Alexander Cummings

-Cummings promises to address ‘the Liberian Irony’

Liberians are people who are proud of their country and always want to show ownership but it is an unfortunate irony that they don’t control what goes on in the country and as such they have always felt powerless and therefore frustrated. The standard bearer of the Alternative National Congress, Alexander B. Cummings, made this remark last weekend during an exclusive interview with the Daily Observer.

He was speaking in reference to country’s economy, the most powerful sector of any country, practically being controlled by foreigners. “It is unfortunate that Liberians own but don’t control their country. If you own, you must control and the only way that can apply to Liberia is getting Liberians to own the economy. I have always said that Liberians are spectators to their country’s economy, and this shouldn’t be so,” he said.

To address this unfortunate situation, Mr. Cummings declared that upon taking state power following the ensuing October 10 elections, the ANC will institute measures to decisively implement what the ANC intends to do. Upon taking state power he said the first measure would be to robustly invest in Liberian businesses. “Liberians do not have the resources, the facilities and the infrastructure to compete successfully against foreign business people who control the economy,” he said.

Cummings said Liberians love to feel like they are proprietors of their country, but they are not. “We pride ourselves and we want to control and own it, but you cannot own something you do not have,” he said. The ANC political leaders alluded to the fact that Liberia is a country where the citizens are either poor or rich, and the vast majority of Liberians are poor.

To change this status quo, Cummings noted that his government will empower, engage and vigorously monitor Liberian businesses. He added that the government also needs to enforce the Liberianization policy, “but not just that, we need to facilitate and enable Liberian businesses to grow. We will provide credit facilities to all businesses, but especially Liberian businesses.”

One segment of the economy that has the potential to grow a Liberian middle class is the import business, and Cummings noted that this is where his government would encourage Liberians to take advantage of.

“We will get Liberians engaged in the importation business, which is one of the vibrant sectors of the economy. We will provide them the money and the technical skills to get involved in this sector,” he insisted. “The import business is just basic arithmetic. We will introduce Liberians to international suppliers, so that they can actively partake in their economy.”

Apart from the foreign control of the economy, Mr Cummings also observed that what belongs to the country is benefiting a very few individuals. “Too many Liberians are suffering in the midst of abundance in their homeland, and our leaders have not been able to evenly distribute the national wealth for all to have their share,” he said.

The country’s leaders have failed to create an enabling environment for self-determination for the Liberian people, especially the young people, Mr Cummings averred.

He indicated that Liberians should believe in not just the country, but the citizenry as well. “Liberians should believe in themselves as a people. We don’t have any doubt about our abilities to change our country. Many Liberians have had many politicians promise them many things, but these promises did not come to fruition. Many do believe that our current condition is our fate, but I don’t accept that. I want us to believe in ourselves, in our country and I also want us to believe that we deserve a better Liberia; and we can and must have a better Liberia,” he declared. This will take only a good leadership to accomplish, Mr. Cummings stated.

“I have always believed that when you look around us, we Liberians are not any less smart and we don’t work any less harder than people of other African countries and people around the world. But, their countries are more developed than ours, so I want to demand more of ourselves and demand more of the people to whom we give state power.”

Infrastructure the Bedrock

The ANC standard bearer said that Liberia’s development and prosperity are hinged on the rapid improvement of its infrastructure. This will be the bedrock of anything that an ANC led government will do, he noted.

“The fastest way to fix the country’s infrastructure is to attract investors whom we can engage in Public, Private Partnerships (PPPs). We believe that by attracting investors to invest in infrastructure, Liberia will develop rapidly. This is just the fastest way to do it. At the end of the day, Liberians just want good roads. They just want to have electricity and running water in their homes every day. If we can use private money to do that and we pay over time, I think Liberians will be receptive to the idea. If we want to try to do it on our own it will just take too long.

“If one wants to build a first class hospital and you are running it on a generator, it would be a complete disaster for you because a consistent clear energy is needed to run a hospital.

“If we want to invest in agriculture substantially, which we intend to do, our farmers need vibrant road connectivity to bring their produce to the markets,” he said.

Cummings noted that infrastructure is fundamental, “because it would help adequately absorb our labor force which is beset by an unimaginable level of unemployment. All these things are related and infrastructure stands at the center or is the fulcrum of all these. We will start off with this plan right away.” He said that in the first 100 days, the ANC administration will start discussions on identifying these investors. He also said that his government will build on what is already there, adding “We will not just change things for change sake. The National Investment Commission has done a lot of work on PPPs. So we need to start with that and see what they have done, build on it and accelerate that.”

Growing the National Budget

During the first debate among presidential candidates in August, Cummings, a former executive of Coca-Cola International, said that it is possible to raise the national budget to US$2 billion. This created a lot of conversation across the country, with many saying that this is not possible. But Mr. Cummings defended his comments during the interview with the Daily Observer.

“We just have to take some concrete steps and make some tangible moves. As a priority, we will make sure our macroeconomic, monetary and administrative policies are business friendly; we will de-complicate our policies. This will help us to grow the private sector—and as a result we will create more jobs, and more taxes will be paid.

“My government will take steps effectively to reduce waste in government and redeploy resources in the productive sector. There is a lot of waste in government, among these are excessive travels, the expensive cars, and the perks. Look, the mere fact that 103 people in the National Legislature take about US$40 million of our national budget of US$600 million makes the government ineffective, especially looking at how our people are living. We can reduce how much they take and redistribute that. By definition, this will be an economic stimulus by itself. We need to take the money out of the hands of few and put it in the hands of many, it will stimulate the economy. This will help us to generate the revenue, it will grow the economy, it will grow the revenue base. Government could make more money from natural resources by reinforcing the existing agreements and implementing these to the fullest. I don’t think government gets full value of the gold and diamonds we are exporting out of this country. If we get our share value of these it would help grow our budget. These are all the things that we will do that will cumulatively grow our revenue base. I really want us to think about how we can grow our economy and not how we can keep distributing the same money. Our aspiration as a country should be how to grow our economy because it comes with enormous benefits.”

16 COMMENTS

  1. Alexander Cummings should not ruffle the feathers of Lebanese, Nigerians, Ghanaians and East Indians in Liberia. Speaking of Liberians controlling Liberia is not what the foreigners and collaborators want to hear. All the big banks and businesses are controlled by foreigners and Liberians like it that way. Liberia was the only African Country colonized by slaves and thus, the slave mentality has destroyed any ambition for development. Look at us 170 years later. We are nothing, own nothing and control nothing because our own people aka leaders have sold the country to the Lebanese, Ghanaians, Nigerians and East Indians. We are slaves in our own country. The Lebanese and Ghanaians own us.

    • Yes Benedict, but that can certainly change if you have a leader who has the political will to do so. Foreigners do not own other countries though they can invest heavily. But for the Liberia, the reason for allowing foreigners to control the economy was a national policy meant to keep the majority poor (Liebenow, 1965). Empowering the majority would have meant taking power from those in power. Tubman brought in business people from neighboring countries for that reason. That must stop. Had we even had better education and opportunities, there would have been no war. Only the nationals of a country can build it, not necessarily foreigners. The foreigners are interested in taking out their profits and our relationship should be just business – give and take, nothing else.

      I agree with every darn thing this man is saying. Tolbert was gradually getting there but he didn’t live to complete his plans for the country. The Liberianization policy he introduced was meant to start the discourse on this problem. My hope is that Alex will not be bought by multinational corporations because they are powerful. He also must look at the geopolitical impacts of some of his decisions to transform Liberia. We know some people don’t like to see progressive African leaders. (Hope you know what I mean.)
      Excellent ideas indeed, Mr. Cummings.

      • The man is not encouraging Liberia to be productive locally and get ready to export for hard currency. But instead he would like to see and encourage Liberians to engage in the import business, something that he says he will introduce to the Liberian businesses as to compete with foreign businesses engaged in that business. Let’s look at the importation of rice and how it has destroyed the local rice producers in that country . It is said that the country importation of rice is around three hundred million a year . That is some hard currency leaving the country . Now think about encouraging the Liberian business sectors to engage in import . Consider import as a form of capital flight that comes with high inflation . Either this candidate has no lay out plan for the economy or that he does not understand what the Liberian economy and market . Ghana is exporting to Liberia, Nigeria is exporting to Liberia, and the trade deficit with these countries are high . Does he understands that ? Perhaps after failing to achieve his goals on the economy, the most fearful thought is for this candidate to move in the direction of Mugabe’s Zimbabwe , calling it nationalism . But it is the Liberian people call . How ever they have two choices in making that decision based on the feel good campaign politics of this candidate . They will either sleep on the bed they make through their votes or sleep on the ground . They have that power in their hands .

    • The “slave” mentality is not the problem. The founders of Liberia put laws in place to make sure the “slave owners” could not become citizens or own land. The Liberianization policy was introduced to prevent foreigners from controlling every aspect of our economy. Yet the problems persist because of “sellouts”. It is this same sellout mentality that had some tribes willing to sell other tribal people to the Europeans for profit. This mentality is what has people fronting for foreigners in the private sector.

  2. Despite I am not a politician, but I often support this honorable ideas on the development of our poor country.
    When good people consider you the bad guy, you develop a heart to help the bad ones. You actually understand them.

    • Gift; the vast majority of Liberians are poot. Truth! However, Liberia is not a poor Country. We are blessed in many ways. We only have to recognize/realize our full potential. First of all, let’s do away with absentee LAND LORDS; and empower regional people to be producers and owners of their PRODUCTIVITIES. That’s how most successful Nations have done it.

  3. He has a clear and good vision for Liberia. In fact, he is presidential but do the Liberians know him? He is not throwing money around like others. I cried that voting in Liberia is not based on good vision, peace, and deliver-ability of economic growth. But on popularity, lies, and deceits.

  4. Liberians are good marketeers the general source of the Liberian currency. Liberia did have most if not all of these essentials of life. Liberia does have full majority control of the Present Presidential powers now at a canvassing hemisphere contested by 20 candidates. Statistics from the past Presidential election proved that the silent majority took 57% of registered voters, 9% opposition and 34% incumbent still awaiting the next count of voters and abstinence. It is good to present professional reasoning when winning or losing votes in a campaign, but the facts of the issue is that most of the people craving to lead this nation now of literate and illiterate Liberia did see Liberia’s infrastructural past and present. Little development and gross destruction. Majority of this nation cannot read and write (education as formally in English). If the right level is used to win their votes, never know who might be in full control of the Government soon. Domestic trade is the priority to fix this economy in local currency. Who benefits from foreign investments in this nation anyway? Maybe only those who seek wealth and personal gain. It is better to have have and have not yet until the economy is segmented and recovered, rather than conglomerating to purge corruption and penury into another class not ready for an underdeveloped nation in Africa. This is the first time in Liberian history a silent majority has come from all sections and sectors of the Liberian population to control its direction. How many past aspirants or tyrants ever won registered votes from each county? None. It was the founders who predicted this control in case a President emerged who did not win majority registered voters, and with an opposed boycott, the silent majority would keep control. A smooth transformation is the end result to this election.
    Gone to silent majority. Let the Liberian people know.

  5. To the Liberian voters, ,please, please, please listen to Mr. Alexander Benedict Cummings!
    He has and is presenting himself and ideas so clearly, devoid of politics, that could benefit
    the whole country. Why not give him a real chance comes October 10, 2017.

    By this time, through the frame of our history as nation, Liberians are, should and must
    be able enough to clearly see, identify and accept what will benefit them substantially. And
    that is what H.E. Alexander Benedict Cummings is. Doing the same thing over and over,
    or attaching oneself to the same old politicians over and over again will not solve our
    needs and problems as a nation. Liberians need to make a big move to do that comes
    October 10, 2017. It is my and others’ hope that, that will happen!

    • P.T; Alex Cummings is a WOLF in SHEEP clothing. He is a part of the old establishment. It’s in his GENES. That’s one thing, no one can change. A President, Alex Cummings, means the “STATUS QUO”. You judge a Presidential Candidate by the kinds of company he/she keeps. Those will be his/her INNER CYCLE. Already, the True Whig Party’s big wigs are aligning with Alex Cummings. Alex Cummings, is the the True Whig Party; with a new name, A.B.C./ANC.

  6. We continue to sit idle, complacent and satisfied with the status quo, blaming everyone but ourselves. it’s time we the young generation take control and change the dynamics of our country by deliberate and well calculated actions. ( George Weah included if he wants to be a coach of lone star.#not president).

  7. Cummings has on occasion emphasized the importance of growing the economic pie, if that can be done everyone with an interest in Liberia, Liberian’s and foreigners, would be better off, so put energy into growing the pie, rather than trying to cut it up.

    in 30 years Singapore went from being a poor country to being one of the 2 or 3 richest (per capita) in the world, the only thing stopping Liberia doing the same thing is bad policies.

    • Andy; you are comparing apples to oranges. Liberia’s situation is a lot different and complex; than that of Singapore. “A group of rich Asiatic People”, simply got together and created powerful financial institutions, to make Singapore what it is today. Singapore is a City-state of Asian Billionaires; getting richer and richer by exploiting NATURAL RESOURCES from other Nations. Do some research…

  8. Cummings, the Liberian polity or electorate is not Coco Cola plantation or Coco Cola factory. Your policy to privitize key state parastatals is simply a means via which you and your cronies shall mortgage the Liberian economy for your selfish ends. Since in fact, you and your cronies, and especially you Cummings would have, INCOGNITO, LION SHARES IN THESE STATE PARASTATALS PRIVITIZED! So, its no wonder you are promising to forgo your salary to fight corruption. Take that rap to Cocoa Cola factory. NO NATION not to talk about a small country as Liberia can control its country By privitizing the major sources of the economy as you have said you would do if God for bid you ever became President of Liberia.

  9. “Growing the economic pie” IS NOT DONE by mortgaging the country’s economy behind the ploy of privatization which is itself simply a ploy to enrich a few as has now happened in Egypt etch.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here