Is Liberia Broke?

3
2949

House summons CBL, LRA, Finance Ministry to know the “Balance in National Coffers”

The announcement by President George M. Weah that ‘the economy is broken, and the government is broke,’ contrary to declarations by his predecessor, Madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf who maintained that her administration left over US$150 million in the national coffers, has compelled members of the House of Representatives to vote to summon three public financial institutions to appear before it to clarify the confusion.

The Plenary, the highest decision making body of the House of Representatives, in a unanimous vote, summoned the Central Bank of Liberia (CBL), the Liberia Revenue Authority (LRA) and the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning (MFDP) to appear on Thursday, March 1, in the House’s Chamber at 10:00 a.m.

The three public institutions are invited to explain the “Controversial US$150 million which the Ellen Johnson-Government’s administration left in the coffers, and the announcement by  President Weah that the country is broke.”

This is the first time for the Lower House to invite any of the three public institutions since the inception of the House of Representatives of the 54th Legislature.

The House’s decision followed a letter from Montserrado County District # 16 Representative Dixon W. Seeboe.

“I write to bring to the attention of this House the statements made by President George Weah during the State of the Nation address that the country’s economy is broken and the country is broke, and that our former President Madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf in a BBC interview claimed that she left more than US$150m in the nation’s coffers,” Rep. Dixon wrote.

His letter added: “These two statements leave more questions unanswered. Was the president properly briefed on the state of the economy? Are there hidden funds that were not reported? Were the former president’s remarks not guided by facts? If we have this much money readily available, the urgent needs of civil servants must be handled immediately to enhance the smooth running of the government.”

It may be recalled that on January 22, President George Weah, delivering his first Legislative agenda to the 54th Legislature in the Joint Chambers of the Capitol Building, disclosed that the country’s economy is broken and by extension the government.

“This is plain to see for we are all affected by it: our economy is broken, our government is broke, our currency is in free fall, inflation is rising and unemployment is at unprecedented high, and our foreign reserve is at an all-time low,” Weah stated.

Many believe that the full disclosure by the administration on the “State of the Economy” is very important in building public trust about how and where the so-called pro-poor government intends to take the country.

On the other hand, according to a former official (name withheld) withholding such information feeds the rumor mill  with pessimists painting a gloomy picture about the nation’s finances.

President Weah reported that total revenues collected in the calendar year of 2017 amounted to US$489.1 million, which is a 13 percent decline over revenue collected in 2016, which was 565.1 million, but asserted, “I cannot vouch for the accuracy or completeness of this information in the absence of verification by a full and proper audit conducted by a competent authority.”

But, 21 days later, on Tuesday, February 13 on a BBC program, former President Sirleaf differed with President Weah, arguing that the coffers are not totally empty, as the new administration seems to imply.

3 COMMENTS

  1. In relative terms, the government of Liberia is indeed ‘broke’.

    Here in the UK, a typical large local town hospital has an annual budget that is more than Liberia’s annual budget for the whole country.

    E.g. the Sussex County Hospital (in UK) had an annual budget (for the year 2017) of £574 million GBP…. or putting that in USD terms, that’s $798 million USD… and that’s just ONE hospital, in ONE UK town, and it’s nothing out of the ordinary!

    Now contrast that with Liberia, which has a budget for the whole country that is only ⅔ of the budget of a typical UK hospital.

    Now do you get the picture of how dire is the position ?!

  2. Assuming that this comment might get deleted quickly, I made the effort nevertheless.
    Naturally, a country cannot be broke, it always has value—unless it’s completely destroyed by war time. But even then, generally speaking, it’s always only a matter of time, before external forces find new interest that re-establish particular new values for them. On the flip side, the question is rather—what is the value and benefit for the citizens of that country?
    Come on guys, you all know, that a country like Liberia, which has at least a few resources across different industry sectors, cannot go broke. If corrupt government officials bleed the country for a certain period of time, any new government coming, could theoretically turn the tide in an instant.
    In other words, stating that the country is broke, is both, completely unprofessional and highly counterproductive.
    So, if Pres. Weah had good intentions—in order to jump start the economy, long before he would have taken office, he would have prepared himself as follows:
    –he would have gathered a team of trustworthy legal, financial and economic experts that would have helped him to start with a clean slate, across all industry sectors, e.g., agriculture, finance, forestry, fishery, mining etc.
    –most importantly, he would have prepared a concept for a reform in the educational sector contrary to the privatization efforts undertaken by the Sirleaf administration.
    –he would have renegotiated (because the review should have been done before taking office) all Foreign direct investment (FDI) contracts.
    –he would have executed a scheme to allow small to medium sized businesses to emerge from the rubble
    –he would have ordered to print money and issue coins
    –he would have provided instant cash for the poorest
    Anybody heard of or remember the social transfer program that took place in Bomi?

    https://www.unicef.org/liberia/Transformative_Transfers_LiberiaCashTransferProgramme.pdf

    https://www.unicef.org/liberia/SCT_Evaluation_Full_Report_Final.pdf

    in that sense, understand:
    any person managing to receive refugee status in a “developed” country—like, for instance, what all these fake refugees from Syria are doing in Germany by invitation—is exactly that…tapping into the bottomless social fund of the German Government that prints billions out of thin air on a daily basis…which, as another reminder, is exactly what the US is doing since the establishment of the criminal organization called Federal Reserve Bank, in 1913.
    What’s Pres. Weah (and sadly, most African leaders) doing instead? He’s giving some lip service dubbed inauguration speech and travels to other broke countries like France, allegedly begging for money, when he should be at home cleaning house.

Leave a Reply