After weeks of shadow boxing (shortcoming, failing), President George Weah has now admitted to the fact that the country’s economy is not doing well and that Liberians who had expected better living conditions before he came to power are suffering from the high cost of living.
In a cabinet retreat yesterday in Kakata, Margibi County, the President admitted: “Time is not in our favor; therefore it is necessary that we double up to meet the growing demands of our people.”
Although he did not explain what he meant by the “growing demands of our people,” many Liberians have understood this to mean high cost of living coupled with unemployment and lack of accountability in government.
A recent survey by NAYMOTE suggests that 64% of Liberians perceived that the Weah administration was leading the country in the wrong direction, especially when it came to fighting corruption. The survey rated the Weah administration’s performance in handling the economy, job creation, improving living standard of Liberians and improving health services as poor. Keeping prices stable and fighting corruption was graded as very poor.
“Look at the transportation issue,” said a distraught mother of four, “every taxi driver has his own fare. And we are supposed to have a government in this country.”
According to an Executive Mansion release, President Weah admitted to the country’s difficulties and was apparently sharing the young woman’s concern.
President Weah’s answer yesterday was a straightforward admonition to his cabinet ministers as he encouraged them to double up in order to tackle their various responsibilities. Though he did not elaborate further, many Liberians wondered if the GoL has again pumped in some money to strengthen the economy.
“In a pro-poor government where the president announced that the country is broke,” said a student from the University of Liberia, “what will the ministers do to solve the difficulties that the president spoke about?”
According to the Executive Mansion release, the cabinet convened the special brainstorming session to take stock of pending development initiatives and challenges as well as to explore methods and strategies that would hasten the delivery of critical government services to the much-expectant Liberian populace.
Although President Weah described a previous cabinet retreat as “successful,” he however cautioned members of his administration to do their best because “time is not in our favor.” Like the idea about the much heralded pro-poor agenda, President Weah’s meaning was directed to his cabinet ministers and how far they could return to work to fulfill what the people want.
About two weeks ago, during a special cabinet meeting in Gbarnga, Bong County, the President admonished his cabinet members to fast-track efforts in the interest of the Liberian people, stating that, “Time is of the essence.” But what has the President’s officials done in response to his call in Gbarnga?
“I am not sure there is much that the ministers could do to fulfill repeated calls to respond to the expectations of the people; after all, this country is still broke, right?” a student from the UMU said when she was interviewed for this story.
Admitting to the challenges, President Weah admitted that, “Our government was inaugurated just in January, and now we are talking about one year. The Pro-Poor Agenda needs to be achieved, and the only way to achieve this is to keep checking on the gains we have made and how we can overcome the challenges on the way.”
But what are the gains so far? To answer that question, President Weah once again settled on what he described as “the need for more cohesiveness and effective coordination among cabinet members.” This, he said, is indispensable to the expeditious “achievement of the Pro-poor Agenda for Prosperity and Development.”
In the end, President Weah thanked the cabinet for their “resilience and courage in progressively delivering upon government’s promises to the people of Liberia.”
Another student told the Daily Observer, “Are you kidding me? Which one of the cabinet ministers was resilient and courageous with their confused statements about L$16 billion that allegedly went missing? And where did any of them ‘progressively deliver upon government’s promises to the people?'”
“The people are crying about the cost of gasoline in the interior, which is about L$1,200 in Ganta and L$1,500 in Buutuo,” said James Gontee in a telephone conversation yesterday. Gontee is a frequent traveler to Nimba County.
The Cabinet session was also meant to develop an effective framework and common approach, which in the next two months would elapse the government’s one year in power, and would see accelerated actions from every ministry and agency in meeting their respective deliverables consistent with the PAPD in a country that is “broke”, something which the president was not ashamed to announce to the people.