The attention of this newspaper is drawn to a front page story carried in its November 21, 2018 edition with the headline “Senate Hearing on CBL Postponed Indefinitely”.
The Daily Observer‘s legislative correspondent, J. Burgess Carter, reported that the Liberian Senate had invited members of the Technical Economic Management Team (TEMT) to provide explanations to that body on the US$25 million infusion into the economy and the case of the alleged missing billions.
According to the Daily Observer correspondent, the TEMT comprises several top ranking government officials including Finance Minister Samuel Tweah, Economic Advisor Charles Bright, CBL Executive Governor Nathaniel Patray; his two deputies, Charles Sirleaf and Mounir Siaplay; Commerce Minister Wilson Tarpeh, LRA Commissioner Thomas Doe Nah, etc.
Making their appearance before the Senate on November 13, 2018, to brief the body on the state of the economy in a scheduled public hearing, members of the TEMT were however advised to return to their offices and await the submission of written questions to which they would provide answers since neither the CBL Governor nor any of his deputies was in attendance.
Senator Chie further said, “We expect that you will give written answers to whatever the senators present to you, plus a written presentation that we expect you will also give in return. Because of that, we will not entertain a discussion with you today, but we will postpone this hearing to a later date to be decided by plenary, during which you will come up with a written report on the questions we give you.
“This will include issues that may be on your mind, and in addressing the state of the economy; the alleged missing Liberian dollars and the infusion of approximately US$25 million in the economy. So that is the decision of plenary, and you are hereby discharged, but we will call upon you another day.”
For weeks now, this matter has played out in the local and international media without any resolution in sight, at least for now. As it appears, the public is fast losing hope that the matter will be resolved anytime soon. It can be recalled that hopes were raised when President announced his intention to seek assistance from the United States government to help solve the puzzle of the missing billions.
But much to public dismay, there is hardly anything known about the investigation or its outcomes. The Minister of Finance, who is a key player in this affair, has repeatedly provided conflicting accounts of the missing billions suggesting in one breath that no money went missing and yet in another breath suggesting that money did go missing.
And on the issue of the infusion of US$25 million intended to mop up excess liquidity and halt the depreciation of the Liberian dollar against the US dollar, the Finance Minister has emphatically declared that he, perhaps single-handedly, decided that infusing the cash through the commercial banks would have not yielded the desired results and so he instead opted to physically buy excess Liberian dollars from institutions and individuals believed to be holding large amounts of Liberian dollar banknotes.
If the Minister’s declared action was intended to halt the depreciation of the Liberian dollar against the US dollar, the continued fall of the Liberian dollar has virtually made mincemeat of the Minister’s argument since the Liberian dollar yet remains in free fall. And Liberians are indeed feeling the pinch of half-baked policy actions which, other than increased hardships, have little import to the lives of ordinary Liberians.
This newspaper, as a consequence, feels duty bound to inform President Weah as well as his officials of the hard truth, that the Liberian people are fast losing trust and confidence in this government given the excruciating economic conditions they face daily. Many families are going to bed hungry each day while so many children are out of school simply because their parents cannot afford.
There are indeed many families who seem to have no way out of this quagmire and, for them, suggestions by Representative Yekeh Kolubah that, the spate of ongoing construction works by President Weah and the ostentatious life style of his officials are all linked to the missing billions and the US$25 million infusion money, makes music to their ears.
While this newspaper would readily admit that many of the problems this government faces has roots in the past administration yet, it must point out that President Weah should have been aware that accepting the challenge to serve as President imposes on him a duty to fix the country’s problems.
As many of his supporters have, from time to time, boasted of a projected 12-year term of office for President Weah, many are also now beginning to question whether President Weah does have the knack and resolve to do away with his corrupt officials the nation’s latest nouveau riche, the noblesse oblige.
And if the preliminary results of the just concluded by-elections are anything to go by, President Weah and his CDC may very well be in for a very rude awakening in 2023. As his colleague and former teammate James Salinsa Debah puts it:
“George has achieved a lot in football and the people love him for it. But should he become president of Liberia, the public will forget his performances on the football pitch and judge him by what he achieves in office. People in the country are yearning for change and want it very quickly. If he doesn’t deliver it, the people could turn on him. It is a big risk he is taking and I wish him well.”
The Daily Observer Indeed Wishes You Well Mr. President, Just Do the Right Thing!