Business Women Count on Cummings to End ‘Hardship In Harper,’

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A business women's group in Harper throws their weight behind Cummings: "We believe in you as an experienced corporate executive and one who has love for country. You can stabilize and improve our economy, if elected president," the said.

‘If I win, my government will give you the economy you deserve,’ he responds

A group of marketers under the banner, “Concerned Business Women for Change in the Southeast,” said living in Harper has become unbearable for ordinary residents, adding, “It is hard to live in Harper.” Residents attribute the reported high cost of living in Harper and the rest of the southeastern counties primarily to the deplorable road network and the currency exchange rate between the US and Liberian dollars. The group told Alexander B. Cummings, standard bearer of the opposition Alternative National Congress (ANC), that the county’s economy is “unbearable.” 

Besides imported clothes and phones, all other commodities in Maryland County are very expensive when compared to prices in Monrovia and other parts of the country. A 25k bag of rice in Harper, the county’s political capital, is L$2, 650, with a cup sold for L$55. For a bag of cement, the price varies between US$18 to US$21. Also, a gallon of gas in Harper is L$470, while a piece of fresh or dried fish is at least L$275. The exchange rate is US$1 to L$116.

Apart from the women’s group, a group of shop owners told the Daily Observer that life in Harper is especially hard during the rainy season. The leadership of the shop owners said despite paying their yearly taxes, the bad road conditions and the cost of goods from Monrovia or from Cote d’Ivoire adds to the hike in prices. 

Mrs. Nyonplue Koon, spokesperson for the women’s group, said the high exchange rate between the US dollar and its Liberian counterpart, the mutilated Liberian dollars, as well as the fact of the two currencies operating in the Liberian market, are causing inflation on the market, which is causing “Harper to be only for the rich,” taking into consideration that most people living in Maryland are poor. 

“On behalf of marketers in the southeastern counties, we want to use this opportunity to give you our support and promise to tell our friends in other parts of the country to vote for you,” Mrs. Koon said. “We believe in you as an experienced corporate executive and one who has love for country. You can stabilize and improve our economy, if elected president. We also believe as a man of ‘talk and do,’ you will certainly do what you have promised.”

The group, comprising mostly women and a few men, want Mr. Cummings, if elected president, to review all the concession agreements the government signed on behalf of the south-easterners. They argued that all agreements the government signed regarding the southeast are not satisfactorily adhering to their social statuses. Mr. Ebenezer Koon, a local businessman and one of the advisors to the group, said their membership is inclusive and is void of tribal boundaries or religious affiliations.

“We have about 1,300 members. Our decision to support Mr. Cummings is based on his competency. But before then, we have consulted among ourselves and have arrived at a consensus. We believe he can deliver the southeast by putting the country first,” Madam Elizabeth Toe, another advisor to the group, said. “When we put you there, we want you to do what we will tell you to do,” she challenged Mr. Cummings.

Meanwhile, Mrs. Teresa Cummings happily hugged every woman and shook the hands of the men, before her husband, Mr. Cummings, took the stage. Cummings’ message remains consistently clear: “We must believe in ourselves, in Liberia and work together to vote for different leadership to bring the kind of change we want. If we are elected, we can address the shortcomings of the country and make it better,” he told the gathering. “If the choices we have made are not working, we must change, or we will only see more of the same high rate of US dollars, bad roads and expensive commodities on the market. I promise that if I am elected president, I will work harder than anyone else to create real change, the change you can trust.” He added: “I can give Liberians the Liberia they deserve, if I am elected your president.”

Cummings (left) with Sulunteh in Harper: “We must ensure Liberian women, youth and those physically challenged individuals are as fully engaged in our economic community as all other Liberians.”

He promised not be like any of the country’s past leaders, noting: “My government will give you the economy you deserve. If you help me to campaign and l win, our country will prosper. We will ensure we have Infrastructure: It is the key to providing quality healthcare, education, jobs, and food security. We can also strengthen our private sector by privatizing infrastructure development, and attracting foreign investment. We will develop reliable electricity, running water and roads, we will create jobs for millions of Liberians, and most of all, provide everyday Liberians with a better quality of life,” Cummings maintained. He recalled how unemployment and job insecurity in the country are widespread.

And because of that, he continued: “We will also empower our people by creating job opportunities, providing them with skills training and development, and attracting investors, who will create highly labor-intensive industries that provide a high number of low skill jobs our people can fill.” On civil servants’ salary increment, Cummings promised not to take his salary, and will also slice the salaries of members of the Legislature, increase the salaries of teachers, health workers and other civil servants. “We will also develop and implement creative legislation and policies that will strengthen and protect women’s economic empowerment.”

As a way to further expand the economy, Mr. Cummings said he intends to begin by transforming Liberia into an inclusive economy for the country to be self sufficient. “We must ensure Liberian women, youth and those physically challenged individuals are as fully engaged in our economic community as all other Liberians.”

On corruption, the ANC leader stated that if any of his administration’s policies are to work, government and its officials must first be held accountable. “To address corruption, we will create a special anti-corruption court, support and appropriately resource already established integrity institutions and establish the enforcement mechanisms to hold corrupt officials to account. We will identify the positions where individuals are most likely to engage in corruption, and publicize them so that identifying corruption is a public engagement. Lastly, we will prosecute all officials suspected of corruption; we will seize assets and jail all those found guilty. No exceptions!”

Cummings pledged that there will be a balanced distribution of government spending under his watch, especially in terms of officials’ compensation. Shortly after the Saturday launch in Harper, Mr. Cummings visited Pleebo, Maryland County’s commercial hub, on Sunday; and on Monday, he went to Karluway – a short distance from Pleebo. He also visited Gbeyken – his home town. There were elaborate “war dances” aptly called ‘Mr. President,’ which characterized the Cummings visit. 

2 COMMENTS

  1. An anthropologist once said, “Civilization is restless, greedy—it always wants more of what it does not have. Longing propels us into uncharted territories; we go willingly and yet come to resent the journeys we have embarked on.”

    The failure of the Unity Party government was partly due to President Ellen Johnson’s government inability to see that Liberia has indeed changed over the last 30 years.

    The war destroyed the moral fabric (unity) that once held Liberians together: Today, Our unemployed youths are restless; people living in other counties are demanding decentralization; Liberian politicians are grossly corrupt and greedy; always demanding more money: the pay to play mentality.

    Their political ambitions are not in the interest of national service but to use government facilities for personal aggrandizement. There is a sense of entitlement among politicians of the hierarchy in Liberia that believed they are above the law. Such push and pull put stress on the failed policies of the UNITY PARTY GOVERNMENT!

    Over thirty years, our entire nation has yet to recover from the psychological trauma of war: Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD): FROM: Killings, raping, stealing, lawlessness, lying, sexual promiscuity, tribalism, divisiveness, and so on) that destroyed the moral fabric of our nation. These are some of the reasons why our people in the neglected counties are desperate for a “savior”.

    Not until these “fly-by-night”, “Boakai-stay-too-long”, and “Johnny-just-come” politicians running for political office developed concrete plans to deal with these psychological wounds, and the vast economic inequalities in Liberia, I guarantee that no army, no police, nor government can deter the will of such madness (disorderliness, lawlessness) that is rampant in Liberia today.

    We do not only have incompetent leadership problem in Liberia; Liberia has a systemic problem of disunity and national identity that are cancerous to national development. Our dysfunctional system is preventing physical reconstruction to go hand-in-hand with economic and moral reconstruction.

    This is a tough order for any politician who wants to be president: to put “HUMPTY DUMPTY…. LIBERIA….. BACK TOGETHER AGAIN”! Good Luck Mr. Cummings; Good Luck Mr. V.P. Boakai; Good Luck Mr. Jones, Good Luck Mr. George Weah, and Good Luck to all those running for President of Liberia.

    As they say, “Pray the devils back to Hell” in Liberia!!!! “In Union Strong Success Is Sure.” God Bless Liberia!

  2. “Mr. Kromah, are you from Maryland County.” Mr. Nandan Gadgil, President of Western India Industries, Ltd asked me in August 1989 when I was First Secretary and Consul at the Embassy of Liberia in New Delhi, India. “Have you ever been to Maryland or Harper? He followed up. I again said no, I have never visited. He again asked me: Why are you so bent on advocating for the reopening of LIBSUCO by our company at the cost of nearly US$35 million? I told him that most of the concessions in that area were agricultural base, Firestone, Decoris Oil Palm, Libsuco, and they were all closing down, and consequently imposing extreme hardship on the population with the concomitant negative coat-tail affect on relatives in Monrovia not to mention reducing Harper to sustained urban decay. He was convinced by the logic of my argument and the possibility of huge returns on his investment. He said that everybody else he talked with wanted the project in the home counties. He also said that the best place to grow sugar cane was not where the LIBSUCO facility, but Up River – Virginia, White Plains, Brewerville,areas.

    He dispatched a team to Maryland to conduct a feasibility study on the viability of his proposal to revitalize the plant, produce liquid sugar and convert same to gasohol as it is done in Brazil to be used in vehicles and reduce dependence on gasoline which was increasing in cost even to oil producing countries.

    His team produced eight binders which they presented to the GOL; he informed me upon his return from Liberia (very discouraged) where he was given cold shoulders not only at the Concession Secretariat, but the Ministry of Agriculture. “Nandan, who did you expect to read eight binders of technical data? The Government lawyers, technical staff, legislators or President Doe? I asked him! He asked what could he do? Reduce these volumes to a 25 minutes VHS video. Take the tape to Glay and Slanger Consultants in the Pan African Plaza. Let them watch it and take it to President Doe. President will be so impressed, he call Minister Shaw and order him to get the Ministry of Agriculture involved and the agreement be signed. He did as he was advised.

    Nandan returned to New Delhi, called me and said that he needed to see me at the Hyatt Regency Hotel. Upon my arrival at the hotel’s executive lounge, he took a sheet of paper from his pocket; actually a letter on the Finance Ministry Letter Head bearing the signature of Minister Emmanuel Shaw awarding him the contract to revitalize Libsuco. I congratulate him
    and offered to buy him champagne for a toast.

    He told me not so fast, because he had something to tell me. I asked him what? He said, am here to offer you a job. What job, I already have a job. He said “I am aware. but I need you to be our country manager.” “Now lets take care of some housekeeping business.” He pulled out a neatly printed sheet from his pocket containing figures. He said, “This is the budget for your office.” He said that I was at Liberty to employ every office staff/executives except my deputy who would be an Indian. He also asked me to select the Bankers, Lawyers, etc.

    Naturally, the Law Firm of Choice was Jallah & Smith and the Bankers were LBDI, because the heads were very good and personal friends that had integrity. I alerted one pf my equally very competent friends as marketing manager, Mr. Pete Norman who was at NIC.

    Nandan told me to travel by way of London to spent a few days at his Office there to get a feel of their operations, and receive funds to purchase one Mercedes and a BMW for my use in Monrovia and a Pajero Jeep to be stationed in Harper.

    He added that knowing my aversion to corruption, he will use either the lawyers or intermediaries to give political gratuities. We agreed and I took leave of Ambassador Kolaco who was left alone to close the Mission with the help of Minister Kiawu (RIP) who had gone to review the books and close the Mission.

    I always tease Pete Norman that thanks to Charles Taylor, we I became Paul Coffee, but we are not dead. Hopefully, we will live to see those agro-industries in Maryland resurrected, and Harper booming again. Additionally, every girl that I have had a strong attraction is from Cape Palmas. Even God knew how not to mess with the people from Maryland.

    CAPE PALMAS SHALL RISE AGAIN, BUT AM AFRAID TO PUT ANYBODY AT THE HELM OF STATE FROM THERE BECAUSE THE PERSON MAY WANT TO STAY FOR 27 YEARS.

    PS: INTERESTINGLY, ALL THE PEOPLE MENTIONED HEREIN ARE STILL AND CAN BE CONTACTED TO VERIFY, except Minister Kiawu.

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