He put it plainly and simply in his panel remarks at last week’s Micro, Small and Medium Sized Enterprises (MSMSE) Conference. He sternly warned: “Employees of the Public Procurement Concessions Commission (PPCC) stand to lose their jobs if they are caught receiving any remuneration for providing services to business owners.”
But PPCC Executive Director James Dorbor Jallah did not stop there. He had an equally stern warning for business owners, among whom are those known to be the most powerful business group in the country. Mr. Dorbor warned: “When any of you as a business owner is found offering ‘cold water’ to any employee, the employee stands a chance of losing his or her job and you the business owner stand to lose the opportunity that PPCC offers to business owners.”
Daily Observer Editor Omari Jackson, who in last Friday’s edition, faithfully gave the public an interpretive report of Mr. Jallah’s forthright remarks last Thursday, explained, “Many times serious national issues are done the Liberian way by bypassing official channels of ensuring transparency and equal treatment for any business owner competing for contracts.”
“Mr. Jallah,” said Editor Jackson, “took pains to explain the process of business registration and the related issue of how a business can successfully bid for contracts.
“The PPCC Executive Director regretted that many Liberian-owned businesses lack the capacity and efforts by PPCC to provide capacity are not fully supported.”
The foregoing is a mouthful about the way we have for decades done business in Liberia. In yesterday’s Editorial, the Daily Observer referred to the “corruptive tentacles” of a certain powerful business class in Liberia that prefers to bribe their way through the contract process or any other kind of business transaction. And that is how they have always done business—corrupting the system and, in the process, excluding anyone else, most especially Liberian-owned enterprises, from participation in business.
That is how they have taken over business in Liberia and become super rich, exporting their wealth back to their home country.
We wonder whether those running for President or other public offices are taking note of PPCC Executive Director Dorbor Jallah’s warning to his employees and the business community. How will they—those seeking elective office—respond to this highly principled and patriotic public servant, James Dorbor Jallah? Is he the kind of person they want in their government? Or would they prefer a corrupt, selfish, malleable and unpatriotic person who will insist on doing business “the Liberian way”?
Dorbor Jallah, whose fertile brain, hard work and passion for success led him to obtain a graduate degree from the world’s preeminent technical institution, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), said something else in his remarks at the MSMSE Conference last Thursday. Acknowledging the fact that most Liberian businesses lack capacity, Mr. Jallah said the PPCC’s efforts to extend greater capacity to Liberian businesses “have not been supported.” Why?
Has the government not yet realized that Liberian-owned businesses have been perennially at a serious disadvantage because of their lack of capacity in the bidding process? So what is a government for, if not to empower its own people?
We hope and pray that those running for president are taking note, and not taking note only, but have a patriotic commitment to change the status quo in the predominance of foreign businesspeople in the Liberian economy. We pray that they are not seeking power just to enrich themselves by perpetuating—as so many past administrations have done—the foreign middle class in Liberia, leaving fellow Liberians poor, decrepit (broken-down), destitute and disempowered.
That, too, we submit, would be a serious THREAT TO PEACE.