In the midst of the current economic challenges facing the country, three opposition collaborating parties over the weekend called on President George Weah of the ruling Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) to eliminate monopolies, implement land reform, adopt smart growth inducing tax policies, maintain sound fiscal discipline and enhance environment for exports/import substitution, creating a food safety inspection unit along with relevant regulations, so that farmers’ produce can meet standards for export to European and other markets that would balance the Liberian dollar against the United States currency.
The opposition collaborating parties are former ruling Unity Party (UP), Alternative National Congress (ANC), and Liberty Party (LP).
The parties said the country’s economy can only move forward if the government would enhance the establishment of industrial parks in coastal cities such as Buchanan and Harper, with built-in advantages such as sea ports and easy road access to airports and Monrovia; improve the value chain for key agricultural products such as rice; and implement reforms that would make it easier to move goods in and out of the ports.
The parties’ pronouncement was contained in a statement delivered at a press conference in Monrovia, read by ANC political leader Alexander B. Cummings, on behalf of the three political parties in response to President Weah’s statement on the country’s economy.
Mr. Cummings said what they got from the President’s statement on the nation’s economy was generally bad and it means a lot to ordinary Liberians whose pockets are tough.
“The President told us that since he assumed office in January 2018, the Liberian dollar has depreciated by 25 percent. He further explained that this depreciation in the value of the Liberian dollar has increased inflation by 4 percentage points to 21 percent, from 17 percent back in February 2018,” Cummings said.
“They must now pay 25 percent more for everything they consume. That means since the President took office, food items that cost L$100 now cost L$125. School fees that were $4,000 LD now stand at L$5,000,” ANC political leader said.
Mr. Cummings further explained that the current status of the economy is a serious problem that requires quick policy responses but, unfortunately for Liberians, the President did not provide serious and detailed plans for “the structural transformation of the Liberian economy” that are necessary to solve the problem.
“Instead, as the President himself admitted, all he offered us are ‘short term-fixes’ and a promise to release a long term development strategy that he says is only now ‘nearing completion.’ Given the immensity of the economic challenges we face as a country, it is certainly our hope that the President’s long term strategy was now available for robust public debate and implementation.”
Mr. Cummings said the three political parties are looking forward to engaging the President and his administration on their plan, whenever it is released, and will offer their ideas and thoughts to make it more responsive to the challenges the nation faces.
“As an opposition, we are not only focusing on criticism; we will also provide a way forward for the betterment of the nation,” he said.