislature while the Joint Committee carries out the investigation.”The President Pro Tempore has also said the names of the members of the Joint Committee of the Legislature to investigate the Global Witness report will be announced to the public not later than May 26, tomorrow. “The Joint Committee will also be charged with the responsibility to establish whether or not the Executive exceeded its constitutional mandate through its recent actions,” Sen. Jallah said.Senate’s DecisionMeanwhile, the Senate has summoned Cllr. Fonati Koffa, the head of the Special President Task Force, the Acting Justice Minister, Cllr. Frederick Cherue, as well as the Chairman of the Liberia Anti Corruption Commission (LACC), Cllr. James Verdier. The trio are expected to appear before the Senate’s Plenary today (Wednesday, May 25,) in a Special Session in their Chamber, at 11:00am.The invitees are expected to explain why was the residence of Grand Cape Mount County Sen. Varney Sherman besieged by officers of the Liberia National Police and staff of the LACC.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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NIS investment portfolio must be revised – chair

first_img…says Finance Ministry input, multistakeholder effort neededFinance Minister Winston Jordan had challenged the National Insurance Scheme (NIS) to make changes to its investment structure for better results. However, according to the entity itself, the Finance Ministry has a responsibility to lead the way in revising key guidelines in the insurance scheme.NIS Chairman, Dr Surendra PersaudIn a recent interview with Guyana Times, NIS Chairman, Dr Surendra Persaud acknowledged the need for a revamp of NIS’ investment portfolio. He explained that his Board, which includes big names in the Private Sector and the unions, has been looking into the matter.“The Board has been continuously looking at how the investment portfolio is handled,” Persaud explained. “There exists a document called the prudential framework, which is a guideline on how the NIS fund is to be invested. When we met at the NIS, the current investment was not consistent with that framework.”“So step one was to try to bring it in line. Step two is to then look at new and novel ways and the Board has been looking at all of this. We (were) waiting on the actuarial report to offer some recommendations and other suggestions. There is a need to revise it and it’s a continuous project. But no firm decisions have been made. The first step is to realign the fund with the prudential framework.”Persaud explained to this publication that the framework speaks to what percentage of NIS funds can be placed in a single investment, domestic or foreign. He related that this also speaks to what percentage can be used for short, medium and long-term investing.“That document is quite old and that document will likely have to be revised. That is going to be a significant multistakeholder effort. That is something the Ministry of Finance will possibly have to take on as opposed to the NIS. It requires a skillset in finance.”“That’s an investment decision. The Ministry of Finance is the responsible Ministry over the National Insurance Scheme. So anytime you change that, they would have to approve the process.”InvestmentsThe NIS has a number of investments. But speaking at the insurance scheme’s 49th anniversary, General Manager Holly Greaves, had informed the gathering that the scheme is grappling with low returns on its investments.“The scheme continues to be faced with low interest rates and no interest from some of its non-performing investments. Nevertheless, investment income will be boosted from a Government guaranteed investment in NICIL earning interest of 4.5 per cent over the next five years (GuySuCo) bond. In addition to this, we have so far received $774 million in interest and capital from the Government Debenture which was set up to repay the CLICO investment.”This is coupled with decreased payments from contributors. NIS Finance Controller Jacqueline Scotland, who, along with other senior officers appeared before the Parliamentary Sectoral Committee on Social Services in August of this year, had revealed that NIS stood to lose $414 million in earnings this year owing to a combination of factors.Scotland disclosed that the Scheme’s current fund stood at $31.9 billion as at June 30, 2018. It was also noted that the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo) is one of the largest defaulters, owing in excess of $1.5 billion to NIS.At the time, Greaves told the committee that the sugar company had paid off the debt, except for $250 million in accumulated interest on the outstanding amount. Greaves said the Scheme planned to take legal action against GuySuCo to recover the money and had served a demand notice.NIS has implemented a debt management section to pursue persons who owe the Scheme. But, even with this new system, there are fears about continued slippage of contributions, as against the payment of benefits. This year, NIS is expected to pay out $23.6 billion, with contributions projected to reach $23.2 billion.With the closure of the Skeldon, Rose Hall, Wales and East Demerara factories, which saw close to 5000 workers being fired, NIS is staring down the barrel of a significant loss of revenue from declining contributions and increased pay outs.last_img read more