Liberia: US Top Diplomat Wants Business Leaders Hold Gov’t Accountable

(L-r) Cllr. N. Oswald Tweh, LCC president; Amb. Linda Thomas Greenfield; LIBA president James M. Strother and LIBA vice president Fomba Trawally 

…. As Liberia Chamber of Commerce and LIBA host inaugural ball in honor of President Boakai

The United States Ambassador to the United Nations, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, has charged business leaders in Liberia about their crucial role in holding the government accountable and advocating for regulations that promote a level playing field for all.

In her remarks, Ambassador Greenfield highlighted the importance of businesses thriving not only for moral reasons but also as a strategic foundation for attracting foreign investment and participating in the global economy.

“As business leaders in this room know, you have a critical role. You have a critical role to play in holding government accountable — to introduce regulations that level the playing field so that all people can thrive — so your businesses can thrive, not only because it is the right thing to do but because it lays the foundation for foreign investment and full participation in the global economy,” she said.

She delivered this keynote speech at the Rescue the Economy Presidential Inaugural Ball, hosted by the Liberia Chamber of Commerce in collaboration with the Liberia Business Association. The prestigious event was attended by international guests, influential business leaders, and dignitaries, marking a historic moment for Liberia’s business community.

The top three sponsors of the Ball included the Liberia International Ship and Corporate Registry (LISCR), High Power Exploration (HPX) and Conex, a Liberian multinational petroleum dealer. 

The Rescue the Economy Inaugural ball is a premier ball sponsored by the private sector. It is not only a celebration of unity but also a historic moment for Liberia, organizers said. It was graced by an array of international guests, influential business leaders, dignitaries, and prominent members of the business community.  

Among the many influential guests present at the ball were Dr. Thelma Awori, a former UN Emissary, Mr. Emmanuel Lawrence, Former LEC Hydro Project Manager; Dr. Dougbeh Chris Nyan, Biomedical Research Scientist and Medical Doctor; and Kenneth Y. Best, founder of the Daily Observer. 

Ambassador Greenfield emphasized that democracies like Liberia need to protect human rights, promote economic development, and deliver on their promises. She also stressed the responsibility of businesses to advocate for policies that foster transparency, accountability, and equal opportunities.

“And so once again, tonight truly is a celebration of all of this progress — of the power of choosing democracy over autocracy, multilateralism over isolation, hope over cynicism,” she said. “Because ultimately, democracy is more than just a lofty idea. Democracies should deliver. Democracies deliver. Democracies protect human rights and promote economic development. It creates safer communities and ensures our voices are heard in the halls of power.” 

Ambassador Greenfield emphasized that businesses have a responsibility to advocate for policies that promote transparency, accountability, and equal opportunities for all. 

She continued, “It is a means to fight our greatest challenges, from disease to climate change. But as we have seen firsthand — both here and in America, we cannot take democracy for granted.

The American diplomat, who also touched upon the issue of corruption and its impact on economic growth, thanked the Chamber of Commerce for hosting the event and expressed gratitude to President Biden for selecting her to lead the American delegation.

“I said that tonight feels like a family reunion. And sometimes, the most important thing a family member can do is deliver hard truths, including the hard truth here in Liberia about corruption,” she said.

“I want to start by thanking the Chamber of Commerce for hosting us tonight, and the Liberian people for the extraordinarily warm welcome I have received since arriving here yesterday. And I particularly want to thank President Biden for selecting me to head the American delegation.” 

President of the Liberia Chamber of Commerce, Cllr. N. Oswald Tweh, welcomed the recognition of the Chamber by the Boakai administration and praised its long-standing efforts to promote trade, commerce, and industry in Liberia.

Since 1951, he said, the chamber has been the driving force behind the growth and development of the Liberian economy. 

The Chamber, Tweh said, is the oldest and most representative institution advocating the business interest of a very diverse private sector, representing close to 200 plus companies and businesses advocating for them to build their capacity to promote trade, commerce, and industry.

“And yes, we have been striving to build and sustain a vibrant business climate here in Liberia by enabling and producing it,” he said.

He hoped that the inaugural ball would signify a new era of collaboration between the government and the business community, leading to a more favorable business environment and increased investment.

“This ball is a historic moment for our nation and the Liberian business community. It demonstrates the new administration’s commitment to creating a safe and enabling business environment that will form a regular public partnership sector trade and investment climate in Liberia,” Tweh added.

James M. Strother, the president of the Liberia Business Association (LiBA), thanked Ambassador Greenfield for attending the event and emphasized the need for unity and collective action among business leaders to drive positive change in the Liberian economy.

Strother urged other business tycoons to come together to change the dynamics of the Liberian economy. He expressed the hope that they will succeed under this new administration as business people and consider Liberia first among all.

Meanwhile, the occasion served as a platform to discuss the challenges facing Liberia and the role of the business community in creating a vibrant and sustainable private sector.