The persistent cry to establish the war and economic crimes court in the country received a breakthrough on Friday, September 6, 2019, when stakeholders at the just-ended three-day National Economic Dialogue (NED), principally recommended to President George M. Weah to establish the court.
In the recommendation, the stakeholders said the implementation of the proposes should be tied to the cabinet performance contracts with ministers, deputies, and assistants to sign and the President should immediately inform them about their marching orders.
The establishment of these courts, which falls under the medium term of the NED, also called on President Weah to implement the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) recommendations.
The NED, which brought together over 350 concerned participants from government, political parties, youth group, women, development partners, civil society organizations, and the institution of higher learning were all engaged in this conversations.
Dr. Toga Gayewea McIntosh, Head of NED Secretariat, who read the consensus document, call on President Weah Strengthen his capacity within the presidency to monitor the implementation and outcome of the just ended dialogue.
Reading the preamble, Dr. McIntosh said, “We note, the many economic challenges and are deeply concerned about the hardship brought upon our people as a result of these challenges.
“We are also deeply concerned about the possible negative impact these challenges could have on the viability of the nation’s state and of the survival of our people.”
He said the three-days NED conversation was focused on four interrelated areas, including the mobilization and management of public finance; Promoting investment and growing private sector business; tracking existing high employment rate amongst our youthful population and the shortage of appropriate skills, and sustaining the peace and bring about genuine reconciliation.
“We, reach the general consensus that urgent and strategy strategies and the program must be undertaken by all stakeholders, all arm of government, private sector actors, non-governmental organizations, development partners, individual citizens, and our communities, all stakeholders and these actions should be taken within the next three years, effective from now.
“And the idea is to stop rapidly declining economic trend and beginning a gradual posterity economy’s growth pattern. We, recognized that and for this to become a reality and remain meaningful, this will require a high degree of commitment, political way and self-confidence, and sacrifices amongst the Liberian people,” he added.
Dr. McIntosh said the process begins with providing and responding effectively to three fundamental questions: What is it that we the Liberian people want; How do we as a people and government go about obtaining these things that we say we want; Are we really ready to collectively do those things that are different to get us to where we want to be?
He further said, “We, recognize the challenges facing the economy and the need to mobilize collective efforts while providing huge strategies to omen the pro-poor Agenda for Development and Prosperity (PAPD) that will be implemented in conjunction with our international partners to revive immediately our poor economy state to lay the needed foundation.”
Dr. McIntosh used the occasion to thank President Weah for initiating the dialogue and for his engagement.
“We, also thanked the UNDP, the EU, USAID, ECOWAS, among other partners and the Economy Dialogue Secretariat, all of the supporting staff that have made so we have a successful dialogue.
“We, the people of Liberia are pleased to submit the following practical initiatives and programs with a time-bound role map to be incorporated into the respective action strategic plan of responsible parties to bring about a speedily economy revival and growth within the next three years,” said they are durable things and vital for the survival and faith of the Liberian economy.
Under public finance mobilization and management, Dr. McIntosh said immediate actions should be taken within the next six months to complete the process for enactment of the custom code, negotiate and restructure extended debt and quantified (tell us how much), validate (find out the truth behind it) all of the domestic debts and negotiate around the finance.
He said the government should recapitalize the Central Bank of Liberia by enforcing existing rules and ensure compliance with an audit of other regulatory within the sector.
Dr. McIntosh said, “Our partners need to improve aid management and coordination; increase revenue collections with the appropriate strategy for small, medium and large taxpayers.
“Close the lope holds in our laws, policies and the processes to reduce linkages in the revenue collections side and the expenditure side.” President Weah, who received the consensus document from the NED secretariat welcome decision from the stakeholders and promise to immediately act upon it.
Weah said in order to implement these recommendations from the NED, he will in the few days set up a cabinet committee that will implement them.
President Weah assured stakeholders that their efforts and contributions will not go in vain, but will ensure that the people of Liberia reap positive benefits from their deliberations.
“I want to assure you that my Government will take these proposals into urgent and careful consideration. Our focus will be on implementation, although the timing will be a matter for synchronization and harmonization with existing programs and policies.
“Additionally, I wish to propose that the National Economic Dialogue Conference should take place on an annual basis, in order to conduct an annual review of the progress that has been made on implementation of the road map presented here today, as well as to analyze each year’s current economic situation so that the necessary adjustments, revisions, and amendments can be made to programs and policies,” he said.
Furthermore, “I wish to announce that I will shortly appoint a High Council of Economic Advisors in the Office of the President. This High Council will consist of both Liberian and international experts, renown for their expertise and experience in their respective disciplines, who will serve on a voluntary basis. They will be required to meet on a quarterly basis, to review our economic policies and programs, and advise my Government accordingly.
“Let me put you on notice that several of you who have participated in this National Economic Dialogue will be tapped to serve on the High Council of Economic Advisors. So let it come as no surprise to you.
“And now, I wish to thank all of you for your participation in this important Conference, especially those of you who traveled from far. I wish to assure you that your efforts and contributions to our National Economic Dialogue will not go in vain. I will ensure that the People of Liberia reap positive benefits from all that you have done here over the past three days,” President Weah added.
He reminded all Liberians, regardless of political affiliation, religion, creed, or tribe; whether resident or in the diaspora, that we all have a responsibility and an obligation to contribute our ideas and suggestions for the revitalization of our economy.
“We are all aware of the problems, most of which have existed for a very long time, and we have all suffered because of them. But this is not the time to point fingers or to apportion blame, for this will not solve anything. In fact, it is our very awareness of the extent of the problems and the hardships that they have caused, that moved us to seek leadership in order to try to resolve them.
“I now have that responsibility, as well as the opportunity, to find a new way forward. I welcome your constructive criticisms. But, more importantly, I invite your positive contributions to this national dialogue.
“In addressing the concerns raised by a previous speaker regarding that there should be more women in my Government, l want you to know that “more” already implies “more than one”. However, if the intention is to suggest that you want “additional” women in government, then let me assure you that we are on the path to employ more women. As Liberia’s “Feminist-in-Chief”, my commitment to inclusiveness of women at all levels of leadership and governance in our society remains firm and unwavering.
“Working together, we can make a difference. Let us always chose dialogue over confrontation, and work in harmony to strengthen and sustain our hard-won peace, because, without peace, our world will be difficult,” he said.