A Liberian entrepreneur says contrary to President George Weah’s assertions during his inaugural address that Liberians in the private sector would not be spectators in their own economy, the Government itself has not been able to settle most of its debts owed several private businesses. This situation, according to Joseph Wiah, is contributing to the economic strangulation of the financial capacity of the private sector.
Wiah, a used car dealer who spoke with the Daily Observer on March 25, said he cannot bear the government’s continued delay to pay debts for equipment, vehicles and other supplies owed to business people is grossly affecting them.
It can be recalled that during his inaugural address, President Weah said, “To the private sector, I say to you that Liberia is opened for business. We want to be known as a business-friendly government. We will do all that is within our power to provide an environment that will be conducive to the conduct of honest and transparent business. We will remove unnecessary regulatory constraints that tend to impede the establishment and operation of businesses in a profitable and predictable manner.”
Wiah said the current economic situation in the country calls for concern because the private sector is going down the drain and businesses are being strangulated by the government.
This, Wiah believes, is causing more doubts over the economic recovery and certainties for the survival of the private sector.
Wiah said the President has not been living up to the commitment he made to the private sector during the inauguration.
“What kind of country is this?” Wiah angrily emphasized,” When the government is not conscious about the welfare of the private sector.”
He claims that on many occasions he had sold used cars to the government on credit, stressing, “Even when they take the vehicles, they will fail completely to know that they owe you.”
“Sometimes you have an agreement with them to pay the debt in ninety days, but they do not make good their promises, leaving you to walk behind them for about a year before they can make a settlement,” Wiah emphasized.
“Even if you were to take the matter to the court, you would make it worse because when you win the case, the court will not have the power to enforce its own judgment against the government,” Wiah expressed frustration.
Wiah said that on countless occasions he has won cases against the government, but not much has been done to enforce the judgment to compel the government to settle the payment.
“Is the president living up to the promises to the private sector? Who is to be blamed? Is there any way to make it work?” Wiah asked for a solution.
Wiah indicated that because of this practice of the government, they, business people, have decided to ask for part payment or collateral before giving up their commodities to any government’s agencies.
“Look, in past years when you sold a car on credit to any public entities with a ninety day-period for payment, they would meet up with that agreement. But that is not working anymore,” Wiah noted, adding “Even, after a year when they pay your debt, they sometimes ask for a bribe. What kind of country is this. Who is going to solve these bad business practices.”
“We never used to be like this. Somebody needs to tell us how to fix it. Else, the private sector will not be able to survive when this trend continues, and thousands of people will go out of a job which is worrisome for our country,” Wiah stressed.