South Dakota, USA- Most mornings, when Liberians across the world wake up from bed or get off work depending on the time of their locations, they are greeted with a familiar chorus: “This President Will Succeed.” This chorus which is penned on a daily basis by partisans of the ruling Coalition For Democratic Change, government officials and supporters of the current Liberian government, often ignite debates across Liberia political spectrum. Despite this statement that many people see as a means to motivate the President’s base, it is often met with an important question: “Is This President Succeeding?” With year one of the Weah’s Presidency elapsing, The Liberian Billboard in an impartial but critical analysis, takes a look at this familiar chorus from many points, beginnning with the economy below.
The economy of any nation is pivotal to its success and the well-being of its citizens. However, it is no secret that the Liberian economy during President Weah’s first year in office, has been struggling miserably. High Prices intertwined with low employment have been the order of the day. Basic necessities which were once affordable, have become treasures.
Although in recent times, the Liberian government through the National Investment Commission said that several investments are pending, President Weah’s first year in office has seen no tangible investment, thereby putting the private sector in a stagnated place. This stagnation on the private sector makes the government the largest employer in the country; employment in government are mostly associated with party loyalty.
A Liberian Billboard survey puts many Liberians in an economic backward position than where they were during the last 12-years, something that is directly opposite of what the current administration promised during the elections of 2017.
“Even the Christmas is dark, no light. We have turned and twisted, no way. I only pray to have food for me and my children to eat on that day,” a mother three told our correspondent.
Finance and Development Planning Minister Samuel Tweah has been labeled by the opposition and many in the public as being unable to manage the Liberian economy. However, surrogates who reports say are being paid, usually come in his defense when he is criticized.
Despite the government’s beautiful Pro-Poor document, the lives of most Liberians still remain in either a backward or paused position.
The government, in defense of itself has said on many occasions that they inherited bulk of the problems from the past government. On the other hand, it was based on the promises of fixing these problems that this government was even elected.
Despite the economic condition of the country, there have been multiple allegations of corruption, with most recently, a reportage made by the Frontpage Newspaper of some payments made to a non-existent company. Mr. Rodney Sieh, the Frontpage Managing Editor also made claim of having several vouchers associated with finanacial maldpractices by this government, evidence he said, that have been submitted to the United States Embassy.
As we were writing this analysis, President Weah was launching a US$ 3 million small business loan scheme in the redlight area. This is good move, only if it will reach the real beneficiaries. Empowering small and medium businesses is every essential to any nation economic growth.
With the current living situation of many Liberians, coupled with The Liberian Billboard’s obeservation and investigation, it is no doubt that the country’s economy is bad. Based on the performance of the current team at the Ministry of Finance, Planning and Development, the prospect for a resuscitation seem far.
Of course, all of us want him to succeed, but is the President succeeding on the economy? The Liberian Billboard answer is No!
Recommendations: The Liberian Billboard will not only critique the government without making the necessary recommendations. It is no secret that Minister Samuel Tweah is a close confidant of President Weah. However, most Liberian Presidents have failed because of close relationships or ties. It is true that Minister Tweah was in the vanguard of the mighty coalition before its ascendancy to power, but his performance is far below expectations and as such, is making the President to fail in the economic sector.
Minister Tweah is a very good intellectual and would fit the position of a Minister of State or Minister of Foreign Affairs. From all indications, his knowledge about the economy is below par. We recommend that he should be reassigned and replaced with someone who has the technical and direct understanding about the workings of the Liberian economy.
If the President is serious about making his government work and to be very productive, The Liberian Billboard also recommends the appointment of Martime Commissioner, Dr. James Kollie as Minister of Finance and Development Planning.
Dr. Kollie, during the regime of President Sirleaf, was the brain behind many fiscal policies which ultimately provided economic relief on Liberians which was far better than now. We think President Weah still has many capable people in government who just need to be placed in the right positions.
Watch out for Part II tomorrow as we dissect the areas of health and infrastructure….