Says fighting graft is the only way out
Liberia is yet to attain economic prosperity and infrastructural development because of years of bad governance and massive corruption that often go with the culture of impunity, according to Margibi County Senator Oscar Cooper. An independent presidential candidate in the October 10 elections under the Oscar Cooper Xperience (OCX), the Margibi Senator noted that the country is endowed with numerous resources that would help empower and improve the living condition of its citizens, but the selfishness of past and present leaders to have all to themselves has been the “real problem.” “The leadership of our country, especially the current administration, has been wicked to the citizenry. This administration’s inability to fight graft is responsible for the woeful condition of the Liberian people,” he said.
Speaking during an interview on Wednesday in Paynesville, the tough talking lawmaker indicated that “If we as a country must overcome the poor state of our economy and place our country on the right trajectory for development, our next President must possess the political will to prosecute those involved in corrupt acts that are responsible for leading the country to its current condition.” The Margibi Senator, who has won the admiration of many Liberians because of his advocacy for the reduction of their (Senators’) salaries, said wasteful spending in government is one of the factors affecting the progress of Liberia’s economy. He said it is time that the country elects a leader that will fight, defend, protect and stand for the rights of the people, and not anyone who lacks the political will to prosecute corrupt officials. “If Liberians want to fight corruption and take ownership of their economy, it’s about time that they elect the Oscar Cooper Xperience to take the country from its nightmare of deficit leadership,” he stressed.
He promised that under his government, Liberians will take ownership of their own economy, starting with funds in the national budget for goods and services to be awarded to Liberians. “Priority will be given to Liberians in regard to Import Permit Declaration (IPD). We will encourage Liberians to take advantage of the policy,” he added. He said that if elected as president his first Executive Order will be the reduction of the salaries and benefits of the president, vice president, all heads of public corporations and executive government agencies. According to Cooper, the savings realized from these deductions will be appropriated in the national budget towards education, health, security, and affordable housing, among other social services. He wants salaries and benefits of high ranking executives not to exceed more than U$5,000 or its equivalent in Liberian dollars. According to him, Liberia is a nation that is struggling to improve its national budget; therefore, she shouldn’t be spending millions of tax payers’ money on few individuals and leaving the vast majority in poverty. “As for the two other branches of government, which includes the legislature and the judiciary, I would wish that the power of the people will persuade and encourage them to follow suit if they mean well for Liberia,” he added.
He further disclosed that his second Executive Order will be enforcing the usage of one currency (Liberian dollar) and the control of prices will be seriously considered and handled. “We’ll build vocational and technical youth camps in and outside of every major capital that will build the capacity of our young people in order to be as marketable as their foreign counterparts. Any nation without a strong labor or workforce can never encourage investors; therefore, if Liberia must encourage more investors its workforce needs to be competent and qualified, and that is among some of our many plans for Liberia,” he stressed. Senator Cooper said in order to enforce the rule of law and discourage corruption under his presidency; there will be no interference from the president in the affairs of the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC), the General Auditing Commission (GAC), and the Public Procurement Concession Committee (PPCC) while executing their duties. He added that funds retrieved from corrupt government officials would be used in the budget towards tangible issues to positively impact the lives of the citizens. He said he would pledge his government’s commitment to improving the agricultural sector through mechanized farming, assisting local farmers with technical and capacity needs through the use of innovative financing mechanisms.
He said in order for Liberia to be developed, the leadership must participate in the development of the country, with specific focus on rural communities. He noted that Monrovia is not Liberia; as such his government will connect the entire country with paved roads. “We will focus on developing the country starting from the Ivory Coast, Guinea, and Sierra Leone borders,” he said. “With that, our citizens in the rural communities will have access to their market and farm roads in transporting their goods and services thereby contributing to the economy more efficiently.”