Big Government Is Not the Answer to Fixing Liberia

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By Jones Nhinson Williams

Liberia has serious problems – without citing the universally known data about poverty, hunger, unemployment, poor healthcare and the deplorable education systems that persist in the Liberian society, we can all agree that Liberia is an abating state.  These problems are not the creation of today even though a lot more imposed conditionality are new and are an addition to the already chronic problems the country inherited.

To solve Liberia’s current problem does not require having a big government.  It also does not require having quantity of manpower especially in the age of information technology when information and technology economics make working smart much easier and desirable.

Like most African and developing countries, one of the single largest problems Liberia has is the size of its government. The Liberian government is too big.  Instead of focusing on enlarging the private sector, Liberia is bent on increasing the size of its government.

This is contradictory to smart and effective governance and contemporary labor economics; it is also incongruous to public philosophy’s view of sound governance because the role of government is not to create revenue sucking jobs.  Rather, its role is to facilitate job creation that facilitate revenue for government and enhance economic growth.  Besides, government generally only provides about 10% of jobs in normal functioning societies, including western societies.

For example, the private sector provides around 90% of employment in the developing world (including formal and informal jobs), delivers critical goods and services and contributes to tax revenues and the efficient flow of capital in homes, in business and for governments that champion private sector expansion.

Moreover, the private sector is an actor in integrated development, which drives sustainable economic growth by bringing with it opportunities in job, wealth and value creation. When a nation does well in achieving sustainable development it improves the environment for doing business and building markets.

So why is the Liberian government having too many commissions and agencies that add no value to the country’s sustainable development and economic growth, especially when the key actors in many of these agencies and commissions lack innovation, the vision and strategy to add needed value?

It is important that the President and his key advisors focus more on the private sector.  They also need to reduce the size of the Liberian government. The legislature must assist in this process.  Not every institution needs to be governmental in nature.  Besides, instead of being an obstacle and discouragement to individuals that want to innovate the private sector, the Liberian government must be in the business of encouraging competition and wholeheartedly supporting Liberians who want to promote the private sector.

In any country, the undertakings of the private sector offer characteristics that the government does not have.  These include (a) Private Ownership and Control, (b) Profit Motive, (c) No State Participation, (d) Private Finance, and (e) Independent Management.

On the other hand, big government with many undefined and rumbling agencies and commissions is counterproductive to effectiveness and efficiency.  It is a good thing to recruit manpower for government functionaries, but it is best to recruit quality rather than quantity.

In his March 18, 2018’s CNS News commentary entitled the “7 Adverse Consequences of Big Government” Daniel Mitchell summarized Dennis Prager’s video regarding ‘Big Government’ by saying that big government means more corruption, less liberty, fiscal crisis, punitive taxation, unsustainable debt, totalitarianism, and dependency. The last one is more true because it seems Liberia depends more on international development support and relief assistance than what it generates internally.  This is not productive.  At some point Liberia should be able to exert its sovereignty in economic terms.

 About the Author:

J.N. Williams is a Catholic educated public philosopher and a U. S. trained public policy, institutional governance and applied development professional with strong expertise in job creation policy, workforce development analysis, and socio-economic growth and development. He can be reached at [email protected]

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