LIPO Director General, Roosevelt Gould Kicks off development of National IP PlanThe Liberia Industrial Property Office (LIPO) has begun a 12-day stakeholders’ field trip intended to develop a national intellectual property strategic plan to be integrated into the government’s national development agenda.The field trip comes at a time when investors, inventors and artists in the creative sector (film, music, innovation, etc ), are taking steps to ensure that government pays more attention to this lucrative creative industry.Since the country enacted the Intellectual Property Law, no government – past or present, has fully given recognition to the creative sector as an engine of growth due to what they describe as ‘lack of a road map for the sector.’Accordingly, the 12-day LIPO field trip is expected to change things as part of its trajectory will be the development of a national strategic intellectual property (IP) plan that will encourage and facilitate useful creations, critical developments and management and protection of IP at the national level, as well as giving more subsidies to creative industry societies.LIPO director general Roosevelt Gould, who took over the agency less than five months ago, initiated this crucial activity that will soon see artists benefiting more from their career paths. Artists have described the plan that is being developed as “a crosscutting document which outlines links with diverse policy areas to ensure effective coordination with other activities.”He added that a national IP strategy strengthens a country’s ability to generate economic growth, both in terms of GDP and human capital.“With the coming of this strategy, everything ranging from literary to artistic works and genetic and biological assets will be protected and the individuals behind them will fully reap their benefits. Without a national IP strategy, it is difficult to unlock these assets in a planned, efficient, and sustainable manner.“The goal of this national IP strategy is the creation, ownership, and management of artists and inventors’ rights to increase economic growth. The world is now being controlled by IP, and if other countries are benefiting from this, it is about time Liberia starts to benefit as well.“We have artists and inventors who are supposed to be millionaires by now, but this is not happening because we lack a national IP strategy. We have a good IP law but in the absence of a national IP strategy – which is a key policy tool to promote public interest in the arts and innovation and for the environment to thrive, then the law remains inactive,” he said.Gould noted that since 2009, LIPO has been undergoing numerous reforms and working hard to make sure that its performance equals and surpasses its mandate.Director Gould added that the 12-day field trip will be managed by two expert consultants sent by the World Intellectual Property Organization to work alongside the agency’s staff to develop the country’s strategic IP plan through stakeholder engagement.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)
OLPF forensic auditThe forensic audit conducted on the One Laptop Per Family (OLPF) Project has revealed millions of dollars in losses due to over five thousand computers going missing or being damaged.The audit was conducted last year by Ram and McRae Chartered Accountants. The report was submitted to Finance Minister Winston Jordan in December but was only published on the Ministry’s website on Friday. The main objective of the OLPF project was to acquire and distribute laptops to 90,000 families countrywide.According to the auditors, “It is likely that of the total number of laptops acquired by purchase or grant of 55,145, some 5136 were either stolen or are defective. In dollar terms, the actual loss to the Government is $306,160,171.”The report found pointed out that during 2012, management of the project had discovered that 103 laptops, amounting to some $5,912,200, were missing. Following investigations by the Guyana Police Force, the services of seven employees were terminated by the Office of the President on February 22, 2013; however, the missing laptops were never recovered.In addition, a full (100 per cent) physical inventory count was requested and observed on August 5, 2015 by the auditors, who subsequently preformed a reconciliation based on the documents provided. Their procedures found that management was unable to account for an additional 1875 laptops costing $109,168,913.“We believe that this matter should be referred to the Police for a full investigation,” the report recommended. Moreover, it was highlighted that some 3158 laptops, valued $191,079,058, that were in stock are all damaged. The auditors said that they were unable to determine whether these are beyond repair.On the issue of distribution, the audit found total distribution cost amount to $35,291,406 or three per cent of the total cost of the project. The average cost of distribution per laptop was therefore $706. However, the reported stated that up to and including December 31, 2014, the Project had fallen short of the target of 90,000 laptops to be distributed by 31,697 or 35 per cent.Meanwhile, the auditing firm noted that total training cost amounted to $70,750,427 or six per cent of the total cost. The average cost of training per laptop was therefore $1415. However, it was outlined that while the OLPF’s mission statement defined a clear obligation to provide 10 hours of training to all laptop recipients, the Project Manager had decided to cease the training aspect of the project during the last quarter of 2013. The auditors roughly estimated that some 14,138 laptops were distributed without the requisite training.“It is clear from the summary analysis above that 92 per cent of the total cost was incurred due to indirect expenses, while only eight per cent was directly attributable to the underlying objective of the project,” the report stated.The auditors believe that the general expenses of the OLPF project were exorbitant and could have been curtailed by management. Moreover, they stated that the scope of their engagement was limited by the fact that management was unable to provide a number of significant documents for review. This was compounded by the fact that the Project Manager, Margo Boyce and the Deputy Project Manager, Azariah Asim, resigned during the course of the investigation. In both cases, their last day for work was August 14, 2015.Nevertheless, the report highlighted the new agreement signed between the Government of Guyana and Aerospace Science and Industry Shenzhen Co Ltd (China) on September 15, 2015, which caters for 9609 laptops to be provided by China at a total cost of $1,631,000,000. These laptops are to be distributed to educators, students, institutions of learning and community-based organisations.“We draw attention to the average unit price of $169,737 for the 9609 laptops to be acquired. This compares unfavourably with the average price of $58,044.83 per laptop acquired by the last Administration. It should be noted that the new laptops are of a higher quality and specifications compared to the models acquired by the previous Administration,” the auditors explained.However, it was recognised that laptops of similar capacity are listed on the international markets at a retail price ranging from $86,310 to $108,974.
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