“My administration will reduce the number of ministries and agencies,” he says
Simeon Freeman, the political leader of the opposition Movement for Progressive Change (MPC), has been saying it since he first ran for president of Liberia in 2011: that, if elected, he would reduce the current size of the Liberian government from 82 to 22 ministries and agencies.
Mr. Freeman reiterated his promise recently at the second regionalized presidential debate organized by Liberia Media for Democratic Initiatives and the Public Trust Media Group in Tubmanburg, Bomi County.
He said government was spending over US$240 million annually on its workforce, because the ministries and agencies are overlapping the functions assigned to the other.
Freeman said his idea to slice government ministries and agencies would enable his proposed administration to save significant amounts of money, which he intends to redeploy to empower the private sector.
The President of Liberia cannot close down a ministry unilaterally; the decision requires a legislative procedure. For any ministry of government to be closed down, the President would need to communicate said desire to the Legislature, whose prerogative it would be to determine whether or not to endorse the President’s request. This will include the implications of how much it would cost the government to provide severance package for hundreds, if not thousands of civil servants affected by the closures.
The MPC standard bearer said he would set up 30 private agricultural companies in the 15 counties to empower Liberian farmers. The companies, Freeman said, would intervene in the agriculture sector by providing implements and equipments, free of charge, to make the sector viable.
Freeman noted that the companies would also add value to farmers’ products for export.
He promised to direct some of government’s revenues to set up 200 factories, including corn oil producing plants.
The factories, he said, would help to provide employment for 100,000 Liberians in his first 100 days in office.
“Liberians don’t need college education or high school certificates to work in factories, but practical knowledge and commitment,” Freeman stated.
He said Liberia has had bad leaders, “because of the criteria the citizens have set to elect a president, senators, and representatives.”
He noted that many candidates have promised to develop the country, but have not said where they would get the money from to do so.
Freeman said Liberians are not considering that it would be difficult to borrow money for Liberia from any international partner in the new government, “because the country is already indebted to multi-national firms.”
Freeman claimed that under the President Johnson Sirleaf administration, 20 percent of Liberia’s forests have been cleared and shipped out of the country, in good faith, “but only that citizens are yet to feel the impact.”
If elected in October, Freeman said he would use his expertise to mobilize money domestically, but did not say how he was going to achieve that objective.