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

Residents Of Texas Town Feel Helpless After Church Shooting

first_imgTwitter via @Heidistevens13 Shrine to the victims of the Sutherland Springs shooting.Volunteers donated blood at a community hall and others stocked the refrigerator and laid out loaves of bread at a food pantry as the stunned community of Sutherland Springs struggled to recover from the shooting at a Baptist church that left more than two dozen dead.Law enforcement officials reopened the intersection Thursday where the First Baptist Church sits, but black mesh material was tied to the chain-link fence surrounding it. With the church door open, a tall wooden cross could be seen at the altar.Judy and Rod Green, who married at the church 15 years ago, prepared Thursday to open the By His Grace food pantry next door for a weekly Friday morning meal service.A few blocks away, Alice Garcia, a Sutherland Springs native and the president of the unincorporated town’s community association, prepared with her husband, Oscar, the annual Veterans Day memorial on the grounds of the community hall, when the church victims with military backgrounds will receive a full military salute.“Everyone in the community is doing what they can, but honestly everyone feels so helpless,” 20-year-old Karyssa Calbert of neighboring Floresville, Texas, said at the hall.Six months pregnant, Calbert couldn’t donate blood but came to the community hall to offer moral support. “People are donating time, donating money, donating prayers, but it still feels like it’s not enough,” she said.The church will be demolished, the pastor said.LYNDA GONZALEZ / KUT NEWSMona Rodriguez holds her son J. Anthony Hernandez during a candlelight vigil held on Sunday night for the 26 people killed in a shooting at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs.Pastor Frank Pomeroy told leaders of the Southern Baptist Convention earlier this week that it would be too painful to continue using First Baptist Church as a place of worship.Pomeroy discussed the state of the building with the denomination’s top executives, who traveled to the rural community in a show of support, a national Southern Baptist spokesman said.The pastor described the church as “too stark of a reminder” of the massacre, spokesman Sing Oldham said.No final decisions can be made without consulting congregants, but Pomeroy discussed turning the site into a memorial for the dead and putting up a new building on property the church owns, Oldham said.Valeria Villasenor, an assistant to the church, said she and others were trying to figure out a temporary solution “to have our doors open for our congregation,” whether by cleaning up and painting the church’s interior or holding services in a different building.Charlene Uhl, mother of 16-year-old Haley Krueger, who died in the attack, agreed that the church should come down.There should still be a church “but not here,” she said Thursday.Jeannie Brown, visiting from Indiana, stopped at the site with her daughter, who used to live in Sutherland Springs but left decades ago for San Antonio.Asked whether the church should be destroyed, Brown said: “Yes. Who would want to go back in there? But then if it is destroyed, does that mean he (the gunman) won?”Other sites of mass shootings have been torn down, including Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut, where a gunman killed 20 children and six adults in December 2012. A new school was built elsewhere.A one-room Amish schoolhouse near Lancaster, Pennsylvania, was torn down in 2006, 10 days after an assailant took children hostage and shot and killed five girls ages 6 to 13.The previous site of the school is now a pasture. A nearly identical schoolhouse with a security fence was erected nearby and named New Hope School.The father of the Texas church gunman broke the family’s silence and said his relatives are grieving.Michael Kelley spoke to ABC News on Wednesday from his home in New Braunfels, about 35 miles (55 kilometers) north of Sutherland Springs.He said he does not want the “media circus” surrounding the attack by Devin Patrick Kelley to destroy “our lives, our grandchildren’s lives.”The gunman shot and killed 25 people at the church. Authorities have put the official toll at 26, because one of the victims was pregnant.Eleven people injured in the attack remained in hospitals Thursday. Sharelast_img read more