Initiating Modern Home Building in Liberia: Floyd Thomas’ Laudable Example

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President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf last Thursday proudly commended a young Liberian, Floyd Thomas, for taking the bold initiative to build a modern home complex in Paynesville that Liberians can buy for themselves.

This is highly significant, even revolutionary, since this is not building houses just for rent—No!  These are houses you can buy as your own, just as it is done in the United States and elsewhere.

Mr. Floyd Thomas, a Liberian entrepreneur, initiated this project.  He purchased 25 acres in Gbengbar Town, around the Voice of America (VOA) junction on the Robertsfield Highway.  His enterprise, the Premier Homes JV Company, is undertaking a gated housing complex, which means that security in such a secluded area will be guaranteed—the first thing home buyers need to be assured of.

But in addition, President Sirleaf assured the developers that she will do everything to bring power and water to the community.  We hope that the Liberia Electricity Corporation’s Joe Meyers and the Liberia Water and Sewer Corporation’s Charles Allen will waste NO time in supplying the complex with power and water.

There are yet one very important person and a corporation to commend: Mr. Dewitt vonBallmoos, Managing Director, and his company, the National Social Security and Welfare Corporation (NASSCORP).  It is they that provided the initial funding for the Gbengbar Town project. 

Does anyone remember the people who ran NASSCORP in the late 1990s and early 2000s and what they did to it? They looted it thoroughly and made themselves very rich—but what they did with those ill-gotten riches, heaven knows.

But here, on the other hand, is this young man, Dewitt vonBallmoos, who has decided to make his parents, especially his mother, the eminent and talented Liberian musician and University of Liberia Choir Directress, Agnes vonBallmoos, and President Sirleaf proud.  Dewitt is running NASSCORP with the efficiency, integrity, vision and drive with which Lee Kuan Yew ran Singapore, turning that once impoverished city state into one of the world’s richest countries!

We wish to remind our readers of what we said in yesterday’s  editorial—that Singapore and Liberia were on the same development plane in 1959, when he became that newly self-governing country’s Prime Minister—illiterate, undeveloped, backward.  In fact, mineral, land and rubber-rich Liberia, unlike Singapore, was then among the world’s fastest growing economies.  But what happened to Liberia, which is today one of the world’s poorest, whose people on average survive on hardly a dollar a day;  while Singapore boasts one of the world’s richest nations, with the per capita income of US$36,000?

The reason for this incredible success story is, according to the leader of another Asian Tiger, Hong Kong, Lee Kuan Yew’s “integrity, tenacity, vision and drive."  Lee, at the onset of his leadership, made it known that he was tolerating NO corruption, and that anyone found stealing government money or resources would be ruthlessly dealt with, including paying back EVERY CENT!

Those who ran NASSCORP in the past have a whole lot about which to envy DeWitt vonBallmoos.  Look at what he and his coworkers, under his leadership, have already done with NASSCORP’s resources: they have built guest houses and an office complex in Buchanan, Grand Bassa County, guest houses in Kakata, Margibi County and Voinjama, Lofa County, and the imposing office complex at ELWA Junction, now being occupied by another highly credible state enterprise, the newly created Liberia Revenue Authority (LRA).

And now NASSCORP’S latest intervention: it is they who have given the initial funding for Floyd Thomas’ building of Liberia’s latest private home complex in Paynesville.

Mr. vonBallmoos was present when President Sirleaf dedicated the complex last Thursday.  He told the Daily Observer on Tuesday that NASSCORP’s initial funding of the project is expected to be followed by the intervention of the Liberia Bank for Development and Investment (LBDI), whose President, John Davies, also participated in the Premier Homes ceremony.  LBDI is primed to engage with Premier Homes because the bank operates a US$10 million Central Bank of Liberia (CBL)-funded mortgage lending facility—the first of its kind here.

In commending President Sirleaf for her encouragement, Mr. Thomas for his initiative and Mr. vonBallmoos for boldly funding this great initiative, we hope that Liberians here and abroad will patronize the homes, paving the way for Messrs. Thomas, vonBallmoos, Davies and others to do more to push Liberia ahead. 

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