Senate To Probe Protestors’ Concerns

first_imgIn 2017 the business advocacy group Patriotic Entrepreneurs of Liberia (PATEL) staged a protest against government policies which they said were strangulating Liberian businesses. The Capitol Building office of the Legislature was yesterday a scene of protest when hundreds of protesting marketers, under the leadership of the “Patriotic Entrepreneurs of Liberia Incorporated” (PATEL), stormed the area with multiple concerns, including the demand to reduce the surging exchange rate between the United States dollar and the Liberian dollar.However, the situation came under control when the leadership of the Senate promised to set up a special team to receive the petition the protesters presented to that august body. The Senators, led by Pro Tempore Armah Jallah, also informed the protesters about their next course of action in the coming days relative to the rising foreign exchange rate. The Pro Temp told the protesters that the Senate will work along with the House of Representatives and the outcome of their action will be submitted to President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf for prompt action. “Our decision will be known within 24 hours,” Senator Jallah said as the Senate adjourned with Senators George Weah, Geraldine Doe-Sherif, Gbleh-Boh Brown, Dallas Gueh, Thomas Grupee and Morris Saytumah in attendance for the 7th day sitting.Weah wants tax returnsIn remarks, Senator George Weah promised that a government under his leadership would introduce tax returns as a means of encouraging tax payers to pay their taxes willingly and on time, adding, “If I ever have the chance to be president of this country, if you pay tax you must have tax returns.”The United States of America is one of few western democracies that practices tax returns, and if elected president, Weah said he will be the first Liberian leader to follow the footsteps of Liberia’s traditional friend. He expressed the hope that government will start to put mechanisms into place that will ensure that tax payers benefit from tax returns at the end of a tax year, otherwise they will have to introduce low taxes.“As someone who the people look up to in a situation as such, I will continue to work with my colleagues to ensure that the voices of our ordinary citizens and members of the business community are heard, so that what we are experiencing today will not be repeated. “Weah spoke to journalists in the corridor of the Senate minutes after the protesters submitted their petition to the Legislature. The petition was presented by the leadership of PATEL. Members of the group were protesting against high inflation and taxes levied on certain commodities that are required by government to be paid in US dollars. They called for a complete shutdown of all businesses in the country for three days, which came into effect yesterday, Tuesday. Business centers including major supermarkets as well as wholesale and retail stores and entertainment centers remained closed for the day. But Senator Weah, who is also the standard bearer of the Coalition of Democratic Change (CDC), recalled how three years ago, he told a journalist in an interview that if he becomes president of Liberia, “the first thing I will do is lower taxes so that it could attract business people to come to this country; lots of journalists then thought I did not know what I was saying, but again, if you think about what is going on, you will say ‘Mr. Weah was right.’”The former world football icon, who is one of two Senators representing Liberia at the ECOWAS Parliament in Abuja, Nigeria, emphasized the need for people to pay taxes, but pressed that taxes should be lowered to enable especially petty traders to sell their wares, adding: “as such, we will have a win-win situation. But if the taxes are high they will face problem.”On the question if he voted to amend the revenue code and increase tariff, Weah said: “I never voted, I am on record; but I stand that taxes must be low and that is the point I am trying to make. The best thing to do whenever this kind of situation arises, we cut overhead, go back to the drawing board and try to satisfy the consumers. You cannot pay heavy tax and cannot even realize profit.” He maintained that the people who gathered at the grounds of the Capitol Building yesterday have the right to let the Legislators know that they are not happy.Meanwhile, this reporter toured central Monrovia and the commercial district of Waterside, and observed that indeed the call to shutdown businesses was well heeded as restaurants and supermarkets remained closed, while gas stations, banks and some pharmacies were open for business.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

Sudan’s ‘sister coach’ takes love of football to field

first_img0Shares0000Salma al-Majidi has been acknowledged by FIFA as the first Arab and Sudanese woman to coach a men’s football team in the Arab world © AFP / ASHRAF SHAZLYGADAREF, Sudan, Apr 3 – In Sudan, where a women’s national football team remains a distant dream, Salma al-Majidi knew the only way to take part in her beloved sport was to coach… and that the players had to be men.Majidi, 27, acknowledged by FIFA as the first Arab and Sudanese woman to coach a men’s football team in the Arab world, is a pioneer in a sport that dominates the region. “Why football? Because it is my first and ultimate love,” said Majidi, clad in sports gear and a black headscarf, as she led players of the Al-Ahly Al-Gadaref club at a practice session in the town of Gadaref, east of Khartoum.“I became a coach because there is still no scope for women’s football in Sudan,” said Majidi, who is affectionately called “sister coach” by her team.Daughter of a retired policeman, Majidi was 16 when she fell in love with football.It came about as she watched her younger brother’s school team being coached. She was captivated by the coach’s instructions, his moves, and how he placed the marker cones at practice sessions.“At the end of every training session, I discussed with him the techniques he used to coach the boys,” Majidi told AFP, as she watched her own players practising on a hot day at a dusty ground in Gadaref.“He saw I had a knack for coaching… and gave me a chance to work with him.”Soon Majidi was coaching the under-13 and under-16 teams of Al-Hilal club in Omdurman, the twin city of Khartoum on the west bank of the River Nile.– Limits on women players –Questions like whether she understood football or had the skills to coach men were all put to rest over time, said Majidi, speaking in a soft but confident tone.Named in the BBC’s 2015 list of “100 inspirational women”, Majidi has coached the Sudanese second league men’s clubs of Al-Nasr, Al-Nahda, Nile Halfa and Al-Mourada.Majidi says she became a coach “because there is still no scope for women’s football in Sudan” © AFP / ASHRAF SHAZLYNile Halfa and Al-Nahda even topped local leagues under her coaching. She currently holds the African “B” badge in coaching, meaning she can coach any first league team across the continent.The only other woman to have gained recognition in Sudan’s footballing world was Mounira Ramadan, who refereed men’s matches in the 1970s.Sudan joined FIFA in 1948 and established the Confederation of African Football (CAF) along with Egypt, Ethiopia and South Africa. It won the CAF trophy in 1970.Women’s football has faced an uphill task since the country adopted Islamic sharia law in 1983, six years after which President Omar al-Bashir seized power in an Islamist-backed coup.There is no legal ban on women’s football in Sudan, but a conservative society coupled with the Islamist leanings of the government have left it in the shadows.Women do play football but there are no competitions or women’s clubs, and they do not play much in public.“There are restrictions on women’s football, but I’m determined to succeed,” Majidi, whose dream is to coach an international team, said, as her players kicked up clouds of dust practising free kicks.– ‘Kids of Salma’ –Majidi’s journey has not been easy.“Sudan is a community of tribes and some tribes believe that a woman’s role is confined only to her home,” said Majidi, a university graduate in accounts and management.Questions like whether she understood football or had the skills to coach men were all put to rest over time, Majidi says © AFP / ASHRAF SHAZLY“There was this one boy who refused to listen. He told me he belongs to a tribe that believed men should never take orders from women,” she said.It took months before he finally accepted her as coach. “Today, he is a fine player,” said Majidi, who works full-time and receives a salary that is equivalent to that of a male coach.At first, “people in the streets used to call us ‘Salma’s kids!’” said Majid Ahmed, a striker and an ardent fan of Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi.“In school we have female teachers, so what’s the problem having a female coach?”Majidi said her entrance to what was a male preserve is just a start.“My message to men in general is to give women a chance to do what they want,” she said as she prepared tea after a gruelling practice session.– ‘She was different’ –Coming from a traditional family, it was a challenge for Majidi to prove herself to their relatives, recalls her father, Mohamed al-Majidi.Majidi says her entrance to what was a male preserve is just a start: “My message to men in general is to give women a chance to do what they want” © AFP / ASHRAF SHAZLY“Then one day, her uncle who used to criticise her saw crowds shouting ‘Salma! Salma!’ during a match,” he told AFP at the family’s mud-and-brick home in Omdurman.“These same relatives now pray to Allah to support her.”From early on, Majidi’s mother knew her daughter was different.“She always preferred wearing trousers… And even when crossing the street, she would watch the boys playing football,” said Aisha al-Sharif.0Shares0000(Visited 1 times, 1 visits today)last_img read more