LBDI at 50 Takes Bold, Visionary Initiatives

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The Liberia Bank for Development and Investment (LBDI) is celebrating this month its 50th Anniversary. In this connection, the Bank has rolled out a series of bold initiatives not just affecting the bank but enhancing its corporate social responsibility.

Finance and Development Planning Minister Amara Konneh, who is Chair of the LBDI Board, outlined these initiatives during a press conference last Thursday.

Among them are a 250 KVA generator for Suakoko, Bong County’s Phebe Hospital, the first major referral hospital in Liberia’s interior; a digital database for Monrovia’s John F. Kennedy Medical Center (JFK), Liberia’s leading referral and teaching hospital; and a computer lab at the University of Liberia (UL).

LBDI President and CEO John Davies further disclosed that the bank will also finance the National Spelling Bee Competition and initiate intellectual debates among two major institutions of higher learning in Monrovia, Stella Maris Polytechnic and the African Methodist Episcopal University (AMEU). Their students will debate the topic, “Legislating a Bank Account as Pre-requisite for Business Registration,” while former LBDI President Francis Dennis and former Finance Minister Wilson Tarpeh will discuss “The Challenges and Prospects of Dual Currency in Liberia.”

Mr. Davies said the bank’s Board members will, during this period of celebration, discuss strategic plans for the next five years and targeted actions to impact agriculture, infrastructure and Small and Medium Size Enterprises (SMEs).

What a visionary plan for a 50th Anniversary Celebration!

Tracing the history of the Bank, LBDI President Davies paid tribute to the visionary founders, including the Director of the Budget under President W.V.S. Tubman, Frank James Stewart, and P. Clarence Parker.

Mr. Stewart, in his private capacity, built the Charlotte Supermarket, Sinkor Old Road’s first supermarket, while Mr. Parker privately founded Liberia’s first paint manufacturing enterprise, Parker Paint in Paynesville.

Yet, these two visionary Liberians were among the 13 leading Liberian officials executed by firing squad on April 22, 1980.

Question: Those political activists of the 1970s who submitted to Master Sergeant Samuel K. Doe and his 16 fellow 1980 coup makers the list of people to be executed—what have these political activists of the 70s accomplished in their own lives? What tangible development contributions have they made to Liberia?

That is precisely what this newspaper, the Daily Observer, was trying to say in two of our recent Editorials to members and supporters of the University of Liberia’s Students Unification Party (SUP). The political activists of the 1970s made a lot of noise about change—and change they got when the nation was rudely and murderously awaken on that fateful April 12 morning in 1980.

Among those executed were, yes, very high government officials, but more than that, entrepreneurs, who were trying to make a difference in business and manufacturing. People like Frank Stewart, son of a Kpelle evangelist, Obadiah Stewart, and Clarence Parker, who later became Chairman of the National Investment Commission, were trying to make a difference. They helped found LBDI and also became entrepreneurs, starting a supermarket and the nation’s first paint factory.

Another entrepreneur executed was James T. Phillips, a soil scientist who, on a massive scale, produced and sold pepper, bitter ball and other vegetables to our market women.

Can we say the same of any of those activists who submitted to the PRC the names of those who were executed?

And what change came to Liberia following the coup? The PRC, whose leaders and members did their share of looting of Liberia’s financial resources, inflicted 10 years of terror on the Liberian people that led us to civil war.

The war was started by another grand looter—Charles G. Taylor. With his corrupt behavior, he inflicted pain upon not one but two countries, Liberia and Sierra Leone, and caused another civil war in that neighboring country.

President Davies told last Thursday’s press conference that LBDI is poised shortly to become Liberia’s largest bank, both in terms of assets and the number of account holders.

We commend LBDI on its 50th Anniversary and the elaborate plans rolled out for the celebration.

The Liberian public, especially LBDI’s customers, are awaiting the unveiling of its electronic banking facilities in Monrovia and other parts of the country, which promise to make banking easier and faster.

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