Liberian Economy Shrinks to 0.4%

first_imgIn the face of the ongoing Ebola crisis, the Liberian economy is being dealt huge blows, receding by over 6 percent in less than six months. The gross domestic product (GDP) was projected to have grown by 5.9 percent in the first quarter of 2014, but it is now revised downward to 0.4 percent due to the health crisis in the country. In 2013, projected gross domestic product (GDP) growth was 8.0 percent, but it was later revised downward to 5.9 percent prior to the Ebola outbreak.GDP growth was further projected downward to 2.5 percent after the Ebola outbreak and has now shrunk into negative growth. With the increasing threats the Ebola outbreak poses to the economy, the Liberian Government also revised its draft fiscal budget downward reducing revenue projections from over US$540 million to about US$470 million. This is happening in the face of increasing government spending. The Minister of Finance and Development Planning (MFDP), Mr. Amara M. Konneh told reporters at the Ministry of Information, Cultural Affairs and Tourism (MICAT) regular press briefing yesterday that the economy is undergoing serious stress as a result of the Ebola crisis and the need to intervene in further stabilizing the country’s already fragile economy cannot be overemphasized.“The government is challenged in dealing with deficit financing. We have a very huge task in dealing with deficit financing because we don’t want to sink our country into another huge debt,” said Minister Konneh. With the numbers in fiscal deficit lingering around US$305 million, Konneh declared that the government’s Economic Management Team (EMT) has taken several stringent measures towards ensuring strong fiscal discipline in government to create savings, while it is looking for new external sources of funding mainly grants money, to finance the deficit. “We as a nation and people are going through a very difficult period when our efforts to recover from past trials, consolidate the dividends of peace and build a strong and diverse economy still titter on the brink of instability as a result of the prolonged presence of the EVD on our shores,” he said. This massive decline in economic activities can be attributed, in part, to external factors, as the country’s chief export commodity rubber price dipped by 41.2 percent per ton on the world market. Rubber price on the world market has reduced from US$126.8 per ton in 2013 to US$74.6 per ton as of September 2014.  This decline is further exacerbated by a 39.2 percent decline in the price of iron ore from US$135.4 per metric ton in 2013 to US$82.3 per metric ton as of September 2014. Minister Konneh explained that the declines in the prices of the country’s chief export commodities is a consequence of the economic slowdown in China as well as an appreciation of the US dollar, which is up 2.5 percent. The massive decrease in the prices of the country’s primary commodities has meanwhile resulted in a 31 percent and 81 percent decrease in export earnings from rubber and iron ore, respectively. Average inflation rate has been projected at 11.4 percent for 2014, up from 7.6 percent for 2013, while the end-of-period inflation rate for 2014 is projected at 14.7 percent, up from 8.5 per cent in 2013. This is far beyond the single digit inflation requirement by the West African Monetary Zone and other monetary unions, of which Liberia is a part. The domestic causes of the economic decline are even more demanding, as total government revenue and grants are projected at 27.4 percent of GDP for fiscal year 2014/15, down from 29.9 percent of GDP for fiscal year 2013/14. Total expenditure plus net lending for fiscal year 2014/15, on the other hand, is projected at 28.6 percent of GDP, down from 31.4 percent of GDP for fiscal year 2013/14. The overall fiscal balance including grants for 2014/15, registers a projected deficit of 1.2 percent of GDP, as compared to a deficit of 1.6 percent for 2013/14. But the overall fiscal balance, excluding grants for 2014/15, reflects a projected deficit of 4.9 percent of GDP as compared to a deficit of 4.0 percent for 2013/14.“Owing to this widening fiscal deficit,” said Minister Konneh, “the public external debt for 2014/15 is projected at 14.3 percent of GDP, as compared to 11.6 percent of GDP for 2013/14; while the central government’s domestic debt for 2014/15 is projected at 15.0 percent of GDP, as compared to 16.6 percent of GDP for 2013/14.”Despite these numbers showing looming threat, Minister Konneh assured the public that the government cannot afford to lose sight of its responsibility to effectively govern and remain fully accountable to the people.“The successes we have seen in the field owing largely to our health care workers and the resilience of our communities, must invoke a renewed sense of national urgency to deal with the governance issues that all but exposed our country during these trying times,” he said.The Minister released three very important documents to the public including the first quarter fiscal outturn covering the period July 1st to September 30th 2014 and the First Quarter Consolidated Fund Account and the Ebola National Financing Report, reflecting contributions and expenditure on core Ebola response activities, in line with the National Ebola Response Plan.He challenged ministries and agencies including security agencies that received the Ebola fund to compile and submit their reports to the Ministry of Finance and the General Auditing Commission (GAC) for audit purpose.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

Guyanese top performer awarded University of Toronto scholarship

first_imgGuyanese Vamanadev Upendra Hiralall, one of two students to top CSEC in Guyana, has been awarded the Lester B. Pearson International Scholarship to pursue studies in the Faculty of Arts and Science at the University of Toronto.Hiralall, a former student of the Saraswati Vidya Niketan (SVN) School, is among 40 international students who have been selected for the scholarship.The SVN School on Friday said Hiralall has been an exemplary student in terms ofVamanadev Upendra Hiralallhis singular commitment to academic work.“Such has been his keenness (that) he spotted a number of errors in his Physics textbooks, a fact attested to by his Physics teacher, Alfred Bhulai, who heads the Physics CAPE programme at SVN. According to Mr Bhulai, who has been teaching Physics for almost 50 years, Vamana easily ranks as his best student,” the school said in a statement.The school noted that Hiralall continued his studies with CAPE at SVN, and gained 13 Grade One passes and three Grade Two passes, and was SVN’s 2017 Best Performing CAPE Student.While he was given a spot to pursue medicine at the University of the West Indies at St. Augustine, he felt he had a good chance to compete for international scholarships. As a result, he was awarded a number of scholarships, but has opted for the Pearson Scholarship instead.last_img read more

Hold companies accountable for health, safety, damage to environment – AmCham Guyana

first_img…as T&T counterparts urge robust regulatory framework for oil sectorThe need for companies to make an effort to reduce their carbon footprint, observe health and safety policies, and be held accountable by the countries they operate in was on Wednesday emphasised by Guyana’s American Chamber (AmCham), President Zulficar Ally.Guyana’s American Chamber (AmCham) President, Zulficar AllyA section of the gathering during the conferenceAmCham T&T’s President, Patricia GhanyAlly was at the time speaking during a conference at the Marriott Hotel, organised to discuss health and safety in the Private Sector. According to Ally, companies will be expected to lift their standards when it comes to health and safety and they should be held accountable for that.“Gone are the days when companies can operate with reckless disregard for the environment and its inhabitants. Compassion is the single quality that defines us as humane. And it is now being asked of us, that whether it’s birds or fishes or trees, the right to life is not one that (only) we as human beings are endowed and entitled. And it is not enough to perform grand gestures of show if the impact is minimal,” he said.He stressed the need for companies to not only limit the effects their operations can have, but also make an effort to reverse the damage. Besides the environmental damage, Ally noted the effect irresponsible operations can have on a business’s reputation.“Not only will they lost customers and supporters, but their reputations stand to be irreversibly destroyed by the damage that they leave behind. We should all consider this seriously. A robust environmental programme must not only complement a business mandate, but must remain central to it,” he added.Ally also noted that with the changing economic dynamics in Guyana, companies that want to benefit must lift their standards in these areas. At present, AmCham Guyana is hosting a health, safety, security and environment conference at the Marriott Hotel.The one-day event, held under the theme “preparing for sustainable development”, featured an appearance from Exxon Guyana’s Production Manager Mike Ryan. The Manager endeavoured to give an account of his company’s health and safety policies, stressing that ExxonMobil puts the safety of its workers above business and profits.Adequate systemsThe need for Guyana to get adequate systems in place to regulate the oil and gas sector was also emphasised at the event, this time by AMCHAM’s Trinidad and Tobago chapter.Making these pronouncements was Trinidadian AMCHAM President Patricia Ghany. She warned about the effects of oil spills and other dangers of the sector when appropriate regulations and regulators were not set up. Ghany’s warnings, however, also included an offer of assistance from her organisation to its local counterparts.“There are many changes to come that will transform business and investment. With 23 years of experience and leadership in health and safety, AmCham T&T is ready to assist should the need arrive. So don’t hesitate to reach out to us,” she said.Guyana’s state of readiness is a sore issue, considering the fact that first oil is next year and only a single piece of legislation related to the sector has been passed. This legislation is the Natural Resources Fund Bill, which was signed into law by President David Granger earlier this year.The bill to create a Petroleum Commission is yet to pass in the House, while a national oil spill strategy and local content policy are still works in progress.last_img read more

Manchester City captain Kompany pens new five-year deal

first_img Manchester City captain Vincent Kompany 1 Manchester City captain Vincent Kompany has signed a new five-year contract with the Premier League champions.The 28-year-old defender’s new deal is thought to be worth around £120,000 a-week with considerable add-ons and will keep him at the Etihad until 2019.Kompany joined City from Hamburg SV in 2008 and has since led the club to two Premier League crowns, but admits he wants to add more titles to his collection.The Belgium captain, who has also won the FA Cup and League Cup while at the Etihad Stadium, told the club’s official website: “When I arrived in 2008, I could never have dreamed that we could achieve what we have over the last six years but, for me, this is just the start of the journey.“This team is stronger now than it’s ever been; we have competition for places in every position and a dressing room full of exceptional, motivated people who want to continue making history together.“Lifting two Premier League titles, the FA Cup and the Capital One Cup have been four of the best days of my life but I believe that there are many more of these occasions ahead.“We have a common goal and so much to look forward to – a family of clubs, the opening of City Football Academy, exciting players coming through our youth system – why would I go anywhere else?”Kompany joins fellow key players Aleksandar Kolarov, Samir Nasri and David Silva in all agreeing new deals ahead of the 2014/15 season, which City kick off at Newcastle on Sunday.last_img read more

Real-life medicine and science fiction merge in Burbank

first_imgBURBANK – With four arms wielding graspers, scissors and forceps, the new robotic surgeon at Providence Saint Joseph Medical Center could be the sidekick for Doc Ock, the evil, tentacled cyborg from the “Spider-Man” comics. But this $1.5 million machine will try to save lives. “We’re the good guys. We’ll be helping Spider-Man,” said Dr. Raymond Schaerf, a thoracic and cardiovascular surgeon who next month will be the first the medical center to perform a surgery using the machine on a cancer patient. “This will be another episode in how we’re advancing. … We’re going to be able to do a better job. We’re all excited.” AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORECasino Insider: Here’s a look at San Manuel’s new high limit rooms, Asian restaurant The medical center recently became the first hospital west of Texas to purchase the second generation da Vinci Surgical System, according to its creators, Sunnyvale-based Intuitive Surgical Inc. The new technology is part of a growing medical trend since Dr. Jacques Himpens used robotics to remove a gall bladder in 1997 in Belgium, said Andy Savarese, an Intuitive Surgical sales representative. Since then, tens of thousands of robotic-assisted surgeries have been performed around the world. Sixteen other Southern California hospitals have earlier versions of the da Vinci system, but the Burbank medical center is the first to have the upgraded system. It’s more compact, has more extensive movements of the arms and can work in multiple parts of the body without having to make new incisions. From a control console the size of a race car arcade game, a doctor looks through a viewer into a 3-D image of the section of the body where the operation is taking place. The surgeon uses foot pedals to engage a stereoscopic camera, lighting and the arms, and uses hand controls to maneuver the mechanical arms with technical precision beyond even the steadiest hand. Doctors can dissect and extract organs without the patient losing much blood or damaging tissue. For thoracic surgeries, doctors don’t always have to open up the chest. For example, with da Vinci, doctors can pierce a dime-sized hole between the ribs to access a tumor. “This is going to allow me to do things I can’t do now with the present equipment,” Schaerf said. “It’s just a little bit beyond where I can go with instrumentation.” Up to eight of the medical center’s surgeons are expected to undergo eight hours of training on the machine over the next month. Doctors there eventually hope to use the machine for pediatrics and heart surgeries. There are no plans yet to use the machine for delicate brain surgeries, officials said. Patients still have a choice of whether to use the new technology. And the robot doesn’t think on its own. “It is less invasive. We get better outcomes, and it’s a faster recovery for the patient,” said the medical center’s spokesman Dan Boyle. “It’s great. It means our patients are going to get the best care possible when they come for surgery.” In December, a surgeon used a robot to perform a hysterectomy on Lisa Stewart, 42, of Crestline, at Loma Linda University Medical Center, which has the first generation da Vinci model. “My doctor knew that I did not want to lose a lot of time from work,” Stewart said. “I was out the next day. It was a 4-hour procedure. It felt like I did a lot of crunches, like I did a normal, hard ab workout. I felt great. If I had to have a big surgery that they could do with this machine, I wouldn’t even think twice.” Dr. Kai Ihnken, a cardiothoracic surgeon at Stanford University, is hoping to get an upgraded da Vinci system to use for heart and lung surgeries. “Every day, more and more centers are doing it,” he said. “I’m very excited.” Jason Kandel, (818) 546-3306 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img read more

Call it AT&T Classic

first_img AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREBlues bury Kings early with four first-period goals Tournament director Peter deYoung is getting started on a mammoth task affixing the new name and logo on everything from 1,000 volunteer T-shirts to caddie bibs and assorted signs and banners. “It’s obviously a large job, one where a lot of attention to detail has to be met,” he said. “But it’s not anything that hasn’t already been done before. It’s not sending a man to the moon, but we hope to get 100 percent.” An earlier deal had changed the tournament’s name in 2000 from the Pacific Bell Classic to the SBC Classic. The new AT&T Inc. has to replace both the SBC logo and the old AT&T logo on 50,000 vehicles, 6,000 buildings and 40,000 uniforms and hard hats worn by employees, a process expected to take months. Even SBC Park, the home of the San Francisco Giants, is up for the change. The golf tournament sponsors last month extended the contract with Valencia Country Club through 2007, with an option for 2008. The annual classic was held at sites throughout the Los Angeles region, including Rancho Park Golf Course and Wilshire Country Club, before settling in Santa Clarita in 2001. Attendance has increased by 10 percent to 20 percent each year in Santa Clarita. Last year, the weeklong event drew an estimated 35,000 to 40,000. “It’s going to be managed by the same people,” deYoung said. “It’s going to be the same people playing it. … We look for the same great backing we got from the community (in) the last few years. The volunteers are signing up again. We’re ready to go.” The Associated Press contributed to this report. Eugene Tong, (661) 257-5253 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! VALENCIA – A new but familiar blue globe will hang over Valencia Country Club’s annual Champions Tour golf tournament. With sponsor SBC Communications taking on the name AT&T Inc. after purchasing its former parent company for $16 billion, Santa Clarita’s SBC Classic will become the AT&T Classic, officials said Monday. The tournament is scheduled for March 6-12. San Antonio-based SBC had been Southwestern Bell Corp., one of the “Baby Bells” created when federal regulators broke up AT&T’s national telephone monopoly in 1984. The new AT&T Inc. unveiled its new logo on Monday – a subtly different version of the old blue sphere with the company name, now in lowercase, below it. last_img read more

Aesop’s fables come to Cerritos stage

first_img AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREBlues bury Kings early with four first-period goals 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! NORWALK – The Cerritos College Department of Theatre and the Associated Students will present “Aesop’s Fables” at 8 p.m. nightly on Thursday, Friday and Saturday at the campus Burnight Studio Theater, 11110 Alondra Blvd.A matinee performance will also be held at 2 p.m. Sunday.In the play, classic tales leap from the page to the stage in this comical and adventurous show for the whole family.It will feature selected tales from the wit and wisdom of Aesop, the slave who made good.Tickets are $12 per person, or $10 for students and seniors.For more information or to purchase tickets, call (562) 467-5058 or visit Selby Grove hosts Christmas Bazaar PICO RIVERA – Selby Grove Elementary School is having its fifth annual Christmas Bazaar from 4 to 9 p.m. Friday in the school cafeteria, 8110 Paramount Blvd.Vendor spots are still available; for more information, call (562) 801-5005. Exchange program seeks host homes WHITTIER – Pacific Intercultural Exchange is seeking local families to host foreign exchange students who are scheduled to arrive soon for the academic semester and yearlong program homestays.Students are between 15 and 18 years old, are English-speaking and have their own spending money and insurance.The Exchange has programs to match nearly every family’s needs, ranging in length from one semester to one academic year.Prospective host families can review student applications and select a match.As there are no “typical” host families, the group can fit a student into just about any situation, whether it’s a single parent, childless couple, retired couple or large family.Host families are also eligible to claim a $50 per month charitable contribution deduction on their itemized tax returns for each month they sponsor a student.Students expected to arrive soon hail from Germany, Mexico, Australia, Brazil, the former Soviet Union, Yugoslavia, Yemen, Syria, Venezuela and China, among other countries.Those interested in learning more should call (800) 631-1818. The agency also has programs for local students interested in traveling and studying abroad. Cerritos instructor wins Realtor award NORWALK – Cerritos College Business Education Professor Mary Ellen Brady received the Distinguished Service Award from the Downey Association of Realtors (DAOR) during its annual directors’ installation luncheon.The award is bestowed for services performed within the association, to the community, and for the advancement of the real estate profession.Brady has been a full-time instructor at Cerritos College for two years and is also the department chair for the real estate program.She currently teaches the real estate principles class as well as the work experience program. If you have an event or notice deserving attention, write to us! Send your notice to Tracy Garcia, education reporter, 7612 Greenleaf Ave., Whittier, CA 90602. You may call the office at (562) 698-0955, Ext. 3051, or send e-mail read more

‘Chew’ better come visit Donegal!

first_imgDonegal’s wealth of tourist destinations has been brought to the attention of the thousands of people who visited the annual Holiday World Shows in Belfast and Dublin in recent weeks.Stormtroopers, Darth Vader and a life-sized Chewbacca were all guests at the Donegal showcase to highlight the popularity of the Star Wars theme for the county.Holiday World Show Belfast, Titanic Exhibition Centre, took place 19 to 21 January 2018 & Holiday World Show Dublin, RDS Simmonscourt taking place 26 to 28 January 2018 with over 40,000 visitors attending. Holiday World Show offers visitors the opportunity to meet with over 1,000 travel experts from across Ireland and the globe, book fantastic breaks and avail of special show-only offers. Donegal Tourism staff and Donegal providers with the Minister for Tourism Shane Ross, TD and the Holiday World Show Sales Manager – Paulette Moran.This is the third year running that Donegal Tourism has joined forces with local tourism trade operators hosting the biggest Home Holiday stand at the Shows including the following regions/sectors: Discover Bundoran, Donegal Town, Inishowen, Letterkenny, Donegal East, Gateway to Sliabh Liag, Northwest & Gaeltacht, Donegal Airport, Donegal Self Catering and Camping & Caravan Parks.This year’s marketing was largely focused on the Star Wars theme promoting the film location at Malin Head which certainly peaked the interest of attendees at the event and attracted large numbers to the stand.Olivia Henderson, Katie Morrison and Caoimhe Wilkinson are given some gentle encouragement to go to Donegal.Star Wars Characters at the Donegal stand in RDS, Dublin.Official Launch of the Holiday World Show in Dublin – L-R: Cormac Meehan – President of the Irish Travel Agents Association, Shane Ross, TD – Minister for Tourism and Maureen Ledwith – the Show Organiser.Donegal got some fantastic media coverage across national papers from the official Show Opening in Dublin attended by the Minister of Tourism – Mr. Shane Ross, TD who also visited the Donegal stand.Speaking after the event, Barney Mc Laughlin – Head of Tourism Unit, Donegal County Council said ‘Donegal, once again, working collaboratively was able to promote the County in a comprehensive and professional manner in both Belfast and Dublin. All the regions of the County were represented by tourism providers from their own individual areas which resulted in good one-to-one contact with potential customers’. Donegal Tourism CLG would like to extend gratitude to all of the businesses who donated prizes. These competitions have provided an extensive database of consumer contacts.‘Chew’ better come visit Donegal! was last modified: February 12th, 2018 by Rachel McLaughlinShare this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on Telegram (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to share on Skype (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window) Tags:donegal tourismholiday world showStar Warslast_img read more

Takeaways: Joe Thornton is a perfect fit for the Sharks’ hole at 3C

first_imgClick HERE if you’re unable to view the gallery on your mobile device.SAN JOSE — Apparently, it’s Timo Time all the time in San Jose this season.Timo Meier scored two more goals Saturday, lifting the Sharks (7-4-3) to an overtime victory against the Philadelphia Flyers (6-7-1) by scoring just 13 seconds into the extra session. Meier also found the back of the net at 3:15 of the first, allowing him to break Patrick Marleau’s franchise record of 10 goals in 14 games to open a season (2010, …last_img read more

Evolution Is Slow, Except When It Is Super-Fast

first_imgEvolutionary biologists seem comfortable with rates of evolution that vary by eight orders of magnitude or more.  While some animals found at the alleged dawn of multicellular life at the beginning of the Cambrian have changed little in 500 million years, other organisms seem to evolve right before our eyes.  Sara Goudarzi on LiveScience described one recent instance as evolution in a “heartbeat” or a “nanosecond” compared to usual rates of change.  It involves a species of mussels exposed to an invasive crab in New England waters.  The mussels apparently responded to the new predator by growing thicker shells.  The mussels had not seen this crab in North American waters before, but according to James Byers [U of New Hampshire], co-author of a paper in Science,1 “the mussels’ wheels were well-greased to respond” and evolved to fit the new situation.  “That’s our best guess,” he said.1Freeman and Byers, “Divergent Induced Responses to an Invasive Predator in Marine Mussel Populations,” Science, 11 August 2006: Vol. 313. no. 5788, pp. 831-833, DOI: 10.1126/science.1125485.This is not really evolution – only variation – because it involves one species of mussel.  It makes sense that only variations able to resist the attack of the crabs will remain, because all the others will be victimized.  This process is not controversial even among the most ardent creationists.  Evolutionists, though with their personifying language, make it seem like the mussels organized their defensive strategy with intelligent planning.  The real value of this story is in pointing out the flexibility of Charlie Gumby.    Evolution produces fast predators and prey, except when it produces slow ones.  It leads to bigger individuals, except when it prefers smaller ones.  It generates colorful birds and dull ones, birds that can fly faster and farther, and birds that lose flight altogether.  It makes tasty fruit to attract animals and poisonous fruit to repel them.  Males are explained to be both smart or dumb by evolutionary theory; females are choosy but really driven by their hormones.  Altruism is really disguised selfishness, but selfishness leads to the overall good.  Through evolution emerge showy patterns and camouflage, opacity and transparency, attraction and repulsion, loudness and quietness, high body mass and low density, change and stasis, group behavior and solitude, and opposite strategies for survival.  Since evolutionary theory is jack of all trades, it is master of none.  Some would not even honor such a slippery concept with the rank of jack.  Joker, maybe.(Visited 9 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0last_img read more