LWP members march through the principal streets of Voinjama prior to the indoor program“In order to sustain the livelihood of the local farmers,” Mr. Keller noted, “we must mobilize resources to enhance the support for agriculture thereby improving their standard of living.”He said the Ministry of Agriculture has a significant role to play in fostering LWP’s agenda, therefore, Keller called on the government to provide the environment to help women succeed in the sector.Mr. Keller then provided a loan of L$200,000 to the group, to be paid in four installments.LWP Director, Madam Youngor Sherman, assured Mr. Keller of the group’s readiness to work. She called on all Lofains for their support in awakening the spirit of the county.She disclosed that with the help of one of the county’s leading agriculturists, John Selma and another prominent son of the county, Momo Cyrus, and LWP have acquired 50 acres of land to begin the initiative.Mr. Cyrus is SEGAL’s CEO and managing director. He said agriculture is the way forward for the country’s self-sufficiency in food.“We will not wait until this initiative turns into a national NGO. We want officials of government, especially those of them from Lofa to come and help our women,” he said.Mr. Cyrus reechoed the need for the country to gravitate to mechanized farming to alleviate the intensive labor that farmers go through.LWP was established in August 2010 with an initial membership of 100 persons, then 500 persons and now has exceeded 1000 members.Agriculture is a major sector of the Liberian economy with 38.8% GDP (Gross Domestic Product), employing more than 70% of the population and providing a valuable export.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window) Mr. Keller: “Lofa County remains the country’s food basket.”-Women say at rally to make county’s bread basket againA group of women under the banner, Lofa Women for Progress (LWP) has launched an agricultural initiative to reclaim the county’s lost status as ‘Liberia’s Bread Basket.’The possibility of achieving such an ambitious goal was echoed by one of the founders of the Security Experts Guard of Liberia (SEGAL), Lionel A. Keller, Jr. who served as the keynote speaker.Keller said Lofa County has the potential to reclaim its pre-war status as the most productive county as recorded during the 1970s and 1980s. This, he said, is achievable but not with subsistence farming.“We therefore need to graduate from this type of farming, and move to mechanized farming. This is the only way we can make it better. I know you women will get there,” Mr. Keller said as a challenge to the women.He added, “we have come to enlighten the minds of our mothers, sisters and daughters, who have deemed it necessary to foster great prospects in the country’s agricultural sector. We would like to encourage you to continue to strive in this sector.”He defined agriculture as the bedrock of the nation, “and with support from everyone, our women will work to meet the objectives of this organization.”Mr. Keller urged the people of Lofa to rally around the women to ensure that the county regain its lost status in the sector.He added that women have played a significant role in the development of the country through agriculture—a role that they need to retake to ensure that the country becomes food sufficient.“I want to inform you that majority of our farmers are women, who represent more than 50 percent of the country’s farming population,” Keller said.He said empowering women in the sector will assist them to fight poverty to the very end, nothing that LWP’s goals are achievable, but require a lot of work.
– rise in income, import duty, VAT and excise tax collectionsWhile a number of indicators point to Guyana’s economic growth declining, one thing that is not declining is tax collection. The statistics show that for the year 2017, tax and non-tax collection rose to $194.7 billion.GRA headquartersThe 2017 end-of-year outcome report states that tax revenues accounted for $171.2 billion of the overall amount. At the heart of this increase in tax revenues, which account for 87.9 per cent of total revenue, is the Government raking in more taxes than ever.For instance, there was a $1 billion or 1.4 per cent increase in the collection of income tax; $600 million or a 3.5 per cent hike in import duty collection and a $300 billion or 0.4 per cent hike in Value Added Tax (VAT) and excise tax collection.“Total non-tax revenues were projected at $23.6 billion; actual non-tax revenues for 2017 were, therefore, closely in line with the projections at the time of Budget 2018. The Guyana Revenue Authority remitted $49.2 billion,” the report states.According to the report, this is equivalent to 28.8 per cent of tax revenues, compared to 27.9 per cent in 2016 ($42.3 billion). It is also $2.2 billion more than the estimated sum quoted in Budget 2018.While tax collection is up, however, other aspects of the report indicate some troubling patterns. For instance, the same report shows that the deficit in Guyana’s balance of payments, an important economic indicator, is on the rise.Balance of Payments is the record of a country’s fiscal transactions, including imports and exports. To therefore record a deficit, Guyana would have had to spend more on imports, among other things, than it gained from exports.According to the report, Guyana’s overall balance of payment in the 2017 fiscal year showed a deficit of US$69.5 million. This is a hike when compared to US$53.3 million the previous year. And a breakdown of the figures shows stunning disparities.On the one hand, the current account shows a deficit of US$287.4 million for the year 2017. But in the previous fiscal year, the report notes, this was just US$12.4 million. The report admits that this is because of a negative balance on the merchandise trade account:“The further weakening was due to the negative balance on the merchandise trade account. Merchandise exports were slightly lower than projected, mainly on account of lower export earnings of gold and other exports in the last two months of the year.”When Finance Minister Winston Jordan presented the 2018 Budget last year, he had announced that merchandise imports were estimated to grow by 9.6 per cent. This had been attributed to increased imports of mining machinery, chemicals, fuel, and lubricants. According to the report, imports exceeded the Government’s projections.“Imports were slightly more than the US$1.59 billion projected at the time of the presentation of the 2018 Budget. As a result, the merchandise trade deficit of US$196.2 million was considerably higher than the projected deficit of US$147.2 million.”“Notwithstanding, the deficit on the services account was lower than estimated. The improvement in the services account more than offset the weaker balances on both the non-factor services and unrequited transfers accounts,” the report states.The parliamentary Opposition had previously expressed concern over the increasing deficit in the country’s balance of payments, which it had said would continue to have serious implications for the local economy.This is coupled with the revised growth rate of 2.1. The growth rate was attributed to the fact that sugar, bauxite, and gold all underperformed.
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Arsenal and Liverpool target Alexandre Lacazette says he has not made his mind up about his future – but it would be hard to turn down Barcelona or Real Madrid.The striker was in stunning form for Lyon last season, finishing as the top scorer in Ligue 1 and attracting interest from all of Europe’s top sides.The 24-year-old is expected to complete a big money move this summer but at this moment he admits nothing has been decided.“I have not made my decision. I will go on holiday, leave my agent to discuss things, for him to look after all that,” Lacazette told Le Parisien.“I am not worried. It won’t worry me at all. As soon as I have decided, I want it all to happen quickly.“When? That is the question. I could stay at Lyon next season and have a terrible season, I could leave and have an incredible season.“Everything depends on the destination. It would have to be for a Champions League club. Barcelona and Real Madrid – you don’t reject them.“But today, between leaving and staying, it is not 50-50 – it is zero. I am not thinking about it. I am going to enjoy the national team and I will think about it after.” Alexandre Lacazette 1