‘This Has Been a Difficult Year’

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President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has frankly declared that 2014 has so far been a very difficult year for the people and government of Liberia as a result of the numerous problems that the country continues to experience.

The Liberian leader noted that since the turn of this year, Liberia has been going through difficult times. The country is facing a very serious budget shortfall, depreciation in the exchange rate, flooding as a result of climate change and manmade interventions. 

The sharp decline in the price of rubber has also taken a toll on the country’s economy by further upsetting the balance of trade.

Worst of all the calamities that have befallen the nation, she declared, is the spread of the deadly Ebola virus, which has already claimed the lives of more than one hundred Liberians.

Delivering her Independence Day Message at the 167th Independence ceremony at the Centennial Memorial Pavilion in Monrovia last Saturday, President Sirleaf said the Ebola virus had become a serious tragedy that continues to claim lives on a daily basis.

The Daily Observer has reliably learned that latest victim one of Liberia’s most senior medical practitioners, Dr. Sam Brisbane, the chief internist at the John Fitzgerald Kennedy (JFK) Memorial hospital.  

The Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, during its latest update on July 20, 2014,  indicated that it had recorded 224 clinical cases of EVD, including 77 laboratory confirmations and 127 fatal cases. All of these cases are from six counties —  Lofa, Montserrado, Margibi, Bomi, Bong, and Nimba Counties.

The latest information also has it that the virus is now in Grand Gedeh.

“Through the 167 years of our existence, we have come against many challenges and have overcome them,” said President Sirleaf. “This is the proud history of our country.   We lay claim to that legacy today. We will fight against this deadly Ebola virus, not by blaming each other, but by coming together to defeat it. It is real.  It kills, but it can be prevented if we move in unison to resist it,” the President confidently declared.

Although the country has faced three years of successive budget shortfalls since Minister Amara Konneh took over the Finance Ministry, this year’s seems to be the worst, as it led, in part, led to the cancellation of the Independence celebrations scheduled to take place in Sinoe and Grand Kru Counties.

Public Works Minister, Dr. Antoinette Weeks has, on several occasions, complained that the Finance Ministry was not willing to disburse funds for the construction of the Sinoe roads, which was the greatest impediment to the hosting of the celebration. The deplorable condition of the roads which government was unable to rehabilitate, Dr. Weeks said, was the reason for the cancellation.

President Sirleaf in her Independence Day Message, said, “We should have been marking this Anniversary in the southeastern counties of Sinoe and Grand Kru. However, we decided on a postponement to ensure that we are better prepared to give the best to our compatriots in Greenville and Barclayville, and the several other cities and communities, which are to benefit from the multiplying effects of hosting these celebrations.”

She further stated, “At the same time, we use this platform to remind ourselves that the celebrations are scheduled to take place in Maryland, River Gee and Grand Gedeh in 2015; and in Rivercess, in 2016.  Let us all begin the preparations for those counties right now.”

Liberian President said: “Fellow citizens, the hallmark of success of any nation is not the improvement in social and economic infrastructures; it is not in sound policies and law; it is in the love of country. This love must make us brave in times of troubles as well as compel us to reach out to each others in times of distress.”

 “We must come together as never before inspite of our political, religious and social persuasions. We must show a deep sense of nationalism. We must reach across borders and join our brothers and sisters in the other neighboring countries that are also affected to show a continuing common response,” the Liberian leader pleaded.

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