The Collaborating Political Parties (CPP), having listened to President George Weah’s state of the nation address on January 25 and dissected issues the President spoke about, has come out with its analyses of economic problems facing the country and described what the CDC-led government considers as progress as a total contradiction of the existing reality.
According to a statement issued by CPP Chairman and political leader of the Alternative National Congress (ANC), Alexander Cummings, President Weah set the impression that all is well in the country, reporting that the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) was revised downwards to negative 3.3 in 2020 from negative 2.5 percent in 2019 reflecting a decline, though, projecting economic growth in 2021.
The CPP Chairman recalled that the President has stated that the Liberian dollar has appreciated compared to other currencies in the region but with 40 percent of the banknotes mutilated, and called on the Legislature to allow the government to print new family banknotes. “President Weah also called for currency reforms, citing that the CBL does not have control over 90 percent of Liberian dollars outside the banking sector, thus recognizing the lack of confidence or low confidence in the banking sector,” the CPP Chairman recalled.
Even though President Weah acknowledged the printing of L$4 billion in July last year, while the senatorial election was approaching, Mr. Cummings said the President failed to tell the country in his speech what happened to this amount, before he is seeking legislative approval to print additional monies. He also raised the existing concern about the alleged missing L$16 billion, which he said the President could not mention in his speech.
Cummings further recalled the President as having said that the government carried forward from fiscal year 2019/2020 to fiscal year 2020/2021 US$7 million, but at the same time quoted the National Budget of Liberia 2020/2021 Section 1.5 Fiscal table which states that unspent cash carried forward from 2019-2020 fiscal year recast budget is US$10 million.
Mr. Cummings, therefore, wondered what is the fate of the balance $3 million to reconcile the National Budget’s statement as the President is speaking of carrying $7 million forward.
He also wondered why civil servants, contractors for beach and waterways project, employees of Liberia Water & Sewer Corporation (LWSC), and Liberia Airport Authority (LAA) employees are yet to receive when the government is carrying forward residue of fiscal year budget depicting that the country experience budget surplus.
The CPP Chairman also flagged that the President indicated in his speech an increase of $300 million in Liberia’s debt, but again raised concern why such an increase when international partners are sponsoring the constructions of roads in Liberia and were responsible to pay the country’s COVID-19 Response expenses.
Mr. Cummings also questioned the George Weah Administration’s promise to create 1 million jobs for Liberians over a five-year period with about six hundred thousand to be created in three years, but there was not a single job created last year. “Instead of job creation strategy as promised in the PAPD, the government has actually implemented job destruction through its poor governance, lack of accountability and transparency, judicial interference, and general insecurity, which undermines investor’s confidence,” Mr. Cummings said.
In his state of the nation address, President Weah mentioned that 40% food distribution of the stimulus package has reached 1 million Liberians in ten (10) counties, but Mr. Cummings, quoting the Afro Barometer report, said not more than 16% of any social demographic group in Liberia has received said package and 78% of Liberians say the benefits to support people during the COVID-19 were unfairly distributed. Cummings further noted that President Weah’s pronouncement that US$1 million was given the Liberia Electricity Corporation (LEC) for power relief for citizens as part of the stimulus package was a show, as many communities in and around Monrovia are out of electricity either as a result of damaged transformers or the failure of LEC to take power to them.
With US$26 million said to have been used on COVID-19, Cummings questioned the government on what the money was used when health workers continue to go on strike in demand for hazard benefits and salaries.
Besides economic issues, the CPP through its Chairman said the President’s boast for education in Liberia is shameful because the sector remains poorly handled and that his (President Weah’s) celebration is complete mediocrity. He also said the President failed to mention about the national referendum that he (President) began campaigning for before the National Elections Commission (NEC) could declare campaign open.
He indicated further that the President, because of shame, could not mention the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) because it has ended with no hope or idea of renewal for the government. Additionally, he could not give an account of the Road Fund meant to generate income to facilitate the rehabilitation of roads and other road projects.
Mr. Cummings said the Weah Administration, considering what he calls its shortcomings and pitfalls, is still on a “trial and error” governance method and, contrary to the President’s admittance that the country is stable, it is rather weak and unstable.
He further stated that the security situation and corrupt justice system in the country are not anything to mention as all Liberians know the killing of auditors and the unjustifiable and unconstitutional removal of Associate Justice Kabineh Ja’neh continue to hunt the credibility and stability of the country.