Vice President Joseph Nyuma Boakai has disclosed that roads, agriculture, women’s empowerment, education, and economic development will be among several key priorities, if he is elected President in October.
Addressing journalists recently on a wide range of issues related to the Presidential and Legislative elections, he said road connectivity is key in Liberia because the lack thereof has made it difficult to implement development programs in the country.
“Interconnectivity of the nation has a positive trickle-down effect on education, health, agriculture and other vital sectors of the economy,” he said.
VP Boakai explained that unless road interconnectivity is improved and rural communities are “opened up,” it will be difficult to reach the people, and even more difficult to implement development programs.
He said Liberia’s problem has been “centralizing everything in Monrovia,” when Monrovia is not Liberia; and therefore, “we need to open up the country and reach the farmers, for example.”
He said, “With feeder roads farmers will have access to the markets for their produce and they will be in the position to generate money from their activities and ventures.”
According to him, when citizens are not in the position to pay their taxes, they feel disenfranchised, adding: “if people are earning from their produce, they will pay taxes.”
He recalled the days when Liberian farmers walked to showrooms and bought their own vehicles and farm implements, and said “with the right approach to food security this can happen again.”
Commenting on what he called “comparative advantage,” the standard bearer of the Unity Party said he sees Liberia as an agricultural country and that communities should be empowered to do what they know best, adding, “I do not believe in the notion that people are lazy because they do not produce rice.”
“There are counties that have fishing communities and they should be empowered to supply fish to the rest of the country. Cassava producing counties should be given the appropriate technology to process the tuber for local and possible foreign markets, and these farmers need the technology.”
Vice President Boakai said government revenue, which will be regulated, will gradually increase as a result of his suggestions.
He indicated that there is a lot of illicit mining going on in the country “but we cannot get there because of lack of roads, therefore the government cannot account for serious money being made in that sector, and there is the need to regulate the mining sector.”
The Vice President spoke about the need to transform Liberia’s socio-economic environment to make it more profitable for all and to improve the people’s living condition.
He said Liberia is a rich nation with the potential to rely on itself, and recalled that when he served as Managing Director of the Liberia Produce Marketing Corporation (LPMC), the agriculture sector had a turnover of over US$50 million in the 1970s.
Then, he said, only thirty percent of the rice that the nation consumed was imported.