A Liberian-based NGO, Higher Ground International (HGI), working to improve rural communities, has begun the construction of hand pump and sanitation facilities in Arthington, Lower Montserrado County.In an exclusive interview with the Daily Observer on Wednesday, May 21 in Arthington, the founder and chief executive officer of HGI, Madam Henrietta White Holder said that the initiative is meant to restore dignity in the lives of rural community residents.“The projects in Arthington are intended to improve the living conditions of the residents after being affected by the civil crisis in Liberia. This is in fulfillment of a dream that we conceived few years ago while in the United States to come back and help our fellow citizens,” she explained.She said that about 10 communities in Arthington that are lacking safe drinking water and sanitation are expected to benefit.“At the moment, we have constructed hand pumps and toilets in three of the communities and with more funding we intend to expand,” she further said.Madam Holder disclosed that, they are expected to embark on an agricultural program in Arthington, upon the completion of the hand pump and sanitation projects.“We have a 150 acres of land earmarked for crop production to create economic opportunities for many residents in the communities. Farmers will be supported in growing crop to raise income,” she said.She said the agricultural project will initially target more than 100 farmers.According to her the program will seek to create processing facility for crop like cassava, adding that the processing house has already been constructed.Madam Holder, however, mentioned transportation difficulties and funding as some challenges confronting their developmental initiatives.Meanwhile, the HGI founder told our reporter that they intend to launch their developmental activities in Arthington this week.She said the program is expected to bring together government officials and some members of political parties.According to her Peace Ambassador George Weah is expected to launch the program.At the same time, residents of Arthington have described the initiative of HGI as a welcoming development.The Artington residents said that that for a very long time, they have lacked safe drinking water and sanitation.The City Mayor of Arthington, Genius White, who also added his impression on the HGI’ initiatives said that the development was timely.“The residents of our city do not have access to safe drinking water. Many times, we drink from the creek which is not safe. Therefore, we are very thankful for the undertaken of the HGI,” he told this paper in his office on Wednesday.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)
Forensic AuditsThe plethora of forensic audits that had been ordered by Head of State, President David Granger, has claimed its first victim, Nizam Hassan, former General Manager of the Guyana Marketing Corporation (GMC) who was on Monday slapped with fraud-related charges, He appeared before Chief Magistrate Ann McLennan in the Georgetown Magistrates’ Courts.Former General Manager of the Guyana Marketing Corporation (GMC), Nizam Hassan and co-accused Felicia De’Souza-Madramootoo were on Monday slapped with fraud related charges when he appeared before Chief Magistrate Ann McLennan in the Georgetown Magistrates’ CourtsHassan, who currently holds the portfolio of General Manager of the Guyana Rice Development Board, and a female co-accused, Felicia De’Souza-Madramootoo, 34, were on Monday charged in what has been described as a multimillion-dollar fraud.The woman’s husband Hanniel Madramootoo, a project engineer within the Agriculture Ministry, his brother Philip and friend Nizam Ramkisson both Directors of Constantine Engineering and Construction Limited of Trinidad and Tobago were also jointly charged.Only Hassan and the female co-conspirator appeared in court and arrest warrants have since been issued for the others who are said to currently be in Trinidad and TobagoHassan and De’Souza-Madramootoo were charged with intent to defraud together with three others by continuously approving payments for substandard and faulty works during the rehabilitation of the Guyana Marketing Corporation building at Robb and Alexander Streets, Georgetown.Hassan and his co-accused were not required to plead to the indictable charge but were released on $250,000 bail each, and have been ordered to report at the headquarters of the Special Organised Crime Unit every Friday.The matter has been adjourned until December 7.During the course of the audit into the operations of New GMC it was found that based on the selection of three vouchers related to the construction of the GMC’s office building for testing, it was observed that incorrect building materials were used.Additional auditing procedures were deemed necessary and a request was made to have all payment vouchers made available for further testing.The Auditors said it was communicated by Owen Nestor, GMC’s accountant, that none of the other payment vouchers related to the construction of the GMC’s office building could be found.It was also communicated by Nestor that Hassan may have been the last person who had requested all of the payment vouchers of the construction. The Auditors had recommended that a determination needs to be made as to what level of disciplinary actions should be taken and that the board of directors should instruct GMC’s management to make every effort to locate the missing vouchers.The auditor in reporting on his findings to the Ministry of Finance had complained that the process was “deliberately frustrated by the non-response and non-commitment extended by Mr Nizam Hassan, GMC’s General Manager and the lack of commitment by GMC’s Accounting department’s staff.”It was found that many vouchers and back-ups were not provided, either on a timely basis or not at all: “My conclusion is that the accounting practice at GMC shows that the General Manager and the Accountant did not provide any meaningful fiduciary responsibility when any payment originated from the Minister of Agriculture or the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Agriculture.”“In other words, GMC’s General Manager and the Accountant acted more like rubber stamps when payments dealt with transactions originating from the Ministry of Agriculture,” the Auditor declared.