‘Gov’t to Launch New Vision for Liberia’

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Mr. Tweah: "FPA's story is far from the truth."

-Says Finance Min. Tweah, wants govt. officials’, civil servants’ salaries cut

By Roland Perry

The Minister of Finance and Development Planning Samuel D. Tweah has disclosed that the Coalition for Democratic Change  (CDC)-led government does not have a ‘development agenda for the country,’ since the election of President George M. Weah.

Minister Tweah made the disclosure when he spoke on Sunday, April 15, at a town hall meeting in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in the United States of America.

Tweah said the “pro-poor agenda” of the CDC administration is a “proposal that is being formulated into a vision for the country.”

He added that the town hall meeting is part of a broad-based consultation to solicit the views and inputs of Liberians both home and abroad in crafting a new vision for the country, to replace the Agenda For Transformation (AFT) of the former Unity Party (UP) administration.

The delegation to the meeting included Deputy Minister for Economic Management Augustus J. Flomo, Agriculture Minister Mogana S. Flomo Jr., Minister of Information, Cultural Affairs and Tourism Lenn Eugene Nagbe, and Minister of State without Portfolio Trokon Kpui.

The team addressed a wide range of issues relating to  economic, agriculture, youth and women empowerment, peace and security, education, roads and infrastructural development.

Minister Tweah said, “Following these consultations, the government will launch a new vision for Liberia, which will be on by June 30, at the beginning of the new budget year.”

He added that the “national budget should be about the poor people and not government officials,” suggesting that salaries of government officials and civil servants should be cut to target vulnerable Liberians, especially those in rural communities.

Information Minister Eugene Nagbe reaffirmed President George Weah’s commitment in protecting freedom of speech and of the media. He added that the president is reviewing, and will shortly resubmit to the legislature for repeal, all laws that criminalize speech offenses in the country.

Minister Nagbe noted that the government is working with the Press Union of Liberia (PUL), the Center for Media Studies and Peace Building and other media organizations in the country to achieve this goal.

However, Minister Samuel Tweah was very critical of the Liberian media during the town hall forum, pointing out that the media in Liberia publish stories that target Liberians living outside of the country and not those living in the country.

The Finance Minister said “many Liberians do not read news and information published by the Liberian media,” though he did not cite any studies or statistics but cautioned those in the Diaspora to counter-check the news that is being reported by the local media  in order to make informed decisions.

Rationalizing public spending and budget cuts

In a power point presentation, Minister Tweah said, “strong revenue performance is  key to sustaining the pro-poor agenda of the government.” He added that a minimum of US$300 million will have to be raised in addition to whatever revenue that is being generated today to support the pro-poor vision and to ensure Liberia remains on a debt-sustainable path.

He noted that ‘projection for the fiscal year 2018/19 budget is around US$515M and will focus on reducing the purchase of goods and services and on public sector investment in the administration of the government.

“The increase in revenue will support the aggressive implementation of a new domestic resource mobilization strategy, which aims to reduce tax exemptions, move toward value-added taxes as opposed to Goods and Services Tax (GST), and increase reliance on technology to minimize corruption in tax administration,” he said.

“But the biggest impact will come from increased investment and valued addition in oil palm, which has strong potential and recovery in rubber and iron ore prices, should provide some succor,” the Minister said.

Shedding some light on the 536 million Road Project

Minister Tweah outlined roads and electricity as a major component of the new vision for the country. He added that only 10 percent of 11,400 km of roads in the country are paved, while 60 percent of roads are in terrible conditions.

He added that the Ministry of Public Works has informed the government that many bridges in the country are on the verge of collapse if nothing is done to address the situation.

The minister maintained that “the Government of Liberia has entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Eton Finance Private Limited to fund the Buchanan – Cestos City – Greenville Barclayville Road Project, the Barclayville – Sasstown Road Project, the Barclayville – Pleebo Road Project, the Medina – Robertsport Road Project, the Tubmanburg – Bopolu Road Project and other associated projects.

“About 503 km of roads will be constructed in addition to five football stadiums. This gives per km cost of US$1.066 million per km of road, which is around the same cost as Ganta-Red Light, which was US$1 million per km road, but is better considering that Ganta-Red Light was already paved,” the Minister noted.

Minister Tweah further indicated that “The US$536M loan is highly concessional: seven-year grace period, no accrued interest and no interest payment during the grace period.  Using the IMF Grant Element Calculator shows a grant element of 35 percent, which means about 35 percent of the loan can be considered a grant.

But grant element is higher than 35 percent because the IMF calculator assumes interest payments during the 7-year grace period. No interests are paid during the grace period under the terms of US$536M, he stated.

“Contrary to what has been reported in the media, this loan does not compromise Liberia’s debt sustainability. As a matter of fact, Liberia does not presently have an IMF program and is planning on entering a new program,” the Minister said.

Sustaining Investments in Power

Commenting on electricity, Minister Tweah said ‘the government has planned on optimizing the capacity at Mount Coffee Hydro Via River Reservoir Project from 88 MW to about 500 MW, construct mini hydros for rural areas to support economic growth clusters in the agriculture sector, and sustained support for energy sector organizations.

The Minister said the government is seeking more funding to increase the ongoing transmission and distribution of electricity across the country. “The government has begun the installation of 500 solar street lights from the ELWA Junction in Paynesville City to the Roberts International Airport in Margibi County,” he said.

He said President Weah will shortly appoint new members of the Energy Regulatory Commission, which will work to open the space for private investment in the energy sector and help in resolving some of the challenges.

Economic Diversification will be key to delivering pro-poor transformation

Speaking on the issue of economic diversification, Minister Tweah said, “We aim to add value to Liberia’s primary products such as the rubber, forestry, iron ore, Coffee, cocoa, oil palm etc.

“Valued addition in these sectors can create thousands of jobs for many Liberians. Defining local rice and cassava production and value addition from these crops as a major driver in transforming the economy and creating jobs.”

Minister Tweah stated that Liberia will face a national security risk if the government fails to create jobs for young people, especially vulnerable Liberians.

During the consultations, several Liberians were given the opportunity to express views on what they thought should be placed in the new vision for the country.

The participants called for the pavement of roads, construction of more schools and hospitals, the provision of basic social services across the country and the training of more teachers and doctors.

Others suggested the provision of loans for farmers to get involved in large-scale farming to help grow more food for the country, while some suggested that the government must do more to reduce charges on containers at the Freeport of Monrovia.

Authors

14 COMMENTS

  1. The idea to cut salaries of government employees is not wrongheaded. But, salaries should not be cut across the board because most civil servant employees did not fare well during the last 12 years. Members of the Liberian legislature did well as well as Johnson-Sirleaf’s cabinet ministers. Unfortunately, school teachers, nurses, the cops and others swam against the wind twelve-plus years ago.

    My only concern here is that if the Agenda For Transformation (AFT) is being replaced, why can’t the former cabinet ministers of the UP be relaced? Why? Are there not any qualified Liberians left?

  2. Mr. Minister, I do wish you the best in the implementation of your national development plan, but please do not cut civil servant salaries across the the board. I suggest that you view these salaries as per the disparity in salary structures.

  3. A good economic plan and strong discipline will enable this government accomplish its objectives. With regards to agriculture, there needs to be a thoughtful strategy. Giving loans to subsistence farmers will have nominal impact on the economy, but you can’t entirely exclude them. The plan should focus on medium to large-scale cocoa, coffee and rice projects. One of the challenges is most Liberian farmers are illiterate, small holder farmers and they lack the skills to run a modern operation with machinery, computers, etc. I don’t know how you solve this problem but it’s something to think about.

  4. The provision of a living wage for civil servants adequate enough to deter corruption versus the disparities between Liberian civil servants and the senators , representatives, Judges, and the President and Vice President of Liberia when compared proportionately to the US government which gives more than 60% of Liberian government aid and grants must be addressed .

    Stop the ad hoc lecture about budget reallocation until you do a budget analysis similar to a county like Hennepin County of Minneapolis Minnesota and proportionately match the capital expenditure for roads and bridges, health, library, versus law enforcement , Civil servants, and municipal bonds which ought to be a component of Capital mobilisation for public infrastructure in a fiscally sound budgetary plan.

    We must not leave out the 5 year projected plans of how this government intends to fund government plans into the future.

    This enables private capital and donor aid to synchronise with your medium term priorities.

    Anything short of this is window dressing and a joke!

  5. Mr. Reporter and Mr. Editor, YOUR CLAIM that “The Minister of Finance and Development Planning Samuel D. Tweah has disclosed that the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC)-led government does not have a ‘development agenda for the country,’ since the election of President George M. Weah” IS A DIABOLICAL MISCONSTRUSION, AN INTENTIONAL REPRESENTATION, AND A BLATANT DISTORTION.

    Mr. Reporter and Mr. Editor, when it comes to pursuing policy agenda within the realm of organizational dynamics, NEW PRESIDENTS OR NEW GOVERNMENTS do two things: (1) translate general issues and campaign proposals into concrete programmatic proposals, and (2) decide among competing priorities. And the bottomline is that such an activity is a vision or a proposal that is being excogitated, articulated, theorized, hypothecated, or devised into a vision for the country. And this is exactly what the Minister has elloquently articulated!

    Now, So, according to you Mr. Kenneth Best, or Mr. Reporter, when President Bill Clinton, during his campaign and immediately after his inaguration, informed the American people that his “PUTTING PEOPLE FIRST” program,agenda, and policy “was a proposal which had to make its way through the administration´s deliberations and legislative process” (similar wordings as Minister Tweah´s), Bill Clinton, according to your tabloid thiking, was saying ” the Democratic Party Clinton led government did not have a ‘development agenda for the country’??????

    Or better still, when President John F. Kennedy during his campaign and during his inaguration agenda announced to the world and the American public that his “Peace Corps agenda was a vision and proposal in the national agenda”; according to your yellow journalism mindset, Kennedy was saying his “government had no development agenda”?; considering the fact that proposal, vision, policy, program, or agenda, began several months after Kennedy ascended to power?!!!

    Or still further, when Kennedy´s successor, Lyndon B. Johnson, in 1964 proclaimed his Great Society and War on Poverty agenda, policy, or program, and resounded every now and then that, “it would take sometime to be traslated into reality” but he would continue to push such domestic agenda relentlessly”– a similar strategy been used by the the Coalition for Democratic Change-led (CDC) government”, President Johnson, according to your unsound reasoning, meant his “government had no development agenda for the country”?

    Look, Mr. Editor, and Mr. Reporter get this at the back of your heads: In terms of pursuing a policy agenda, or deciding an initial policy agenda, presidents or governments possess a range of options, and understanding the constraints on policy possibilities enables A NEW ADMINISTRATION to make wise choices about where to place its limited energies and resources. And this is not an overnigt phenomenon, as you childishly believe in your tabloid thinking, but absolutely a“proposal being formulated into a vision for the country,” as the Minister of Finance has rightly articulatted, but intentionally misconstrued and distorted by you! .

  6. Mr. Reporter and Mr. Editor, YOUR CLAIM that “The Minister of Finance and Development Planning Samuel D. Tweah has disclosed that the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC)-led government does not have a ‘development agenda for the country,’ since the election of President George M. Weah” IS A DIABOLICAL MISCONSTRUSION, AN INTENTIONAL MIS-REPRESENTATION, AND A BLATANT DISTORTION.

    Mr. Reporter and Mr. Editor, when it comes to pursuing policy agenda within the realm of organizational dynamics, NEW PRESIDENTS OR NEW GOVERNMENTS do two things: (1) translate general issues and campaign proposals into concrete programmatic proposals, and (2) decide among competing priorities. And the bottomline is that such an activity is a vision or a proposal that is being excogitated, articulated, theorized, hypothecated, or devised into a vision for the country. And this is exactly what the Minister has elloquently articulated!

    Now, So, according to you Mr. Kenneth Best, or Mr. Reporter, when President Bill Clinton, during his campaign and immediately after his inaguration, informed the American people that his “PUTTING PEOPLE FIRST” program,agenda, and policy “was a proposal which had to make its way through the administration´s deliberations and legislative process” (similar wordings as Minister Tweah´s), Bill Clinton, according to your tabloid thiking, was saying ” the Democratic Party Clinton led government did not have a ‘development agenda for the country’??????

    Or better still, when President John F. Kennedy during his campaign and during his inaguration agenda announced to the world and the American public that his “Peace Corps agenda was a vision and proposal in the national agenda”; according to your yellow journalism mindset, Kennedy was saying his “government had no development agenda”?; considering the fact that proposal, vision, policy, program, or agenda, began several months after Kennedy ascended to power?!!!

    Or still further, when Kennedy´s successor, Lyndon B. Johnson, in 1964 proclaimed his Great Society and War on Poverty agenda, policy, or program, and resounded every now and then that, “it would take sometime to be traslated into reality” but he would continue to push such domestic agenda relentlessly”– a similar strategy been used by the the Coalition for Democratic Change-led (CDC) government”, President Johnson, according to your unsound reasoning, meant his “government had no development agenda for the country”?

    Look, Mr. Editor, and Mr. Reporter get this at the back of your heads: In terms of pursuing a policy agenda, or deciding an initial policy agenda, presidents or governments possess a range of options, and understanding the constraints on policy possibilities enables A NEW ADMINISTRATION to make wise choices about where to place its limited energies and resources. And this is not an overnigt phenomenon, as you childishly believe in your tabloid thinking, but absolutely a“proposal being formulated into a vision for the country,” as the Minister of Finance has rightly articulatted, but intentionally misconstrued and distorted by you! .

  7. I think the minister is saying something that he can not implement. The pro-poor government as he said is unidentified, but to fool us, we can wait. This government has so many money to collect, but due to good administrator lacking the knowledge to do what we call insider’s concept, our nation will continue to be suffering for good leaders. Why should pres. Weah continues to engulf himself with economic criminals, they are now surfacing.

  8. The minister of finance and his entourage have some good intentions for the “pro-poor” government. Good idea soliciting views from the diaspora. Suggestions: the government of pro-poor needs to put into place a community reinvestment program. The community reinvestment programs ensure that banks receive necessary funding that support community businesses. The country also needs credit monitoring system to report on borrowers loan performance. Most loans must be in the form of equipment financing and startups financing. The monitoring system make sure that borrowers are accountable on how they perform on their loans product.

  9. As instructed by the Silent Majority, to be approved by this 34% President, which silence still holds, with Presidential power, presently 100-34% = 66% of registered voters, it’s control funds in the amount of 3,900,000,000 (Billions) Liberian money (or $LD) be allocated for redundant waste spending, (as redundant duals), immediately be transferred to sanitary border patrol in the purchased of three sanitizing coastal vessels (ships) and three Army Land sanitizing vehicles (tankers) to sanitize the inward land and north Atlantic sea coast in legal length within national boundaries. We record the civil wars left contamination of dead wild animals and human dead bodies which caused fruit bats, rats and for example, inward and from neighboring countries to bring into the nations contaminated EBOLA , more malaria mosquitos and other deadly diseases. This is the first option before the next development process. The inward 15 counties will include within their various budgets the same purchases to secure their borders with adjacent counties. Instead Legislatures sitting to discuss anti-constitutional issues to cause another crisis with unnecessary spending, superfluous issues, they should put on their legislative caps roll up sleeves and join the Commander in chief who will distribute assignment each week to accompany soldiers assigned to these borders and areas. For instance, Senator Prince Y. Johnson assigned to President CIC George Weah to sanitize coastal Monrovia to Buchanan; Representative Boley and Chief of Staff C. Johnson to sanitize Buchanan to Greenville; Deputy chief of staff, madam George, to accompany Advisor Dr. Fodee Kromah to sanitize costal Robertsports to Monrovia; Speaker of the House, Chambers to accompany Minister of Defense, Daniel Z. to sanitize coastal Harper to Greenville. The offshore inland boundaries 47,000 sq. miles be each sanitized by for example, senators and representatives of these counties assigned for one week each accompanied by commissioned soldiers assigned to these borders, Like Senator Sherman, Robertsport to Voinjama, V.P. Howard, with soldiers, Yekepa to Voinjama, Krahn and Gio Paramount Chiefs Yekepa to Zwedru, With soldiers to accompany Grebo chiefs and elders, Harper to Zwedru. Whatever selection this President makes by the limits of his executive selection, this cleaning of the nation is foremost in his preparation after just three months of activities to begin full 6 years just started Liberian development. There is no time for chasing the rabbit. Every Liberian must begin to be busy and leave palletics out of the Liberian future improvement, because it is the Liberian people that will pay back the debts created by this President, from the natural products of the nation if bargained and used wisely in the interest of the Liberian nation, to bring jobs and employment for a better standard of living. This is the only solution to invention, research, and production of Liberian sanitary goods and services for better trade arrangements with other nations of the world and the (WTO). This is a Mandate to this President presented by the silent majority, on behalf Liberians. Start now or get voted out sooner or later. Cleaningness is next towards Godlyness. This is pure Liberian. We must learn to pay for knowledge, goods and services and not depend on foreign nations to develop our own land because their free will force us to become again their slaves. Do not forget apartheid in South Africa. Liberian people must be told. Do not reply my box.
    Gone to silent majority.

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