Despite the long-standing bilateral relationship between Liberia and the USA, which goes as back as the 1820’s, and the country’s support for the one-China policy, there are indications that President George Weah may encourage improved ties with the European Union to get more financial and technical support.
On Monday, January 22, during his inaugural speech at the SKD Complex, President Weah said in order to change the ‘structure of the Liberian economy,’ it will require huge investments in agriculture, infrastructure, human capital, and technology.
While appreciating international development partners who have assisted Liberia over the years, President Weah thanked the United States and the People’s Republic of China, promising to support the One China Policy. He however noted that the continuous support of the European Union will be important as “we forge a new path of transformation.”
He added “China has emerged as one of Liberia’s most dependable allies… It is my hope that the Chinese-Liberian relationship will grow stronger during my tenure as President.”
Weah said without Europe, he would not be “standing here delivering this inaugural address as the 24th President of the Republic of Liberia. It was my success in European football that enabled me to give back to my beloved country.”
He said Europe will always have a special place in his heart, and, “as President, I intend to strengthen my relationship with the European community for the benefit of all Liberians.”
According to sources, Weah’s government may depend on the EU’s assistance to Liberia in agriculture and rural development.
The Liberia–EU partnership is based on three key pillars: supporting modernization and professionalization of the Ministry of Agriculture and related institutions to help them better assist farmers; promoting and developing the cooperative model of farming in Liberia; and promoting employment opportunities beyond agriculture in rural areas through rural development approaches.
In all three pillars, the EU will provide training, funding and professional assistance to the Ministry of Agriculture and other related institutions to help them become more efficient and capable of helping farmers and people in rural areas.
Furthermore, the government is also expected to seek budgetary support. “This is a way of fostering partner countries’ ownership of development policies and reforms, focusing on results for people and sustainable development,” a source told the Daily Observer.
“But before the budget support from the EU, there are five challenges which should be addressed, including, promotion of human rights and democratic values; better financial management, macroeconomic stability, inclusive growth and less corruption and fraud; sector reforms and sector service delivery; state-building in fragile states/addressing the specific challenges of small island development states (SIDS) and overseas countries and territories (OCTs); better domestic revenue mobilization and less aid dependency,” the source added.
Meanwhile, to attract international support, President Weah said: “It is my belief that the most effective way to directly impact the poor, and to narrow the gap between rich and poor, is to ensure that public resources do not end up in the pockets of Government officials. I further believe that the overwhelming mandate I received from the Liberian people is a mandate to end corruption in public service. I promise to deliver on this mandate. As officials of Government, it is time to put the interest of our people above our own selfish interests.
“It is time, to be honest with our people. Though corruption is a habit among our people, we must end it. We must pay civil servants a living wage so that corruption is not an excuse for taking what is not theirs. Those who do not refrain from enriching themselves at the expense of the people – the law will take its course. I say today that you will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.”
He added: “To the private sector, I say to you that Liberia is open for business. We want to be known as a business-friendly government. We will do all that is within our power to provide an environment that will be conducive to the conduct of honest and transparent business. We will remove unnecessary regulatory constraints that tend to impede the establishment and operation of a business in a profitable and predictable manner.”