News / Africa

    Liberian Press Union Urges Government to Pay Overdue Media Debt

    James Butty
    The Press Union of Liberia is calling on government ministries and agencies to pay their overdue advertising debt owed to media institutions in the country.

    Press Union President Peter Quaqua says the union considers the protracted government indebtedness as counterproductive to the survival and sustainability of media institutions.

    “One of those areas where the media gets its income to operate is through advertisement, and I was amazed to know that the government is owing for as long as three to six years. And I thought this was alarming that the government should be owing this amount. Now we are getting to the point where they [the government] is even asking for waver of some of the debt,” he said.

    Quaqua said the Press Union has learnt that the Liberian government has also requested tax clearances in some cases before processing payments, something he describes as “strange and troubling.”

    “We are confused by such development and refuse to accept that the government will choose to do business with a media institution in the first place without checking its tax status, but would request clearances only at the time of payment. This is strange and troubling,” Quaqua said.

    Butty interview with Quaqua
    Butty interview with Quaquai
    || 0:00:00
    ...    
     
    X

    But Information Minister Lewis Brown says the government is doing everything possible to pay its debt. He blamed the delay on what he calls a shift in the government’s budget preparation process.

    “I do know at the level of the Ministry of Information, we are in discussion with the publishing association and heads of electronic media houses, going over issues of debt and payment by the government. You also may be aware that there was a shift in our budget preparation process, and so it has caused a bit of unexpected delay. But as I speak to you, everything is now being done to get copies of those bills and to settle them,” he said.

    Brown said it is not uncommon for governments to demand to see the tax clearances of institutions it does business with.

    Butty interview with Brown
    Butty interview with Browni
    || 0:00:00
    ...    
     
    X

    “The usual practice everywhere is once the government accepts a bill, especially in terms of a payment, if you are owing, the government naturally takes its taxes off and give you your money. So this is not a new practice. This is not a quid pro quo as you might want to put it, but this is a normal course of doing business with all governments everywhere,” Brown said.

    Quaqua said the Press Union is also calling on media houses to do their part in improving the condition of service journalists in Liberia.

    He said the union will begin consultations August 27 with media owners and practitioners on drafting a “Collective Bargaining Agreement to enhance the “labor and ethical standards for journalists, including wages.”

    You May Like

    Clinton, Trump and the 'Woman’s Card'

    Ask supporters of Democratic front-runner in US presidential campaign, and they’ll tell you Republican presidential candidate is playing a dangerous hand

    Russian Censorship Group Seeks Chinese Help to Better Control Internet

    At recent Safe Internet League forum in Moscow, speakers from both nations underscored desire for authorities to further limit and control information online

    Video Makeshift Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Free classes in Islamabad park serve a few of the country’s nearly 25 million out-of-school youths; NGO cites ‘education crisis’

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensionsi
    X
    April 29, 2016 12:28 AM
    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensions

    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Bangladesh Targeted Killings Spark Wave of Fear

    People in Bangladesh’s capital are expressing deep concern over the brutal attacks that have killed secular blogger, and most recently a gay rights activist and an employee of the U.S. embassy. Xulhaz Mannan, an embassy protocol officer and the editor of the country’s only gay and transgender magazine Roopban; and his friend Mehboob Rabbi Tanoy, a gay rights activist, were hacked to death by five attackers in Mannan’s Dhaka home earlier this month.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.
    Video

    Video West Urges Unity in Libya as Migrant Numbers Soar

    The Italian government says a NATO-led mission aimed at stemming the flow of migrants from Libya to Europe could be up and running by July. There are concerns that the number of migrants could soar as the route through Greece and the Balkans remains blocked. Western powers say the political chaos in Libya is being exploited by people smugglers — and they are pressuring rival groups to come together under the new unity government. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Russia’s TV Rain Swims Against Tide in Sea of Kremlin Propaganda

    Russia’s media freedoms have been gradually eroded under President Vladimir Putin as his government has increased state ownership, influence, and restrictions on critical reporting. Television, where most Russians get their news, has been the main target and is now almost completely state controlled. But in the Russian capital, TV Rain stands out as an island in a sea of Kremlin propaganda.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora