Three major committees of the Senate have made several recommendations to plenary on the state of affairs at the National Oil Company of Liberia (NOCAL), among them, appropriate action against all employees, senior management and Board members who have betrayed the public trust.The recommendations were contained in a report dated August 17, and was submitted to plenary yesterday by the Committees on Lands, Mines, Energy, Natural Resources and Environment; Committee on Public Corporations, and the Committee on Ways, Means, Finance and Budget.In their 12-page report, the committees, among other things, recommended that appropriate action be taken against all employees, senior management and Board members who have betrayed the public trust; but however, recommended that all those who have been severed receive their just benefits in accordance with the Law of Liberia.The report comes in the wake of mounting concerns that the company is facing financial difficulties, and that some of the major oil companies were pulling out of petroleum acreages.At the same time, the committees are recommending that the General Auditing Commission (GAC) conduct a forensic auditing of NOCAL for unaudited periods.Considering that Liberia is still a frontier area in terms of oil exploration, the committees recommended the development of an aggressive program, both to retain companies in the program and to attract others in the face of competition from other countries some of whom have found or are producing oil.In view of this, the committees are suggesting that the current management structure of NOCAL be reviewed, eliminating the many vice presidents and other senior management position. They further recommend that the total employment level of NOCAL be reduced significantly to the bare bone minimum, and that priority for retained employees should be given to technical fields such as geology and engineering, since they are the most needed at this stage of the oil program.The committees outlined several cardinal factors they believe are responsible for NOCAL’s current predicament, among them a huge payroll to accommodate an-over-bloated staff and a plethora of vice presidents and other senior management positions, coupled with an unrealistic corporate social responsibility program.Other areas reported on in the committees’ document showed that NOCAL was carrying on “an overly ambitious local and foreign scholarship program without due attention to priorities as a frontier country; very expensive, very frequent and often very unnecessary foreign travels, donations in millions of US Dollars to government agencies for extra-budgetary expenditure, and general spending spree as if Liberia were an oil-producing country.”The report revealed that the companies which pulled out of their petroleum acreages generally completed their work programs without finding oil, and said the drop in the price of oil also served as a disincentive for the companies to remain in Liberia due to competing demands on their global operational and exploration budgets. “An aggressive and innovative strategy is required to keep the Liberian oil program active,” the committees concluded.In the debate that followed after the presentation, several Senators agreed that NOCAL be audited, especially from the stage when oil blocks were awarded to companies.However, a greater number of Senators refused to buy the recommendations that severance payments be made to individuals considered for such, and that the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning assists NOCAL financially when such demand is made.Others argued that some of those receiving severance benefits were the same ones who led the company to its downfall, and that it would make no sense paying for their administrative ineptitude.Several recommendations were then made and plenary voted to send the report back to the committees for a final report, and that the report be submitted to the leadership of the senate for onward submission to the Executive for action. Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)
Scheduled to run until January 21 next year, the meetings will serve to heighten public awareness of the initiative, which is a new assessment of students at the primary level that will replace the Grade Six Achievement Test (GSAT). Story Highlights Beginning November 13, the Government will convene town hall meetings across the island in preparation for the roll-out of the Primary Exit Profile (PEP) in 2019. PEP, which will consist of three key components – a Performance Task, an Ability Test and a Curriculum-based Test – is designed to provide a profile of where the student is academically, the student’s strengths and weaknesses, and his or her readiness for grade seven. Beginning November 13, the Government will convene town hall meetings across the island in preparation for the roll-out of the Primary Exit Profile (PEP) in 2019.Scheduled to run until January 21 next year, the meetings will serve to heighten public awareness of the initiative, which is a new assessment of students at the primary level that will replace the Grade Six Achievement Test (GSAT).This was noted by Minister of Education, Youth and Information, Senator the Hon. Ruel Reid, at a post-Cabinet media briefing at Jamaica House on November 1.He pointed out that this is one of several pre-administrative activities to prepare students, teachers and parents, to allow for a smooth implementation of the programme.Senator Reid told JIS News that the venues for the meetings are currently being finalised and that further details will be provided shortly.PEP, which will consist of three key components – a Performance Task, an Ability Test and a Curriculum-based Test – is designed to provide a profile of where the student is academically, the student’s strengths and weaknesses, and his or her readiness for grade seven.The Minister informed that PEP assessment coordinators are already being sensitised, with their one-week training coming to an end today (November 1).In addition, leading up to the implementation period, teachers of the targeted cohort are also scheduled to be trained on assessing the 21st century learner, interpreting and scoring rubric, and administering the performance task.Other preparation activities include cognitive labs and small-scale trials, and national pilots of Performance Tasks for grades four and five.In the meantime, Minister Reid explained that PEP will be implemented on a phased basis, noting that students who are currently in grade five will be the first PEP cohort.He noted that PEP will assess students’ knowledge in addition to placing increased emphasis on assessing students’ skills of communication, critical thinking and creativity.“As the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information seeks to have students staying in school longer (up to grade 13), the provisions of PEP is a forward-thinking approach that will make students better prepared for the workforce. Students will, therefore, be exposed from an early age to critical thinking,” he said.He said the ultimate goal of this new assessment is that all students will graduate with the equivalent of an associate degree at the end of grade 13.“PEP’s assessment process will measure students’ performance through demonstration of 21st century skills aligned to the National Standards Curriculum, and generate an academic profile of each student,” the Minister added.
VANCOUVER – A former Liberal cabinet minister in British Columbia says he’s been mulling over his poverty reduction plan that was rejected by the party he once sought to lead.George Abbott said the Liberals suddenly came up with their own plan in a throne speech last week but only as a strategic political move to win votes.The throne speech came after the New Democrats and the Green party developed a plan to topple the Liberal party, which was defeated in a non-confidence vote in the legislature on Thursday after 16 years in power.“I don’t think the Liberals made it any easier for themselves with the machinations around the throne speech,” Abbott said Friday. “If the aim was strategically to win the confidence of the Greens or perhaps random NDP members, it was entirely unsuccessful.”Premier Christy Clark promised policies to reduce poverty including $1 billion alone in spending on child care spaces, drawing criticism that the action was more in line with traditional NDP principles following years of cuts. Many of the throne speech promises from the Liberal minority government came from the election platforms the NDP and Greens campaigned on in May.Abbott, who held three cabinet posts as health, education and aboriginal relations minister, left politics before the 2013 election after placing third in a Liberal leadership contest won by Clark two years earlier.He said the poverty reduction plan he proposed during the leadership campaign faced resistance in the Liberal party “for reasons I still really don’t understand.”“I have always thought it made a lot of sense to have some focus on that objective but I wouldn’t have done it because strategically it was the clever thing to do, it was the right thing go do,” he said. “I don’t think that’s a way to make democracy perform as it should.”Promising more social spending during the left-leaning throne speech only meant the Liberals “closed off some of the daylight” between themselves and the NDP, said Abbott, who is no longer a member of the Liberal party.“Strategically, they may think that sets them up well for a near-term election but if there’s not a near-term election, if we’re looking at six months, a year, two years, it is going to be difficult for Ms. Clark, should she retain the leadership, to run again on what they offered up in the throne speech.”Officials with the Liberal party could not be reached for comment but on Thursday, Clark defended the Liberal throne speech, saying the party reacted to what voters expressed in the election campaign.“When we go into political combat we all acknowledge that sometimes we spend so much time fighting with one another in here that it’s hard to listen to what British Columbians want. And the throne speech is an answer to that,” she said in the legislature.“It’s an answer to what voters told us on May 9. It’s an acknowledgment, a sincere acknowledgment, that we didn’t get it right. It is an expression of renewed priorities based on what voters told us.”Abbott said now, the Liberal party is likely clinging to its resource development policies to create some distance between itself and the New Democrats, who are poised to take office.Clark has been a heavy promoter of the Trans Mountain pipeline, liquefied natural gas and the Site C hydroelectric project on the Peace River in northeastern British Columbia.Premier-designate John Horgan has promised to fight expansion of the Alberta-to-B.C. pipeline with every means available, driving a wedge between himself and Alberta Premier Rachel Notley.Hamish Telford, an associate professor of political science at the University of the Fraser Valley, said the Liberals’ throne speech promises were a failed policy gambit.Telford said he predicts some grumbling on the social-policy shift among the Liberal party, which includes some conservative-leaning members previously with the now-defunct Social Credit party.“I think (Clark) heard from the more liberal side, ‘Look, we were too stingy and that’s why we lost the election.’ Now she’s going to hear from the conservative side, saying: ‘We tried to outdo the NDP and failed and now we’re in a place where we’re not comfortable.’ “— Follow @CamilleBains1 on Twitter.
Farm Sanctuary, with co-chairs, Tracey Stewart and Emily Deschanel, will host their annual Gala at the renowned Beverly Wilshire Hotel on November 12th to celebrate 30 years of rescue, education and advocacy for farm animals, the largest population of abused animals on Earth.Farm Sanctuary, with a 26 acre Los Angeles area shelter and sanctuaries in Orland, CA and Watkins Glen, NY, works to educate people nationwide about farm animal abuse and the adverse effects of factory farming on our health and environment. Jon and Tracey Stewart will also be opening a location at their New Jersey farm in Spring 2017.Comedian Kevin Nealon will host the evening, featuring many honorees, including Kat Von D who will receive the “Compassion in Action Award.” Crossroads Restaurant will be presented with the “Inspiration Award,” among other surprises.A favorite charity of celebrities like Martha Stewart, Ryan Gosling, Alec Baldwin, Ellen DeGeneres, and James Franco, as well as Jon Stewart, Farm Sanctuary is expecting a star-studded turnout at their 30th Anniversary Gala. The evening will feature a 100% plant-based dinner with favorites made using Gardein products, live entertainment and a farmer’s market style gift station to encourage guests to cut down on waste and take home the products they will use most.Farm Sanctuary President and Co-Founder Gene Baur, who was recently selected by Oprah Winfrey to be a part of her SuperSoul 100 and who TIME magazine calls “the conscience of the food movement,” is a native Angelino, growing up in the Hollywood Hills. As a nod to his days traveling across the country selling veggie dogs at Grateful Dead concerts, Baur’s original VW Westphalia van will be serving vegan hot dogs at the 30th Gala.“We’re excited to gather fellow advocates and supporters under one roof to celebrate Farm Sanctuary’s accomplishments over the past 30 years. We’re using this special occasion to applaud how far we’ve come, but also to continue our mission of revealing the truth behind factory farming practices, saving animals from abusive conditions, and changing how society views and treats farm animals. With tireless advocates and co-chairs, Tracey Stewart and Emily Deschanel, we are looking forward to raising awareness and further advancing our cause in Los Angeles, country-wide and beyond,” said President and Co-Founder Gene Baur.Tickets go on sale this Thursday, September 29th here.