Ambassador Pacifici: A Truly Distinctive Mark

first_imgLiberia has been extremely fortunate to have Ambassador Atilio Pacifici serve as the European Union envoy for the past five years.  This was a critical period for a country just emerging from a terrible civil conflict that not only killed nearly 300,000 people, but devastated the country’s infrastructure and shattered her  international relations. One of the effects of this was the fact that many of the country’s traditional partners closed their embassies near Monrovia.  This included our oldest diplomatic partner, the United Kingdom, the first nation, as far back as 1848, to establish diplomatic relations with Liberia.  The next oldest diplomatic partner, Germany, scaled down its mission, and turned over its plush compound in Congotown to the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL).  The European Union, too, scaled down its operations here and Liberia lost her ownership of the National Authorizing Office (NAO), which was transferred to La Cote d’Ivoire.  It was that country which was performing the duties of the NAO for Liberia, in managing the European Development Fund allocation for the country, since the NAO powers had been revoked.  In addition, several other embassies relocated to other parts of West Africa, plunging Liberians into the painful, humiliating and costly experience of having to travel to other West African countries to obtain visas to enter Europe.   Things began to change with the arrival of Ambassador Pacifici in 2009.  Before she performed the Investiture upon the EU envoy last Thursday, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf said that his arrival five years ago coincided with the coming into force of the Lisbon Treaty that saw the EU Office transformed into a full-fledged EU Delegation to Liberia.  “Our partnership,” she said, “went from humanitarian assistance to development cooperation.” It was also during his tenure that the Liberia-EU dialogue and many other initiatives were realized,” President Sirleaf added.Speaking on that occasion also, Liberia’s Finance and Development Planning Minister Amara Konneh said Ambassador Pacifici, soon after his arrival in Liberia, began supporting us in “the rebuilding of a credible and competent NAO.  For this reason, said Minister Konneh, “we can now look forward to the next envelope of EUR 279 million in EU support,” from 2005-2020.  This, according to the Minister, “represents a 73% increase in the EDF allocation for Liberia.”Describing Ambassador Pacifici as “not just a partner, but a dependable friend and a true advocate for Liberia, Minister Konneh noted that during Pacifici’s tenure, the country witnessed a gradual increase in direct budget support amounting to EUR40 million and, just for the health sector, EUR35 million.  He also assisted in reestablishing the flow of Liberian forestry and other projects to Europe, which had been cancelled during the Taylor years when Liberia’s resources were terribly managed.When Ebola hit Liberia, “the Ambassador responded quickly,” said Konneh.  “He advocated strongly with the EU Headquarters for increased budget support for Liberia.”  The result: US$35 million into GOL’s budget since Ebola.Ambassador Pacifici took an active interest in the improvement of West Point, Monrovia’s sprawling slum.  Not only did he initiate a water project in the township.  He also took an interest in the project for the building of a modern Town Hall initiated by Daily Observer publisher Kenneth Y. Best on the occasion of his 75th birth anniversary.  At the groundbreaking ceremony for the project Ambassador Pacifici pledged that the EU Delegation would do everything possible to ensure its realization.Not many diplomats are able to leave so distinctive a mark after serving at a post as has Ambassador Pacifici.  The President said he had approached his work with the passion and precision of the engineer that he is.Yes, we can say that this Ambassador was able to accomplish what he did because he undertook his work with engineering discipline.  We are sure that wherever he is assigned in the future, he will leave another mark of distinction.Our hope is that we in Liberia will make the best possible use of what Ambassador Pacifici has left us.  Should we do this with all the assistance we are given by other development partners and with our own self-generated resources, we would be on the march to development and modernization. But OH Liberians!  Given last Friday’s demonstration that sent Monrovia “crazy,” can we ever become a disciplined people?  May God grant.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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New Board for GRA approved – Jordan

first_img…as transferral of several offices planned for 2019A new Board for the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) has been reviewed and approved at the level of Cabinet, even as Government assures the current Board is operating effectively.This is according to Finance Minister Winston Jordan, who was at the time being quizzed by the parliamentary Opposition on various allocations to his Ministry. He noted that approval was granted at the last Cabinet meeting for the Board.“As far as I know, the Board is properly composed and is functioning. In fact, I think two days ago the new Board was discussed at Cabinet and approved,” Jordan stated, in response to questions from the Opposition.While the Board has been approved, it is unclear who will comprise the new Board. Efforts by Guyana Times to contact senior officials, including Minister of State Joseph Harmon, were futile.Meanwhile, $113.7 million allocated under project code 1202200 also came under scrutiny. When asked by Opposition Member of Parliament Irfaan Ali about this allocation, Jordan noted that the monies are for the construction of an annex on the site of the old Guyana National Cooperative Bank (GNCB) Sports Club.“The awarded cost of this building is $228 million and the difference you see (in the estimates) has to do with the generator for the main office, including the purchase and associated electrical works.”“The existing headquarters of the Ministry of Finance has outgrown space (with) the number of activities and staff. So the new building is a three storey building. First of all we will move the valuation division, which you know is in a very decrepit building.”According to Jordan, the current housing of the valuation division has limited its true potential. He said that with the housing of the valuation division in better conditions, they can hopefully recruit better staff.“One floor or part of the floor, we will use for a (document) centre,” Jordan explained. “There is so much documentation at the Ministry of Finance, thrown all over the place. And we’re running out of space. So we’ll attempt to scan and put a modern documentation centre there.”“We’ll move the training room from the head office and put it there and make it a modern training room with modern facilities for better conferencing, which will ease on the trips and the phones. And then of course, it’s important for sports. So we’ll use a small part for a sports club and a little gym, to keep people healthy and promote social cohesion.”It is understood that the new, multimillion-dollar annex will be located at Winter Place and Croal Street, Georgetown. It is understood that Courtney Benn Contracting Service is involved with the project.last_img read more

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