The Cabinet yesterday began a two-day retreat at a resort in Western Liberia, most likely to review the recent past and to chart the course for the year ahead.
The President and her inner circle, comprising her chief lieutenants, have a lot on their plate. Number one on their agenda may be to give thanks to Almighty God, to Liberia’s health and medical workers, to our international partners and to the Liberian people for their combined efforts in what appears to be a successful battle against the deadly Ebola virus.
Like a thunderbolt the virus hit Liberia in March last year, killing people almost everywhere, ravaging our economy, reducing it to zero level growth and seriously injuring our international relations. But thankfully, the virus is disappearing, with most of the Ebola Treatment Units (ETUs) empty and no new cases reported in the past few weeks. The ardent hope of the government and all Liberians is that by February, the virus would be gone and Liberia will at long last be declared Ebola-free.
The Cabinet will have to strategize how to keep everything on course, so that there will be no more fresh outbreaks. Now that schools have been reopened, the Education and Health authorities should assure the Cabinet that ALL schools, both public and private, are fully equipped with chlorinated buckets, thermometers, hand sanitizers, etc., to minimize or extirpate (remove, get rid of) anything remotely related to the virus.
The Cabinet’s second task in this retreat is to fine tune something they have already begun planning: ways in which to jumpstart the economy and get it back on track. Since we are still in January, we still have time to resume economic growth. GOL has already pumped money back into the agricultural, educational and infrastructural sectors, and this should be a healthy beginning.
With Liberians consciously and continuously observing all the anti-Ebola measures, the virus would soon be gone, and all of the expatriates involved in reconstruction of the hydro, electrical works of the Liberia Electricity Corporation (LEC), road building and other infrastructural activities would soon be back. The expatriates’ return would provide a major impetus to economic recovery.
In recent editorials we suggested ways of putting our farmers back to work—by empowering them with tools, seeds, money, roads and access to markets. Added to these could be encouraging the farmers to enter the animal husbandry business—poultry and eggs, pigs, cattle. Marketing Association President Lusu Sloan could be encouraged to get her fellow market women involved in the poultry business, like the Mozambican market women, who control the poultry industry in that country.
We also suggested in that recent editorial that GOL should find a way to engage the street sellers, boys and girls, able-bodied young men and women and introduce them to the Monrovia Vocational Training Center (MVTC) and the Booker Washington Institute, where they may be introduced to accelerated programs in various trades. This exercise would give them marketable skills which would empower them to be more gainfully employed.
The President this week made a renewed call for government to fight corruption. As we said in a recent editorial, this must start with the President herself and her inner circle. We still do not know which Liberians are they that benefitted from the recent sale of the oil blocks. This is the kind of veiled secrecy that raises concern and even alarm about government’s intentions.
A senior member of government told the Daily Observer off the record last year that he sometimes shuddered (trembled) at the massive sums of money GOL approves to be paid to foreign businessmen. At this Cabinet Retreat, can the Ministers and Agency Heads make a commitment to their Cabinet colleagues that in this New Year they will do everything to find Liberian businesspeople to whom contracts will be awarded?
Just last weekend a 49 year-old man raped a 12 year-old girl to death. The Ministry of Justice and the Liberian Judiciary could, by the way they handle particularly this case—hopefully efficiently and expeditiously—send a strong message to such wickedly demented people they will face the full force of the law for such heinous acts.