Movement for Economic Empowerment (MOVEE) chairman Dee-Maxwell Kemayah has given mixed reviews to President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s final Annual Message to the joint session of the legislature, adding his take on the issues the speech dealt with, including transformative change in the financial sector, fixing the economy and curbing corruption.
Putting forward a brief disclaimer, Dee-Maxwell Kemayah said although Sirleaf’s annual message did not justify continuity, citizens should however be prepared to move on with something different.
“No nation that wants to move forward will reward incompetence, certainly not one that has been stuck in the pit of underdevelopment for so long as Liberia has been.
“And the argument is not that ‘nothing has been done,’ rather, it is about the imperative to put Liberia on a new course that will bring about rapid transformation to make up for the many years of lagging behind, years that have been eaten up by the locust of incompetence, the lack of political will to put the interest of the country first, nepotism, corruption, manipulation and vindictiveness in high places and shortsightedness.
“Put simply, while we must acknowledge that the present Administration did a number of good things … the experience from the past eleven years calls for change to speed up the process of inclusiveness, economic growth and development,” he said.
In fact, the need for meaningful change has been a timeless song in Liberia’s long history. So, for the Movement for Economic Empowerment, this is not a criticism tinted by myopia to be laid only at the feet of the Sirleaf Administration, he added.
Despite the deficiencies of the President’s speech, Kemayah is keen to observe transformative change in the financial sector in the past eleven years, made possible under the astute leadership of Central Bank of Liberia’s (CBL) Chairman of the Board of Governors and Executive Governor, Dr. Joseph Mills Jones.
Dr Jones is the standard bearer and presidential hopeful of the Movement for Economic Empowerment (MOVEE).
In her address, Chairman Kemayah said the President provided a litany of accomplishments in the financial sector, perhaps, most importantly, the restoration of confidence in the financial system, championing the establishment of a fast-track commercial court, the development of the new Insurance Law of 2013, the increase in the number of commercial banks, including the establishment of eleven Rural Community Finance Institutions, and the development of the mobile money framework.
“Another noteworthy fact is that today, there is at least one financial institution in each of the fifteen counties. Not mentioned in the President’s report, though widely acknowledged by the public, are the efforts of the Central Bank of Liberia to improve access to finance for all segments of Liberian entrepreneurs, including market women, petty traders and farmers.
“The CBL also tried to stimulate the mortgage industry, which benefited a number of Liberians. This shows that enlightened and committed leadership can accomplish big things…without the many new initiatives of the Central Bank to help improve the environment for Liberian entrepreneurs, including those in the informal sector, the human toll of the present downturn in the economy would have been more significant.”
He went on to allege that “the present Sirleaf-Boakai administration vigorously opposed the financial inclusion policy of the CBL, even rallied members of the legislature to throw roadblocks in the way of the leadership of the CBL. This was a classic case of ‘old thinking’ versus ‘new thinking’; and it is time to put to rest such old thinking, if Liberia as a nation is to move its people forward.”
Kemayah said MOVEE is a political party whose philosophy takes a direct aim at long-standing, abject poverty in Liberia that will offer the Liberian people a new dose of action, not promises and borrowed platitudes, “as has been the case of the Sirleaf-Boakai administration.”
According to Kemayah, the purpose of an Annual Message by a President is not just a constitutional formality or an expression of the trappings of state power. “It is certainly not intended to provide a forum for shifting of blame by the highest authority in the land. In fact, it could be said that this position applies to presidential addresses in general.”
He said when the president speaks, people listen to be inspired; to hear ideas to move the nation forward; to get guidance from one in whom they have placed their hope; to hear words that paint a portrait of a people with a common destiny.
The MOVEE chairman said under a government led by MOVEE, a serious fight against corruption will be backed by strong political will and support to anti-graft and integrity institutions.
“After a fair trial, with the government represented by experienced trial lawyers with integrity, those found guilty will be made a public example when they find themselves in orange jumpsuits performing public works along the roadside, while also facing the confiscation of the stolen wealth, appropriate jail sentences and fines.
“MOVEE says there is only one way to fight corruption, that is, just fight corruption. The fight may be difficult to describe, but people will know it when they see and hear about it. Let us go further to say that if there is need to reform our penal code to prevent delay tactics in the courts and long periods for the appeal process in cases of corruption, then we will be prepared to propose such reform,” he said.