The Daily Observer Indeed Wishes You Well, Mr. President. Just Do the Right Thing!

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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!

3 COMMENTS

  1. Mr Editor: Thanks for this fantastic piece. The Liberian people need to have more like it regularly to keep them awake. President Weah’s cardinal mistake right from the start was in assuming he could rely mainly on his team of soccer fans to perform the Herculean presidential task of nation building. As badly as things have gone so far, if he does not hasten to recruit a full complement of competent, honest Liberians to man his cabinet, Weah will end up, at best, a mere footnote in Liberian history books.

    In any case, the most important thing he can and must do right now is to see the investigation of the twin scandal (of the 16 billion and 25 million) credibly concluded, letting the chips fall where they may.

  2. Mr. President, it is approaching a year since you and your CDC leadership came into power. I think it is time for me to revisit these pertinent questions many concerned citizens asked you at the beginning of your presidency.

    We would like to know how much your administration has accomplished since your ascendancy as Liberia’s commander-in-chief. I believe these questions are relevant since the Liberian people were not opportune to read a comprehensive platform from your party (CDC) upon taking office.

    1. How are you going to protect and respect the separation of power when the House of Rep. is dominated by CDC Party members who are rubber-stamping most of the President’s bills that infringe on laws that were meant to guide against presidential over-reach on laws creating term limits for heads of autonomous agencies eg: LACC, CBL, NEC, GAC, and PPCC?

    2. If the House of Rep. is very concerned on overturning tenured positions (term limits) for autonomous agencies leaders, then why can’t Congress overturn the current (long-ass) term limits for President, Senators and Representative and go back to the Pre-1986 Constitutional two term limits of 4 years for Pres.; 4 Years term for Rep., and 6 years term for Senators: removal subject only to constitutional violations of duties?

    3. Mr. President, what development plans and economic policies are you putting in place to attract foreign and domestic investments to increase employment and economic growth in Liberia?

    4. What are your “pro poor” jobs and pro-growth policies in stimulating the economy and reducing the high unemployment rate in Liberia? What is latest update on the New Monrovia City relocation project on “Bali Island”: 4000-seat Conference Hall that will be named after the late Indian Prime Minister, Mahatma Gandhi? Study Nigeria and Ivory Coast new capital relocation…..well planned and strategically relocated far away from their old capital cities (not close to any border).

    5. How do you plan on balancing our fiscal budget and increasing revenue? We need a comprehensive update on the unaccounted LD $16 Billion printed: on how some were spent during previous administration, and what happened to the balance money that came in during this current administration: yet, Liberia’s economy is falling precipitously (steeply).

    6. How do you plan on paying Liberia domestic, external/foreign debt when exports of domestic goods are at a standstill while foreign imports are rising exponentially?

    7. What are your education policies to make sure no child is left uneducated in Liberia? What are your programs or resources to promote early childhood literacy, and programs towards adult literacy in Liberia? Libraries are in short supply in the remaining 14 counties.

    8. What are your decentralization policies or bills for the legislators to pass (eg. Electing Superintendents, Mayors) thus giving these counties heads more autonomy to attract development in other parts of Liberia?

    9. What policies are you putting towards agriculture development (partnership with Japanese/Chinese rice production experts) that leads to food security?

    10. What policies are you putting toward urban and rural electrification/pipe-borne water, sanitation and sewer system in Liberia?

    11. What policies are you putting toward Liberia’s modernization: manufacturing raw material extracted/ produced in Liberia? Do we have policies to train more Liberians (on scholarships) in the high tech manufacturing, material science, and metallurgy (metal) for future manufacturing/production jobs?

    12. What policies are you putting toward making the 15 counties more autonomous (less centralized) to make them less dependent on the “all-powerful” central (Monrovia) government to help speed up economic development? A rigorous check and balance system put in place to hold county leaders accountable for the disbursement of development funds.

    13. What policies are you putting in place to reduce the “imperial presidency” power that is detrimental to economic growth, entrepreneurship, individual liberty, individual growth and prosperity? The Presidency in Liberia has always been notorious for being too overbearing, too manipulative, and too controlling of how resources are used in Liberia. This “imperial presidency syndrome” leaves little room for accountability: little room for check and balances on how leaders and the upper echelons of government spent the country’s wealth.

    14. What policies are you putting in place to encourage free enterprise, small and medium businesses to boost free market economy in Liberia? Micro-Enterprises: Small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) similar to Grameen Bank Microcredit programs to small farmers and small businesses instituted by Bangladesh renowned economist Mahammad Yunus to help alleviate poverty in Bangladesh.

    15. How do you plan to strengthen the security sector: military, police, and other law enforcement agencies to maintain the peace and surety of Liberia?

    16. How do you plan to protect Liberia’s porous border to curtail illegal migration and protect Liberia from radical/militant/terrorist groups from infiltrating the country?

    17. How do you plan to cut down on government waste, nepotism, and crackdown on corruption that are cancerous to the economic growth of Liberia?

    18. What are your health care policies (health emergency management plans) to avoid another Ebola crisis or a major health epidemic?

    19. How do you plan to encourage meaningful research and development at various universities particularly in specialized medicine, science and technology that are urgently needed in Liberia?

    20. How do you plan on controlling inflation and strengthening the Liberian Dollar against the U.S. Dollar? Why did you by-pass congress in authorizing U.S.$25M to simulate the economy without giving a Congress or the Liberian people a comprehensive report/plan on how the $25 M was infused or not infused into the economy?

    21. How do you plan on strengthening the criminal justice system so that no one is deprived of his/his due process under the law? How do you plan to reduce the habitual abuse of power by the “so-called untouchable” government officials when it comes to the misused of government properties?

    22. What are your short term and long term job creation policies to stabilize the economy and put people to work? Will Liberia continue to use dual currencies as legal tender which is stifling economic growth in Liberia due to rapid fluctuations b/t rates?

    23. What are your national unity and reconciliation policies? Are you catering to the poor specifically for political gain, or are you more development oriented “Pro-Growth” that develops the country’s economy as a whole? Remember, “A rising tide lifts all boats” regardless of their size.

    24. What are your foreign policies as it relates to bilateral relationships with foreign nations especially Liberia’s traditional partners? Is Liberia “Open-Door Policy” still being implemented to attract competitive foreign investments in Liberia as was done during Liberia’s booming economic years (high employment rate) under President Tubman? The downside was less infrastructure development around the country under Pres. Tubman except Monrovia and Harper.

    25. What policies will you put in place to protect Liberia’s forest and fauna from depletion due to mismanagement of the logging sectors?

    26. How do you plan on cracking down on illegal mining that is robbing the country of government revenue, and how do you plan on protecting the environment from mining pollution?

    27. How will you hold multinational companies liable for violating labor and environmental laws of Liberia? Will you revisit all existing concessions’ contracts that are not profitable to Liberia? Remember, How The Liberia Mining Company (LMC) (Bomi Hills) left a Ghost Town in Liberia during their departure in the 70s which was later nicknamed “Bomi Hole”.

    28. How are Liberian sea-farers benefiting from the vast maritime vessels flying Liberian Flag of Registry “Flag of Convenience” FOC? Are they being sent abroad for advanced maritime training to work on vessels registered with Liberia’s FOC?

    29. What social programs and policies are you putting in place to protect and help Liberian vulnerable children and homeless kids to get them off the street and put them into school?

    30. What policies are you putting in place to strengthen public transportation around Liberia via road/air, water and rail to alleviate the danger and reduce deaths from riding on motorcycles as paying passengers?

    31. What policies are you putting in place to strengthen youth vocational and technical training to make them more employable and useful citizens to society?

    32. What policies are you putting in place to protect freedom of the press, freedom to assembly, religious liberty and individual constitutional rights?

    33. How are you going to protect Liberia’s territorial water from the encroachment of foreign fishing vessels? The fishing industries if harnessed on large industrial skill could help boost Liberia’s economy.

    34. What policies/incentives/subsidies are you putting in place to encourage small and large farmers to increase food production coupled with the introduction of mechanized and new farming system in Liberia?

    35. What policies are you putting in place to guarantee free public education to every Liberian child up to secondary school? How are you going to pay for the “proposed free-tuition” for public colleges & universities with a country barely surviving on a meager fiscal budget less than US $1Billion? Perhaps, if the President, Members of Congress, & other government officials make their assets declaration public and transparent, then, it would shine light on where some of Liberia’s money is going: legally or illegally!!

    36. What policies are you putting in place to rehabilitate Liberian non-dangerous criminals to become productive citizens? Teach them to become productive farmers or to gain some useful industrial skills to serve the country.

    37. What policies are you putting in place toward land reform, low cost housing and rural development? These are volatile issues that need serious attention….to keep the peace.

    38. What policies are you putting in place to protect our beaches from sea-erosion, trash and other public indecencies (toilets)? Massive sand mining on the beach coupled with natural disasters (rising ocean tides) are causing dangerous erosion along Liberia’s beaches. Building houses too close to the ocean-front and wet-lands should be prohibited. Erecting massive sea walls, with the help of international partners, to reduce sea erosion should be solicited. Many lives could potentially be saved. …West Point.

    39. What policies are you putting in place to develop Liberia’s untapped tourism industry? It is very difficult to promote tourism when beaches, natural parks, historical sites, and other beautiful landscapes are kept in deplorable conditions.

    40. Liberia’s greatest asset is not only exploiting its untapped natural resources: Liberia’s greatest assets lie in its human development. Therefore, when will this government set policies that utilize the great capabilities and potentials of all Liberians both at home and the Diaspora?

    Remember Mr. President & Members of the Congress, your leadership can either make Liberia a better place to live, or your leadership can make Liberia a dangerous place to live.

    A wise person once said, “Elected leaders who forget how they got there won’t get there the next time.” May God bless you as you approach the New Year (2019) of your presidency.

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