By Jeremiah Jefferson Kringar Harris, Sr.
George Weah’s New Dispensation officially began to take hold on inauguration day, January 22, 2018, at the SKD SPORTS COMPLEX, in a ceremony befitting the overwhelming mandate given him by the masses. The turnout was stupendous, with the largest crowd to ever witness the inaugural of a Liberian leader, a clear manifestation that this government belongs to the people. This, of course, reveals the high hopes of the vast majority of our people that they would have no recourse to regret their decision to embrace Weah’s candidacy with the euphoria that they displayed throughout the campaign; this swept Weah to victory in a massive tsunami that clearly reflected the people’s will. Following this overwhelming mandate, George Weah pledged that his government would be committed to a Pro Poor Agenda.
At this point, the players key to the crafting and successful implementation of the government’s Pro Poor policy are now in place at the Ministries of Finance, Commerce, Labor, Foreign Affairs and the rudiments of the Pro Poor Agenda have now begun to take shape . As would be expected, the National Budget inherited from the Unity Party Government has been duly recast to reflect the priorities of the agenda. This signifies Weah’s determination to keep his word. All things being equal, this is a good sign.
The skeptics, as always, seem to wonder what this Pro Poor Policy entails. Is it simply a novel ideology that has not yet been tested? If so, is it practical enough that it could be implemented with the zeal and commitment that would fundamentally recast the lot of our downtrodden masses so that abject poverty no longer resides next door to opulence in this country? Given the dire straits of our national economy and the government’s severe financial constraints in the wake of the depressed prices of the major commodities on the world market (iron ore and natural rubber) which drive the Liberian economy and generate the revenues that fund government operational expenditure, is it in the long or the short term that the benefits of the Pro Poor Agenda (PPA) would begin to impact the plight of our unfortunate brethren? Would our people be patient enough to await a resolution of their situation in the long term, if for some reason there is a shortfall in funding to jumpstart the PPA in the short term? These are some of the fundamental questions that our economic planners, politicians and strategists must carefully consider and seek to adequately address as they begin to chart the course of our nation’s future. Succinctly put, there cannot be a quick fix in view of the nation’s current economic realities. This is a tall order for our economic planners and politicians who must now craft the road map of the Pro Poor Agenda (PPA) with caution to ensure that there is no deviation from the ultimate goal of taking our people out of poverty and creating a level playing field for all Liberians.
The CDC government has been in power for barely two months now and, already, a trend of bold action is beginning to emerge. For instance, Josephine Davies, the new firebrand Inspector General of Professor Wilson Tarpeh’s Commerce Ministry, as if on cue, has embarked on an aggressive campaign to eradicate potentially hazardous health threatening expired food and medical products from the Liberian market. She invaded the ware houses of some of the nation’s largest importers of food products at the Red Light Market in Paynesville city and the famous Abijoudi Supermarket on Randall Street, the nation’s largest. And guess what? Tons upon tons of expired food products were discovered, seized and are now in the process of being destroyed, with hefty fines imposed on the Lebanese businessman who owns the largest Cold Storage in the country and the proprietors of Abijoudi. Professor Tarpeh’s entire team must be given kudus for their audacity in confronting a malady that could ultimately create serious health difficulties for lower income Liberians, because they are the ones who would be most attracted to the cheap expired products given their affordability. There must be no deviation from this bold action as the New Dispensation begins to take hold, since this would defeat its ultimate goal to bring relief to Poor Liberians, who, by design, are the intended beneficiaries of the Pro Poor Agenda.
Recently, the Minister of Finance announced that policies have been put in place to ensure that all civil servants would receive their salaries by the 25th of each month. This is a further manifestation of the CDC Government’s determination to create a level playing field for all Liberians. It had been the standard practice of the previous government to pay Ministers, Deputy Ministers and other high ranking officials of government their salaries early, deliberately neglecting civil servants salaries until the middle of the month in most instances. Top officials of the Unity Party Government couldn’t care less as long they got their salaries on time, although they were acutely aware that civil servants are the ones who run the day-to-day operations of the government. This was inherently unfair and speaks volumes about the lack of compassion by many officials of the Unity Party Government for the plight of lower ranked civil servants, who were expected to be at work every day in a timely manner. This inherently gross injustice had become institutionalized. Well, good riddance, this shall no longer suffice, thanks to the new policy. The New Dispensation is off to a very good start and the naysayers cannot keep the ball from rolling, as it would appear that more good news for the masses is definitely in the making, in view of the sincerity of the President and his determination to improve the lot of less fortunate Liberians by introducing and implementing programs designed to defeat poverty and create jobs.
Significantly, the government must be on its guide against renegade elements of the defeated Unity and Liberty parties, sour losers, who seem bent on creating doubts about Weah’s Government by resorting to Social Media to disseminate fake news and sow seeds of discontent in the minds of our people before the government even gets started with its ambitious agenda of alleviating poverty and destroying the demons of destitution. Don’t they realize that this is a honeymoon period for this young government which is still far removed from its first hundred days? Has a newly elected government at any point in history been able to correct the mistakes of twelve years of bad governance in just two months? This is a mathematical impossibility by any stretch of the imagination, therefore it would be well advised were the gentlemen of the opposition to respect the rules of engagement of the Liberian political landscape and gave George Weah some breathing room; this is only fair. The game of politics is beautiful to watch and is more beneficial to society when it is played with finesse, craft and a diplomatic nuance devoid of the ruthless deception akin to the Machiavellians; all players must acknowledge and respect the rules of engagement that govern the national political landscape. Let us not forget that disunity breeds conflict and is a formula for disaster.
And so you have it.