After careful examination of the country’s economic problems, Rev. Torli H. Krua, founder of Universal Human Rights International (UHRI) of Boston, Massachusetts, in the United States, has said that Liberia’s economic problems can be solved with the efforts of Liberians and their international partners.
In a release, Krua said there are three important factors that must be considered by all stakeholders, namely: the excessive salaries and benefits of politicians and other top government officials; the non-involvement of the Liberian Diaspora in developing the private sector; and voters’ motivation and registration for complete change.
He said the lack of participation of Liberian citizens in deciding salaries and benefits of politicians demonstrates a broken governance system.
Rev. Krua is in the country with Mr. Benjamin Swan, former member of the United States House of Representatives.
Rev. Krua said the high taxes and tariffs in the country are only symptoms, adding: “One of Liberia’s real problems is the fact that our people as masters of democracy have no input in determining the salaries and benefits of those who aim to serve the public.”
Without the people’s input, he said, public service becomes the avenue for politicians to enrich themselves, to the detriment of the republic.
Democracy is not mere elections because the people have a right to demand fair remuneration for those who seek to serve them, he said.
He came to that conclusion after tackling the root cause of Liberia’s economic crisis through consultative meetings with Liberians in the Diaspora and a cross section of their family members during his recent tour of five counties in Liberia, Rev. Krua said.
“We heard from many citizens that the widening gap between wealthy politicians and poor citizens is making many Liberians less likely to register to vote in the upcoming election season,” Rev. Krua said.
He said 300 million ECOWAS citizens benefit from visa waivers, but Liberians in the Diaspora who want to get involved to develop the private sector have not been prioritized “beyond words.”
For the past 11 years, he said, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has underscored the importance of the role the Liberian Diaspora plays in Liberia’s recovery.
Although she has called for ‘Dual Citizenship’ for the Liberian Diaspora, Krua said she has not used the tool of Executive Order to grant visa waivers to welcome Liberians forced into exile back to the country.
With the talk of ‘Dual Citizenship,’ there remains deep distrust and discontent among ordinary Liberians who lack access to visas for America, Europe and Australia, he said.
Still, he continued, Liberia’s doors remain shut to tens of thousands of refugees forced into exile because of the civil war, and “consular services are non-existent or poor in many places overseas. Meanwhile, because of ECOWAS, over 300 million ECOWAS citizens come to Liberia for business purposes.”
He added that “since Liberia opens its doors to 300 million ECOWAS citizens, it surely must open its doors to thousands of Liberian Diaspora because the right of refugees to return is international law.