Special Feature

OUR RECOMMENDATIONS FROM THE COMFORT OF MONROVIA CENTRAL PRISON 12 YEARS AGO: COMPARED TO THE PREVAILING CONDITIONS OF TODAY – ECONOMIC PARALYSIS DUE MAINLY TO DUAL CITIZENSHIP AND CORRUPTION

On July 18, 2018, we reported President Weah’s Plan of Action designed to “rescue the nation’s Economy from the Great Beyond and the Liberian currency, the Liberian dollar, in ‘depreciation hot-pursuit’”, a devastating, negative impact on Liberian business and the purchasing power of the consumers, particularly, the poor, unemployed, hungry, often sick, un-informed, un-educated, etc., etc. average Liberian.


Specifically, the President identified the nation’s major economic problem that, “Our currency was (is) experiencing rapid and unprecedented depreciation, contributing to rising inflation. Unemployment was (is) very high and our foreign reserves were (and are) at an all-time low”:

1) “For many decades, we have incurred (foreign) trade deficits because we import more (goods and services) than we export”;

2) “Key to success in this endeavor is for Liberians (the Republic of Liberia) to produce more goods and services locally, so that we reduce (and eradicate) our importation of goods and services from abroad, while, at the same time increasing our exports and adding value to the raw materials that we ship to the world”;

3) “In this regard, our government intends to embark upon a major push to ensure that Liberia becomes more competitive in terms of domestic production . . . finding lasting solution to the macroeconomic challenges will take some time because nothing less than the structural transformation of the Liberian Economy will produce sustainable recovery and growth”.

Hence, the President’s request for patience in introducing the Government’s Economic Plan of Action:

“As a first step in this direction, we have placed emphasis and urgency on the formulation of a comprehensive development strategy . . . (which) will consist of short-term interventions, medium-term reforms, and long-term restructuring of the economy”.

“Over the next several weeks, the . . . Economic Management Team and . . . the CBL will announce a series of Monetary and Fiscal Policy measures that, we believe, should help reverse the decline of the value of the Liberian dollar. In seeking solutions to this problem, we intend to engage the minds of the best and brightest Liberian Economists . . .”

With this Plan of Action, the President retired a number of old-lined Economists, Technocrats and related professionals and brought in “the minds of the best and brightest Liberian Economists”, including the Honorable Nathaniel R. Patray, US trained Economist with more than 20 years of banking experience in Liberia with the National Bank of Liberia and Central Bank of Liberia.

Value of Currency, Major Economic Problem
The most major, vexing economic Problem today is the depreciation in the value of Liberian currency, the Liberian dollar with a devastating impact on the foreign exchange rate. It is significant to note, that although money/currency possesses no intrinsic (in and of itself) value in useful, human terms, but its worldwide acceptance as the medium of exchange for acquisition of human needs, goods and services desired in the marketplace gave or renders it social economic, politico-psychological value or that which has come to be known as “Storehouse of Value or Convertible Currency”.

But the Liberian currency, the Liberian dollar, does not possess or is without the recognition of international, Storehouse of value or Convertible Currency status, although declared a national currency “tied” or “pegged” to the court tails of the US dollar which circulates as legal tender with the Liberia dollar (a semi-official currency substitution, in the effort, apparently, to ease the peculiar conditions of developing countries’ inflations).

The major path to this Storehouse of Value or Convertible Currency of a country lies, among others, in the production of goods and services desired and demanded by other countries, the country’s trading partners and the general public. This, in fact, translates to demand for the Liberian currency by others and, thereby, renders it the status of Storehouse of value or Convertible Currency. But throughout its history, the Republic of Liberia has been involved in the use of foreign currencies as legal tender in circulation with Liberian currencies. The first foreign currency was the British Pound and later (1943), the United States Dollar up to this day.

The selection of a nation’s foreign exchange rate is not an issue of a “quick fix”. It is a serious undertaking/responsibility that requires graduate study and knowledge of the Theory of Macroeconomics and years of requisite training and experience; but its application as rational public policy measure is easier, since governments employ trained/experienced Economists as advisors.

 

The major, critical Question
Our Liberia is a small African nation of about 4 million, sparsely distributed, endowed with all natural resources and land (more land than people) for cultivation and production of tropical goods and services – cocoa, coffee, pineapples and juices, oranges and juices, rice, chickens and poultry products, banana, fish, plantains, etc., etc. for the export trade, such as the successful, neighboring countries of Ghana and La Cote d’Ivoire. What, then, is the Problem with Liberia since 1847? Major Sources are Dual Citizenship and Corruption:

Dual Citizenship
The major African-American Founding Fathers of the Liberian Nation, though deported to this land of their ancestors, were American citizens. Therefore, a majority kept their American citizenships.

Firstly, historical, emotional attachment to and preference of the US greenbacks by Liberia’s African-American Elites, the social, economic and political ruling Class that constitutes the sole, major public policy decision-making Body in Liberian society are not unexpected.

The secondly, it was, and is, their apparent, conscious refusal and negligence to plan organize, establish and develop industrial enterprises/organizations designed for the production and export of goods and services desired and demanded by the Americans and other nationals.

But, unfortunately, as Liberian citizens who have major public policy decision-making power and, simultaneously, citizens of a foreign countries (as it had been and is), it is in their best political and economic interest for Liberia to continue buying imported goods from the countries of their citizenships, infinitively and dangerously, rather than plan, organize, establish and develop local, industrial enterprises for production of goods and services for local consumption and export.

In time, the Congos and Indigenous Liberians (emerged/emerging Political Class) converted to African-Americanism by social-cultural “baptism” joined the Dual Citizenship bandwagon, recognizing its socio-economic and political benefits. Indigenous Liberian Dual Citizens now dominate the National Legislature in violation of Article 30 of the 1986 Constitution and Cllr. Jerome Korkoya as Chairman of the National Elections Commission, also, in violation of Liberia’s Statutory and Constitutional Laws, as the proven citizen of a foreign country.

Historically, moreover, dual citizens dominated and controlled the political economy of Liberia; they continue to dominate and control the economics, including the major decision-making power of Liberia today. Just take a closer look at LPRC, NPA, NOCAL, Liberia Revenue Authority (LRA), Ministry of Finance & Development Planning (MFDP), NIC, etc., etc. These are the enclaves for Dual Citizens. Fabulous salaries “earned” in Liberia are transferred, periodically, to countries of their citizenship to purchase and maintain homes and families permanently. They travelled, often, to these countries to which they pledged loyalty, allegiance, patriotism and in which the hold fabulous bank accounts.
Corruption, Graft & Greed
The prevailing economic paralysis in Liberia must be and is credited to dishonesty of Liberian Public officials who, obviously, have monopolized Corruption, the universal vice found on all continents, in every country, culture and society irrespective of social, economic and political development and affluence. The Liberian officials have been found profoundly wanting in their management and application of Monetary and Fiscal Policies with particular respect to:

a) Choice of a rational foreign exchange rate regime, choice of national currency as legal tender for circulation, management of commercial banks and related financial institutions with respect to general organizational responsibilities and funds transfer, money laundering, interest rates, etc.

b) National Budget, the major tool for manipulation of aggregate supply/demand and stimulation of the economy, the planning, organization, establishment and development of industrial enterprises/organizations for production of goods and services for local and export trade, a long-term undertaking.

Our Article of June, 2001
In June, 2001, we wrote, from the comforts of the Monrovia Central Prison and published (Analyst Liberia, June 2001) the article entitled “Now That We Printed New Liberian Banknotes. . . .”. In that article, we held, specifically that:

The Banknotes
The printing/circulation of the banknotes and the withdrawal of both the “Liberty” and “JJ” banknotes. The printing of such a huge quantity of banknotes at an un-disclosed and undoubtedly astronomical cost appeared to be unjustified, given the nation’s hairline financial position at the time. Particularly so when, upon separate advice by the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank (see Reports dated January/February 1994-95), the Interim Government of Liberia in 1993, declared the “JJ” banknotes illegal, ordered them withdrawn from circulation and replaced with new “Liberty” banknotes. This policy action was based on the massive looting of banks, financial and business houses during the civil war and, thereby, placed the “JJ” banknotes, then in lawful circulation, in excess, an economic recipe for price inflation.

In the light of this lawful and rational, economic policy measure, we had expected that the printing of banknotes would be limited only to the required quantity of “Liberty” banknotes to replace the illegal and highly mutilated “JJ” banknotes. However, we were taken aback not only by the double printing (“Liberty” and “JJ” banknotes), but also by the purchase-withdrawal rate of two newly-printed, “Liberty” $5 notes for one old, mutilated “JJ” $5 note, since there were no legal and valid, economic reasons given for this two-for-one exchange rate. Also, the “JJ” banknotes were an illegal currency, very highly mutilated; they were not, in any way, in relative high demand to justify premium exchange rate.

We were amazed, also, by the Central Bank’s announcement of policy action retaining the US dollar as legal tender to circulate in tandem with the Liberian, national currency, the Liberian dollar. It is not a sound economic policy for a nation having a national currency to adopt, circulate and utilize the national currency of another as a legal tender. Among the negative, economic consequences are the likelihood to attract economic shocks such as run-away price inflation, interest rates, unemployment, etc., into the adopting nation’s economy (see IMF/WB Reports, January 1982 & January/February 1994-95).

Short- to Mid-term Suggestions
In the light of the foregoing considerations, we made the following suggestions directed to and at selected areas of our “economy”. The implementation of these suggestions assumes that there will be comprehensive study, review and analysis designed for holistic, national economic recovery:

1. That all domestic transactions – public, commercial and personal – which take place within the territory of the Republic of Liberia shall be in Liberian currency only, and that the use of the US dollar as legal tender shall be discontinued.

2. That the “one-to-one” parity (equivalence) of one US dollar to one Liberian dollar be repealed; this rate does not reflect the outcome of the interaction of market forces and, therefore, unrealistic in economic terms.

3. Also that the level of imported goods and services bought with foreign currency be controlled and reduced through import tariff levies. Commodities such as soft drinks, beer, stout (also produced in the country) and tobacco products (proved to be injurious to health); other expensive alcoholic beverages (also known to be injurious to health); and expensive, luxury automobiles, jewelry, etc., should be subjected to tariff manipulation to discourage import of these commodities. The control and, therefore, reduction of the level of import of the described goods and services will yield the following, economic benefits:

a. Reduce the pressure on the nation’s meager foreign exchange reserves, with priority attention placed on the import of “essential commodities such as pharmaceuticals, petroleum products and educational materials and supplies.

b. These measures will also reduce and eventually eliminate fierce competition on the Liberian market between “made-in-Liberia” products – soft drinks, beer, stout, etc. – and imported commodities often subsidized by foreign governments. This competition is highly likely to force the Liberian products out of the market and, eventually, drive the Liberian producer out of business, resulting to unemployment.

Importantly, the application of the foregoing measures will reduce, significantly, the unnecessary, excessive demand for foreign currency to purchase, also, unnecessary, imported goods and services. It is, indeed, this excessive demand for foreign currency that drives up the foreign exchange rate which, in turn, drives up commodity prices and, thus, causes the general price inflation. This economic spiral bears the major responsibility for the economic hardships that affect all Liberian, salary/wage earners and consumers. This price inflation, due to the rise of the foreign exchange rate, comes about because:

c. The more and more a given commodity is demanded by consumers, the higher and higher the price of that commodity rises; the foreign exchange rate is a price, a price paid in Liberian dollars for a US dollar, British pound, German mark, the CFA, etc.

d. Therefore, the more and more of the foreign currencies are demanded by Liberian consumers in order to purchase importable goods and services, the higher and higher the prices (or foreign exchange rates) rise.

e. Thus, we have seen and experienced that from a three-Liberian-dollar to one US-dollar exchange rate in early 1989, the exchange rate now stands at 64:1 in favor of the US dollar and rising. In other words, the Liberian consumer now pays a great deal more than twenty times for the same quantity and quality of goods and service bought in 1989; this prevailing condition raised the cost of living while, simultaneously, holding income constant at the depreciating or depreciated, Liberian dollar value; thereby, depreciating, also, or drastically reducing consumer buying power, a triple economic tragedy!!!

4. Abolish, by law, the inflationary pricing and sale of goods and services in foreign currency within the territory of the Republic. Examples are used and new automobiles, electric power generators, electric current, ice boxes and freezers, mobile and land telephone equipment, taxes, rent and lease payments, real estate and (including land) pricing, the list goes on and on. But Salaries and wages are paid in Liberian currency.

5. Why are Liberians required to purchase goods and services in foreign currency? Since the Central Bank of Liberia has established and monitors a foreign exchange bureau or the parallel market foreign exchange system, it is extremely necessary that this service, critical to foreign trade and commerce, be removed from the hands of individuals who are not relevantly trained and experienced.

6. Currency traders should and must be organized in accordance with law, with reporting/accountability responsibilities to the Central Bank and the Ministry of Finance.

7. Require, by law, that all export earnings or proceeds thereof be repatriated to Liberia, deposited in accounts held by the exporter in Liberian banks and in the currency in which payments for such exports were made. This action will and should control, through efficient management of the supply/demand/allocation of foreign currency in the effort to facilitate legitimate, economic activities.

8. The mind-boggling escalation of the nation’s foreign exchange rate sent shock waves throughout the economy with a chilling, negative impact on the buying power of the Liberian consumer. The President of Liberia was so moved and concerned that he Decreed the rising rate of 64:1 (64 Liberian dollars to one US dollar) be dropped to the low of 50:1. This was done with “immediate effect”, April 2002.

That there should and must now, 2018 and thereafter, be demand/supply-determined foreign exchange rate regime in Liberia, efficiently managed and controlled by the Central Bank, we argue.

This article was written 12 years ago with dual citizen-policy makers. The overwhelming majority of the prevailing officials are not only disloyal and unpatriotic, but also, dual citizens and corrupt!!

PERISCOPING 171ST NATIONAL INDEPENDENCE DAY ORATION OF JULY 26, 2018 OUR REACTION

Indeed, we are proud of and commend comrade Sam Tweah for his brilliant analysis deep in Liberian and related World History, Socio- economic and Political Thought. This is an academic/intellectual teaching rendition in support/justification of Honorable Samuel Tweah’s critical, questioning treatment (Sugarcoating 133 Years of Americo-Liberian Dominance, August 9, 2012”) of an earlier national Orator.


This Orator, the current Minister of Finance and Development Planning, R. L., is one of the most powerful political figures of the prevailing political dispensation by virtue of his position as head of the nation’s treasury who holds the keys thereof. He has lawful responsibility and authority to pay salaries, all benefits, all others , etc., etc. of all employees of government, including the President of the Republic, Speaker & Protempore of the National Legislature, Chief Justice and Associate Justices of the Supreme Court of Liberia. As such, the Honorable Minister argues the following.

War against Corruption
There is “No problem in Liberia (that is) bigger than the problem of corruption (Graft & Greed). Corruption has been a root cause of the conflicts that have run through our history. This generation of Liberians and this new Government must renew its pledge to fight and end corruption” and that:

1) “The first step . . . is to abolish the culture of impunity . . . we have to give more teeth . . . to Anti-Corruption institutions like the General Auditing Commission, the Liberian Anti-Corruption Commission and the Internal Auditing Agency”;

“Our new President has promised that under his leadership those who misuse public funds will have no place in his government. Such persons must face the full weight of the law”. This is certainly reassuring to all our countrymen and our development partners who provide important resources for our national development”;.

“Many Liberians have demanded an audit of the previous government as well as prosecution of former officials of government accused of squandering public funds. Towards this end, the new government must conduct a review of all audit reports with a view to implementing many of the recommendations contained in the various reports”;

“The Government of President Weah has committed itself to conducting this new review (of the audit reports) and noted that it is encouraging”;

2) “Whether the present Government should spend scarce resources, human and financial . . . on going after former government (officials) or whether the government should focus on the big economic problems that burden our people is an interesting choice to make. It is very obvious that investing in preventing new acts of corruption and in the economic transformation of the country should be preferred”;

“First, this approach minimizes the new government’s exposure to accusation of witch-hunting. To the extent that evidence of such corruption exists, delaying these prosecutions does not prevent the demanded prosecutions from happening at some time in the future”; and

Second, a focus on past acts of corruption may be one means to restoring public faith in the credibility and possibility of Liberian governance. Another means is to use scarce public resources more effectively/efficiently raise living standard of the Liberian people”.

OUR REACTION
Corruption, the Biggest Problem
That Corruption is the most major source of socio-economic and political problem that affects and afflicts, negatively, the total development of the Liberian Nation and People, particularly, during its recent past and the present-prevailing is so self-evident and obvious that it needs no lecture nor a national Oration. However, some notes for emphasis and insight into the very serious nature of the “problem” are necessary.

Corruption - graft, greed, bribery, extortion, dishonesty, moral decadence - is a universal phenomenon.

Found on every continent, in every country, society and culture irrespective of political/economic development and affluence, corruption is a vice that is arguably intrinsic in human nature. As such, Liberia and/or Liberians do not have a natural monopoly of corruption.

But recent activities and patterns of social, cultural behavior of the elite and educated indicate the contrary; that Liberian Governments and officials have, now, monopolized this universal vice to the detriment of the overwhelming majority of the nation, the poor, average citizens.

Stolen government resources have been, and are, utilized to construct palatial homes, buy expensive, luxury automobiles and invest in personal, business ventures which are regarded as "national development"; the guilty officials go unpunished and, in fact, are rewarded with promotions. Officials and related bureaucrats hire and surround themselves with relatives, friends, cronies and concubines. The officials are emulated by the young who see these immoral and unlawful acts as “savvy politics”.

For examples, former Minister of Justice, Auditor-General of Liberia and former President of the nation declared publicly that “Corruption is Liberia’s public enemy No.1”. But the President admitted inability to innovate corrective reforms.

World or International/global watch-dog and economic/financial Analysts declared Liberia as the most corrupt nation in a world comparative analysis; and Global Witness’ evidence-based, validated recent report charged identified, highly-placed Liberian Government officials of demanding/receiving bribes to amend/repeal PPCC laws in favor of a foreign company.

The Legal Counsel to the company who dished out the alleged bribes was the Chairman of the-then Ruling UNITY Political Party and obtained a US $200, 000.00 political contribution to the Party in flagrant violation of political party laws. He is now a prominent member of the National Legislature and one of several highly-placed officials are now under indictment.

This, is the unfortunate significant nature, level, scope and impact of the universal vice with respect to our country and people.

Although the Oration identified, correctly and adequately, the public policy Decision-actions required to rid the nation of the “biggest problem in Liberia – Corruption” - we are extremely disappointed and, indeed, profoundly, deeply troubled by the Oration’s statement that the new Government will and must “delay going after former officials of government (prosecution) for the future, although evidence against them exists”.

This approach, according to the Oration, is intended (1), to avoid prosecutorial expenditure and (2), minimize the “new Government exposure to accusations of witch-hunting”. But the approach, we believe, is a cope-out and invalid. For, it is reasonable to conclude that the Orator is fully aware of this and the legal maxim that “justice delayed is justice denied”.

Moreover, corruption, being the “biggest problem in Liberia”, is “drastic disease or sickness that demands drastic medicine treatment (W.V.S. Tubman)”. Further, in any democratic political community that is committed to the rule of law and in which mind-boggling illegal acts of atrocious summary executions, group massacres, genocides, human rights violations, rapes, maiming, thievery and corruption were committed without trial, as was the case in the Republic of Liberia, a legal house-cleaning effort for the arrest, trial of the suspected and punishment of the guilty are required, demanded and, indeed, mandatory.

This effort sends out the message, loud and clear, that there is, will and shall be, no preferential treatment of immunity or impunity given to anyone, irrespective of position and standing in the community. Legal house-cleaning is and will be the major test of the new Government’s credibility and commitment to “our countrymen and . . . development partners”.

Now, TRC the approach, based on the successful experience of the Republic of South Africa and, also, based on the Liberian Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), of Accra, Ghana, adopted and passed into law in Liberia as the reasonable option for peace and security in post-conflict Liberia - open, free and fair trials of suspected human rights violators, punishment of the guilty and amnesty granted the guilty, remorseful violators to whom such amnesty was due - a transitional justice approach, from conflict to modern, peaceful democratic rule.

In the light of the foregoing and the reality of the prevailing conditions on the ground in Liberia, as in the past, it is necessary, indeed mandatory, that:

1) The new Government should and must summon the political will and “guts” to distance itself from the war and economic crime (corruption) suspects. It should and must begin this process by rooting out and freeing the new Weah Government from entrapment by the Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf loyalists and others. Significantly, arrest and turn over all war and economic (corruption) crime suspects to the International Criminal Court (ICC) at The Hague for free, fair and open trials. With validated evidence, no reason exists for accusation of “witch-hunting” or “unnecessary prosecutorial expenditures”.

Indeed, this decision-action will earn and guarantee the new Government the International Community’s support led by Liberia’s most major historical benefactor and political ally, the USA, to arrest and turn over the suspects of war, economic and corruption crimes to the (ICC). For, it was this support, mainly economic, that convinced Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf to turn over her appointed war-front commander and ally, Mr. Charles Taylor, to the ICC for trial; the rest is history;

1) Left to Decision of the entrapped new Government on the ground in Liberia and placing War Crime Court, also, on ground in Liberia, will not be only repetition of the past 12-year illusion, but also, in support of Ellen Johnson-Sileaf’s ear-shattering silence in support of AU condemnation and threat of withdrawal from the ICC, Africa’s only salvation and protection from war (crimes of human rights violations of genocide and related crimes against African humanity), economic and corruption crimes. The prevailing Liberian socio-political and economic conditions merit ICC intervention; for, the ICC was created, exactly and precisely, to remedy such conditions;

2) Therefore, it is in the best economic and political interests of the new Government to arrest and turn over all bigwigs and related major-crime suspects led by ACDL’s Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf as the most senior warlord; Liberia Maritime Authority’s (formerly Liberian Maritime Commission) former administrators and LISCR for purchase of arms and ammunitions for the civil war with LISCR agents recently-reported to have stolen US $123 million of Liberia Maritime Authority’s funds and hiding behind their Legal Counsel in Monrovia (the already indicted Varney Sherman); and the reported “ghost (of Minister of State for Presidential Affairs, Dr. McClain) from the great beyond with payment of US $207,277 on behalf (also reportedly) of Ellen’s Lobbyist Public Relations fees” in Washington, D.C., USA.


The New Government
The new Government should and must break up or dismantle the Super Ministry of Finance and Development Planning (MF&DP) of the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Planning & Economic Affairs – separate paymaster from planner/doer to prevent the classic conflict-of-interest approach. The Ministry of Finance, given wider terrain with political power, influence and control, has been and is the most historically-dishonest, corrupt agency of government. It is now over-paid and over-staffed with dual citizens who do not live in Liberia but with families living permanently in foreign countries and travel, often, to these countries at enormous cost to the public resources; they are provided housing, transport, electricity generators with service allowances, although they plan or develop nothing, but collect payments from those that they pay nationally (retained from counties’ socio-economic development allocations).

It is, indeed, fortunate that the Orator is the head of the do-nothing and corrupt Ministry and that reasonable, effective, efficient reforms are assured.

Finally, the new Government should and must pay close attention to and evaluate/restructure the Ministry of Finance’s former Section - Bureau of Revenue - the now Liberia Revenue Authority (LRA). It has been, and is the nation’s second-most historically-dishonest and corrupt agency of government and may be, reasonably, re-named, Liberia Stealing Authority.

The agency is, also, over-paid and over-staffed with dual citizens who do not live in Liberia. Its close association with the National Social Security & Welfare Corporation (NASSCORP) MD is cause for concern. Indeed, it is about time that the new Government consider retirement of NASSCORP MD in the light of his payment of large sums of money to several politicians, including the recent, reported, payment to Honorable Harrison Karnwea of Nimba County that raised eye-brows on the internet.

And lastly, the Public Procurement & Concession Commission (PPCC), General Service Agency (GSA) and Ministry of Finance & Development Planning (MF&DP) have not, yet, accounted for the US $5M, some 300 vehicles and medical supplies donated to Liberia for the Ebola Emergency. Some of the vehicles and medical supplies were found in Saclepia, Nimba County, general, public market for sale.

It is about time that the new Government arrest the GSA MD, the Executive Director of the corrupt PPCC for prosecution by the ICC and replace the entire PPC Commission members. The so-called Ministry of Finance & Development Planning should and must, also, be re-structured.

Now, “our People” – the poor, un-informed, un-educated, unemployed, hungry, often sick but without healthcare and die of curable ailments; the majority of the nation’s population is now in Monrovia, trapped in the ghetto-slums surrounding the City – they expect, rightfully, to observe and feel, practically, the Changes and Hope well-articulated by this 171st and July 26, 2018 National Independence Day Orator of the new Government.
For, as indicated earlier, the Orator is politically well-connected very and the very powerful political player who is head of the nation’s treasury with the keys thereof.

OUR RECOMMENDATIONS FROM THE COMFORT OF MONROVIA CENTRAL PRISON 12 YEARS AGO:  COMPARED TO THE PREVAILING CONDITIONS OF TODAY – ECONOMIC PARALYSIS DUE MAINLY TO DUAL CITIZENSHIP AND CORRUPTION

On July 18, 2018, we reported President Weah’s Plan of Action designed to “rescue the nation’s Economy from the Great Beyond and the Liberian currency, the Liberian dollar, in ‘depreciation hot-pursuit’”, a devastating, negative impact on Liberian business and the purchasing power of the consumers, particularly, the poor, unemployed, hungry, often sick, un-informed, un-educated, etc., etc. average Liberian.


Specifically, the President identified the nation’s major economic problem that, “Our currency was (is) experiencing rapid and unprecedented depreciation, contributing to rising inflation. Unemployment was (is) very high and our foreign reserves were (and are) at an all-time low”:

1) “For many decades, we have incurred (foreign) trade deficits because we import more (goods and services) than we export”;

2) “Key to success in this endeavor is for Liberians (the Republic of Liberia) to produce more goods and services locally, so that we reduce (and eradicate) our importation of goods and services from abroad, while, at the same time increasing our exports and adding value to the raw materials that we ship to the world”;

3) “In this regard, our government intends to embark upon a major push to ensure that Liberia becomes more competitive in terms of domestic production . . . finding lasting solution to the macroeconomic challenges will take some time because nothing less than the structural transformation of the Liberian Economy will produce sustainable recovery and growth”.

Hence, the President’s request for patience in introducing the Government’s Economic Plan of Action:

“As a first step in this direction, we have placed emphasis and urgency on the formulation of a comprehensive development strategy . . . (which) will consist of short-term interventions, medium-term reforms, and long-term restructuring of the economy”.

“Over the next several weeks, the . . . Economic Management Team and . . . the CBL will announce a series of Monetary and Fiscal Policy measures that, we believe, should help reverse the decline of the value of the Liberian dollar. In seeking solutions to this problem, we intend to engage the minds of the best and brightest Liberian Economists . . .”

With this Plan of Action, the President retired a number of old-lined Economists, Technocrats and related professionals and brought in “the minds of the best and brightest Liberian Economists”, including the Honorable Nathaniel R. Patray, US trained Economist with more than 20 years of banking experience in Liberia with the National Bank of Liberia and Central Bank of Liberia.

Value of Currency, Major Economic Problem
The most major, vexing economic Problem today is the depreciation in the value of Liberian currency, the Liberian dollar with a devastating impact on the foreign exchange rate. It is significant to note, that although money/currency possesses no intrinsic (in and of itself) value in useful, human terms, but its worldwide acceptance as the medium of exchange for acquisition of human needs, goods and services desired in the marketplace gave or renders it social economic, politico-psychological value or that which has come to be known as “Storehouse of Value or Convertible Currency”.

But the Liberian currency, the Liberian dollar, does not possess or is without the recognition of international, Storehouse of value or Convertible Currency status, although declared a national currency “tied” or “pegged” to the court tails of the US dollar which circulates as legal tender with the Liberia dollar (a semi-official currency substitution, in the effort, apparently, to ease the peculiar conditions of developing countries’ inflations).

The major path to this Storehouse of Value or Convertible Currency of a country lies, among others, in the production of goods and services desired and demanded by other countries, the country’s trading partners and the general public. This, in fact, translates to demand for the Liberian currency by others and, thereby, renders it the status of Storehouse of value or Convertible Currency. But throughout its history, the Republic of Liberia has been involved in the use of foreign currencies as legal tender in circulation with Liberian currencies. The first foreign currency was the British Pound and later (1943), the United States Dollar up to this day.

The selection of a nation’s foreign exchange rate is not an issue of a “quick fix”. It is a serious undertaking/responsibility that requires graduate study and knowledge of the Theory of Macroeconomics and years of requisite training and experience; but its application as rational public policy measure is easier, since governments employ trained/experienced Economists as advisors.

 

The major, critical Question
Our Liberia is a small African nation of about 4 million, sparsely distributed, endowed with all natural resources and land (more land than people) for cultivation and production of tropical goods and services – cocoa, coffee, pineapples and juices, oranges and juices, rice, chickens and poultry products, banana, fish, plantains, etc., etc. for the export trade, such as the successful, neighboring countries of Ghana and La Cote d’Ivoire. What, then, is the Problem with Liberia since 1847? Major Sources are Dual Citizenship and Corruption:

Dual Citizenship
The major African-American Founding Fathers of the Liberian Nation, though deported to this land of their ancestors, were American citizens. Therefore, a majority kept their American citizenships.

Firstly, historical, emotional attachment to and preference of the US greenbacks by Liberia’s African-American Elites, the social, economic and political ruling Class that constitutes the sole, major public policy decision-making Body in Liberian society are not unexpected.

The secondly, it was, and is, their apparent, conscious refusal and negligence to plan organize, establish and develop industrial enterprises/organizations designed for the production and export of goods and services desired and demanded by the Americans and other nationals.

But, unfortunately, as Liberian citizens who have major public policy decision-making power and, simultaneously, citizens of a foreign countries (as it had been and is), it is in their best political and economic interest for Liberia to continue buying imported goods from the countries of their citizenships, infinitively and dangerously, rather than plan, organize, establish and develop local, industrial enterprises for production of goods and services for local consumption and export.

In time, the Congos and Indigenous Liberians (emerged/emerging Political Class) converted to African-Americanism by social-cultural “baptism” joined the Dual Citizenship bandwagon, recognizing its socio-economic and political benefits. Indigenous Liberian Dual Citizens now dominate the National Legislature in violation of Article 30 of the 1986 Constitution and Cllr. Jerome Korkoya as Chairman of the National Elections Commission, also, in violation of Liberia’s Statutory and Constitutional Laws, as the proven citizen of a foreign country.

Historically, moreover, dual citizens dominated and controlled the political economy of Liberia; they continue to dominate and control the economics, including the major decision-making power of Liberia today. Just take a closer look at LPRC, NPA, NOCAL, Liberia Revenue Authority (LRA), Ministry of Finance & Development Planning (MFDP), NIC, etc., etc. These are the enclaves for Dual Citizens. Fabulous salaries “earned” in Liberia are transferred, periodically, to countries of their citizenship to purchase and maintain homes and families permanently. They travelled, often, to these countries to which they pledged loyalty, allegiance, patriotism and in which the hold fabulous bank accounts.
Corruption, Graft & Greed
The prevailing economic paralysis in Liberia must be and is credited to dishonesty of Liberian Public officials who, obviously, have monopolized Corruption, the universal vice found on all continents, in every country, culture and society irrespective of social, economic and political development and affluence. The Liberian officials have been found profoundly wanting in their management and application of Monetary and Fiscal Policies with particular respect to:

a) Choice of a rational foreign exchange rate regime, choice of national currency as legal tender for circulation, management of commercial banks and related financial institutions with respect to general organizational responsibilities and funds transfer, money laundering, interest rates, etc.

b) National Budget, the major tool for manipulation of aggregate supply/demand and stimulation of the economy, the planning, organization, establishment and development of industrial enterprises/organizations for production of goods and services for local and export trade, a long-term undertaking.

Our Article of June, 2001
In June, 2001, we wrote, from the comforts of the Monrovia Central Prison and published (Analyst Liberia, June 2001) the article entitled “Now That We Printed New Liberian Banknotes. . . .”. In that article, we held, specifically that:

The Banknotes
The printing/circulation of the banknotes and the withdrawal of both the “Liberty” and “JJ” banknotes. The printing of such a huge quantity of banknotes at an un-disclosed and undoubtedly astronomical cost appeared to be unjustified, given the nation’s hairline financial position at the time. Particularly so when, upon separate advice by the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank (see Reports dated January/February 1994-95), the Interim Government of Liberia in 1993, declared the “JJ” banknotes illegal, ordered them withdrawn from circulation and replaced with new “Liberty” banknotes. This policy action was based on the massive looting of banks, financial and business houses during the civil war and, thereby, placed the “JJ” banknotes, then in lawful circulation, in excess, an economic recipe for price inflation.

In the light of this lawful and rational, economic policy measure, we had expected that the printing of banknotes would be limited only to the required quantity of “Liberty” banknotes to replace the illegal and highly mutilated “JJ” banknotes. However, we were taken aback not only by the double printing (“Liberty” and “JJ” banknotes), but also by the purchase-withdrawal rate of two newly-printed, “Liberty” $5 notes for one old, mutilated “JJ” $5 note, since there were no legal and valid, economic reasons given for this two-for-one exchange rate. Also, the “JJ” banknotes were an illegal currency, very highly mutilated; they were not, in any way, in relative high demand to justify premium exchange rate.

We were amazed, also, by the Central Bank’s announcement of policy action retaining the US dollar as legal tender to circulate in tandem with the Liberian, national currency, the Liberian dollar. It is not a sound economic policy for a nation having a national currency to adopt, circulate and utilize the national currency of another as a legal tender. Among the negative, economic consequences are the likelihood to attract economic shocks such as run-away price inflation, interest rates, unemployment, etc., into the adopting nation’s economy (see IMF/WB Reports, January 1982 & January/February 1994-95).

Short- to Mid-term Suggestions
In the light of the foregoing considerations, we made the following suggestions directed to and at selected areas of our “economy”. The implementation of these suggestions assumes that there will be comprehensive study, review and analysis designed for holistic, national economic recovery:

1. That all domestic transactions – public, commercial and personal – which take place within the territory of the Republic of Liberia shall be in Liberian currency only, and that the use of the US dollar as legal tender shall be discontinued.

2. That the “one-to-one” parity (equivalence) of one US dollar to one Liberian dollar be repealed; this rate does not reflect the outcome of the interaction of market forces and, therefore, unrealistic in economic terms.

3. Also that the level of imported goods and services bought with foreign currency be controlled and reduced through import tariff levies. Commodities such as soft drinks, beer, stout (also produced in the country) and tobacco products (proved to be injurious to health); other expensive alcoholic beverages (also known to be injurious to health); and expensive, luxury automobiles, jewelry, etc., should be subjected to tariff manipulation to discourage import of these commodities. The control and, therefore, reduction of the level of import of the described goods and services will yield the following, economic benefits:

a. Reduce the pressure on the nation’s meager foreign exchange reserves, with priority attention placed on the import of “essential commodities such as pharmaceuticals, petroleum products and educational materials and supplies.

b. These measures will also reduce and eventually eliminate fierce competition on the Liberian market between “made-in-Liberia” products – soft drinks, beer, stout, etc. – and imported commodities often subsidized by foreign governments. This competition is highly likely to force the Liberian products out of the market and, eventually, drive the Liberian producer out of business, resulting to unemployment.

Importantly, the application of the foregoing measures will reduce, significantly, the unnecessary, excessive demand for foreign currency to purchase, also, unnecessary, imported goods and services. It is, indeed, this excessive demand for foreign currency that drives up the foreign exchange rate which, in turn, drives up commodity prices and, thus, causes the general price inflation. This economic spiral bears the major responsibility for the economic hardships that affect all Liberian, salary/wage earners and consumers. This price inflation, due to the rise of the foreign exchange rate, comes about because:

c. The more and more a given commodity is demanded by consumers, the higher and higher the price of that commodity rises; the foreign exchange rate is a price, a price paid in Liberian dollars for a US dollar, British pound, German mark, the CFA, etc.

d. Therefore, the more and more of the foreign currencies are demanded by Liberian consumers in order to purchase importable goods and services, the higher and higher the prices (or foreign exchange rates) rise.

e. Thus, we have seen and experienced that from a three-Liberian-dollar to one US-dollar exchange rate in early 1989, the exchange rate now stands at 64:1 in favor of the US dollar and rising. In other words, the Liberian consumer now pays a great deal more than twenty times for the same quantity and quality of goods and service bought in 1989; this prevailing condition raised the cost of living while, simultaneously, holding income constant at the depreciating or depreciated, Liberian dollar value; thereby, depreciating, also, or drastically reducing consumer buying power, a triple economic tragedy!!!

4. Abolish, by law, the inflationary pricing and sale of goods and services in foreign currency within the territory of the Republic. Examples are used and new automobiles, electric power generators, electric current, ice boxes and freezers, mobile and land telephone equipment, taxes, rent and lease payments, real estate and (including land) pricing, the list goes on and on. But Salaries and wages are paid in Liberian currency.

5. Why are Liberians required to purchase goods and services in foreign currency? Since the Central Bank of Liberia has established and monitors a foreign exchange bureau or the parallel market foreign exchange system, it is extremely necessary that this service, critical to foreign trade and commerce, be removed from the hands of individuals who are not relevantly trained and experienced.

6. Currency traders should and must be organized in accordance with law, with reporting/accountability responsibilities to the Central Bank and the Ministry of Finance.

7. Require, by law, that all export earnings or proceeds thereof be repatriated to Liberia, deposited in accounts held by the exporter in Liberian banks and in the currency in which payments for such exports were made. This action will and should control, through efficient management of the supply/demand/allocation of foreign currency in the effort to facilitate legitimate, economic activities.

8. The mind-boggling escalation of the nation’s foreign exchange rate sent shock waves throughout the economy with a chilling, negative impact on the buying power of the Liberian consumer. The President of Liberia was so moved and concerned that he Decreed the rising rate of 64:1 (64 Liberian dollars to one US dollar) be dropped to the low of 50:1. This was done with “immediate effect”, April 2002.

That there should and must now, 2018 and thereafter, be demand/supply-determined foreign exchange rate regime in Liberia, efficiently managed and controlled by the Central Bank, we argue.

This article was written 12 years ago with dual citizen-policy makers. The overwhelming majority of the prevailing officials are not only disloyal and unpatriotic, but also, dual citizens and corrupt!!

Russia offers training for African Editors From Kester Kenn Klomegah, Moscow

Russia's Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA), collaborating with Ministry of Communications, Diplomatic Academy and the Institute for African Studies, plans to launch a short orientation and training programme for senior editors working in the state media organissations in African countries.


The media initiative came up as a follow up to Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s discussions during his African tour early March about rolling out a comprehensive strategic roadmap for a more integrated cooperation and find effective ways of improving public diplomacy in Africa.

On May 16, Sergey Lavrov chaired the Foreign Ministry Collegium meeting on the subject “Cooperation with Sub-Saharan African countries as part of implementing important tasks of Russian foreign policy.”

The meeting noted that the consolidation of versatile ties with the Sub-Saharan African countries remains a major part of Russia’s foreign policy strategy, which is acquiring special significance in the context of deep changes in the global arena.

The MFA has released an official document, available to its website, titled “Concept of the Russian Federation on Cooperation with African Media” stresses the need to cooperate with African media as Russia looks forward to strengthening relations and share strategic interests with Africa on international arena.

According to the MFA “the Russian Federation is implementing programmes of cooperation with various African countries which include education, culture, art, the media and sport.”

The Russian Government supports the pilot programme and will be organised for African media groups in two phases: in October and in May, and planned for a two-year period from 2018 to 2020.

The participants from this pilot programme will be at the forefront to highlight or propagate post-Soviet economic and cultural reality, shape the African perception about Russia and raise Russia’s image and reputation among the political and business community and the general population in Africa.

Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, this is the first significant step on media cooperation by the official authorities to address the information gap between the two regions. The initiative particularly seeks to bridge the widening business information gap that has existed and might help strengthen bilateral relations between Africa and Russia.

Experts have acknowledged that, for Russia, there are important geopolitical implications working with Africa and unreservedly praised Russia’s initiative for creating this mechanism for media cooperation and for more diversified aspects of its policy with Africa.

Canadian-Nigerian Professor O. Igho Natufe, Head of Ukraine-African Study Center in Kiev, says looking into the future it is important to continue approaching the relationship beyond natural resources and the economy, and to include soft power, so the move will boost the overall relationship in the long-term since the media has a huge role to play.

Undoubtedly, Natufe further explains that frequent exchange of visits by Russian and African journalists as well as regular publications of economic and business reports could help create public business awareness and raise, to an appreciable level, the understanding of the relationship between Russia and Africa.

Earlier, Dr Olga Kulkova, a Research Fellow at the Moscow based Center for the Study of Russian-African Relations, Institute for African Studies, also pointed out that “more quality information about modern Russia should be reported in Africa. Indisputably, it might take a lot of money and efforts, but the result will pay off.”

“It is excellent to adequately collaborate with African partners and attract Russian business to Africa. Russia ought to take this into account, if it wants to improve the chances for success in Africa,” Kulkova said.

Professor Gerrit Olivier from the Department of Political Science, University of Pretoria in South Africa, noted that “Russian influence in Africa, despite efforts towards resuscitation, remains marginal. The cultural gap (language in particular) is a great handicap. The official visits are mainly opening moves and symbolic and have little long-term concrete results.”

While prioritising Africa now, Russia has to do more, particularly, in the cultural-intellectual field (like China, EU and US) with a view to the longer term and work on its image problem in Africa, Professor Olivier, who previously served as South African Ambassador to the Russian Federation from 1991 to 1996, wrote in an email comment from Pretoria, South Africa.

For decades, a number of foreign countries have been cooperating with African media to push their strategic policy interests. For example, the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation has fixed China-Africa Press Exchange Center in Shanghai to encourage and promote exchange and visits between Chinese and African media.

In June 2018, China held the Fourth Forum on China-Africa Media Cooperation. A Joint Statement on Further Deepening Exchanges and Cooperation was adopted. During the Johannesburg summit held in 2015, President Xi Jinping said China would implement access to satellite TV for 10,000 African villages and provide training for 1,000 media professionals from Africa.

DEPRECIATION OF THE LIBERIAN FOREIGN EXCHANGE RATE  (CURRENCY OF THE LIBERIAN DOLLAR): ONE OF THE (MOST NEGATIVE) CRITICAL ISSUES OF OUR TIMES

Introduction
Throughout its history, Liberia has been involved in the use of foreign currencies as legal tender in circulation with Liberian currencies. The first foreign currency was the British Pound and later (1944), the United States Dollar up to this day.


Selection of a nation’s foreign exchange rate is not an issue of a “quick fix”. It is a serious matter that requires graduate study and knowledge of the proven Theory of Macroeconomics and years of requisite training and experience; but its application as rational public policy measure is easier, since governments employ trained/experienced Economists as advisors.

But we noted today July 11, 2018, that the Governance Commission (GC), Liberia’s powerful all-public policy Advisor, announced that “it will hold a Policy Dialogue on the state of the country’s currency today (New Democrat, July 11, 2018) on the theme ‘Factors impacting Liberia’s Foreign Exchange rate Regime’”, just at the time when the Liberian nation is deeply-plunged in a “messy economy” and concerned about prevailing depreciation of its foreign exchange rate, has been so concerned for long. Is this a GC Quick fix?

Article in Response
This article is in response to “Liberia: How Messy (national) Economy Could be saved” (Front Page, July 10, 2018) with respect to the continuing depreciation of the Liberian currency. Earlier, our article entitled, “Single-Currency Bill Submitted” (Analyst Liberia, April 28, 2014), was, also, a response to a Bill submitted to the National Legislature of the same title.

In that response, we wrote that “depreciation of the Liberia dollar has been, and is, the concerns of the Liberian people, including producers, consumers, CBL monetary policy Authorities; Fiscal, Ministry of Finance & Development Planning, the National Legislature, etc.; and that it was these concerns – the perennial, ever-present depreciation or decrease in the value of the Liberian dollar with the results of disastrous price inflation - that gave rise to the proposed Bill”.

This condition, we held, is the outcome of the interaction of the free-market forces of demand and supply of goods and services in the marketplaces of local, national, international, economic activities – trade and commerce - based on proven Theory of Economics which holds, that the more, and more a commodity is demanded by consumers, the higher and higher the price of that commodity rises.

Now, in international trade and commerce, countries, business organizations and individuals, as consumers who desire to purchase goods and services from other countries need and must have the money/currency of the “other countries” in order to purchase desired goods and services. That is, that consumers must, first, purchase the money/currency of these other countries from banks or foreign exchange traders at a rate known as the Foreign exchange rate, a money/currency exchange rate regime established and maintained by, almost, all trading countries.

At this point, the foreign exchange rate of the exporting countries (USA, in our case, for example) has become and is, now, a commodity demanded more and more by consumers - Liberia, in this case - to purchase and import more and more of US goods and services. Therefore, the price of the US foreign exchange rate rises or has risen, in terms of or relative to the Liberian dollar, and that Liberia must, now, come up with more Liberia dollars per US dollar. Thus, the depreciation or decrease in value of the Liberian dollar and the buying power of the individual, Liberian consumer.

Value of Money/Currency
It is important to note, significantly, that although money/currency possesses no intrinsic (in and of itself) value in useful, human terms, but its worldwide acceptance as the medium of exchange for goods and services desired in the marketplace of economic activities, gave and renders it socio-cultural, economic, politico-psychological value or that which has come to be known as “Storehouse of Value or Convertible Currency”. But the Liberian currency, the Liberian dollar, does not possess or is without the recognition of international, Storehouse of value or Convertible Currency status, but declared a national currency “tied” or “pegged” to the court tails of the US dollar which circulates as legal tender with the Liberia dollar (a semi-official currency substitution, in the effort, apparently, to ease the peculiar conditions of developing countries’ inflations).

The major path to this Storehouse of Value or Convertible Currency of a country lies, among others, in the production of goods and services desired and demanded by other countries, that country’s trading partners and the general public. In other words, storehouse of value or convertibility depends on production of goods and services desired and demanded by other countries. This, in fact, is or translates to demand for the Liberian currency by others and, thereby, renders it the status of Storehouse of value or Convertible Currency.

Summary, Re-Statement of the Foregoing
We hold that depreciation or decrease in the value of a nation’s currency with result of price inflation are:

a) Expected outcome of the interaction of the free-market forces of Supply and demand consistent with the Theory of Economics;
b) That according to the Theory of Economics, the more and more a commodity is demanded, the higher and higher the price of that commodity rises, and that an exchange rate is the price paid by one country for the currency of other and, a commodity as well.
c) That a country which produces goods and services demanded more and more by other consumer-countries is the country whose exchange rate appreciates and currency increases in value; and
d) That conversely, the country which produces no goods and services but depends, excessively, on imported goods and services, as in the case of Liberia, is or will be the country whose exchange rate will continue to depreciate with decrease in the value of its currencies and price inflation.

Resolution of the Immediate Condition
In the light of the criticality of the prevailing condition what is or are the possible resolutions?
As indicated earlier, there are pre-conditions to the possibility of resolutions.

Pre-Conditions for Possible Resolution of Liberian Currency Depreciation
The satisfaction of these Pre-Conditions requires two, basic approaches (A), Production for Local Consumption and (B), Production for export Trade

A. Production for Local Consumption

a) Form, organize and develop industrial enterprises for production of goods and services for local consumption. This approach will discourage, reduce and, eventually, eliminate Liberia’s excessive and dangerous dependence on imports. Local production of food - rice (our staple), cooking oil, sugar; orange, pineapple, tomato juices, etc; coffee, cocoa, mineral water, poultry products, cumber, leaf lettuce, plantain, banana, fish & fish-farming, cassava, yams, pawpaw, plums, etc., etc.

b) Other products for local consumption include Liberian clothes, furniture (made here by Liberians with Liberian wood), trained/experienced talent – vocational, academic/intellectual – scientific, technological, IT, for example.

B. Production for export Trade

a) Form, organize and develop industrial enterprises for production of goods and services for the export Trade – all tropical products – plantain, banana, rice, palm oil, Pineapples; pineapple, orange, tomato juices, etc.; coffee, cocoa, cassava, yams, cucumber, timber, rubber, furniture, including iron ore, oil & gas, gold, diamond, etc., etc.

b) Why not manufacture tires from our rubber and steel products from iron ore that we produce?
These are not quick fixes. They are long-term endeavors which require long-term commitments. As such, this is not unexpected. Given the long-term nature of some of the projects, they cannot be satisfactorily addressed over-night. It will require sustained and durable efforts; structures development, process refinement, further consultations, planning and programming, and resource mobilization.

But in the absence of these examples – organized production for local consumption and the export trade – Liberia’s foreign exchange rate will continue to depreciate, the nation’s Terms of Trade will continue to deteriorate due Liberia’s increasing demand for imports, according to CBL Executive Governor, “since the beginning of 2013 the exchange rate has come under pressure with a depreciation of more than 8% due largely to 17% deterioration in Liberia’s Terms of Trade and increased demand on (or for) imports” (New Democrat, December 9, 2013).

The realization of points A and B above depend upon the necessary, enabling, infrastructure - all-weather roads/highways - for organization/establishment of organizations/enterprises for productions of Liberian goods and services. This requires priority, public policy diligently developed and implemented.

"Struggle Beyond words"

Struggle beyond words describes the current status of the Liberian economy; which is reportedly "causing hardship for scores of Liberians"; due to reported "fake inflation" allegedly created by self-styled, anti-government supporters and counterfeit- makers, whose intend is to demonize the Weah's led government.


The hike in the prices of important consumable and non-consumable commodities on the Liberian market need urgent attention because; self-proclaimed patriots and fake- money producers, who are allegedly "supporting the artificial increase in the prices of essential commodities, are using this unbearable situation against the Liberian society and its people; so as to gain undue popularity and ill -gotten wealth; which is totally troubling".

The continuous depreciation of the Liberian dollars due to huge rush for the United States dollars in Liberia needs urgent attention from the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning, Central Bank of Liberia and other institutions, void of politics.

Even though this government is making meaningful efforts to improve all sectors of our country in a short period; it is sensible that the Weah's led administration should focus on revamping the struggling Liberian economy; which needs urgent attention beyond words.

I stand to be corrected, it can be recalled that "financial experts and others expressed disappointment against the past government for its controversial monetary policy"; which created room for printing of new Liberian dollars or bank notes.

The popular call which was announced by the Liberian Senate during the past government that mandated Milton Week' leadership to vigorously remove all old Liberian dollars from the local market has allegedly not been "fully implemented, due to unknown reasons".

However, it is unclear, if the Senate requested a report from the Central Bank of Liberia (CBL) regarding the mandate to remove old Liberian dollars from the local market; an issue that created debate before the recent resignation of former Central Bank of Liberia Executive Governor, Milton Weeks.

It is an open secret that CBL has qualified and competent staff members, and has made tremendous effort to improve the Liberian economy from "US$80 million reserve in 2006 to an appreciable level; which is one of the reported factors that led to the construction of the new Central Bank of Liberia building, and improvement in Liberia's gross Domestic Product (GDP), before the deadly Ebola Virus Disease outbreak in 2014."

It can also be recalled that the past government repeatedly said, the Ebola Virus Disease outbreak, the decline in the prices of iron ore and rubber, coupled with the withdrawal of the United Nation Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) peacekeeping troops, are some of contributing factors that have reportedly declined the Liberian economy.

However, the decline in the Liberian economy which was repeatedly publicized by the past government; could be one of the factors that allegedly led to "constant budget shortfall during the administration of Amara Konneh, former Minister of Finance and development planning."

Another issue of serious focus looks at Liberia, a country that has an economy; which is import-driven, a dangerous economic path that needs to be changed; so as to overhaul the entire country's economy.

"The millions of Liberian dollars, controversial loans which were allegedly given to individuals and institutions by former Central Bank of Liberia, Executive Governor, Dr. J. Mill Jones who was popularly called "poverty doctor;" by recipients of his loans, should not be ignored; regarding the nonstop depreciation of the Liberian dollars against the United States dollars.

Dr. Jones argued with the Senate and others that his monetary policy to empower Liberian institutions was 'intended to stabilize the country's economy'.
He is reportedly on record of saying: 'I am not giving the money to aliens or foreigners, but Liberians,' one of the famous response or answers of the former CBL's Executive Governor, who contested in the 2017 presidential elections.

Have the CBL submitted the report requested by the Liberian Senate, about how much Liberian dollars or banknotes are currently in circulation?Therefore, we need to empower the Liberia Electricity Corporation to improve its service delivery, with reliable and affordable electrical power; which can attract local, international investors and others, if Liberia has stable electricity.

Big thanks to the United States of America, friendly countries, and others for their financial and technical support to LEC; in providing electricity in some parts of Liberia, which is commendable.However, robust step needs to be taken in reducing power theft; which is one of the major challenges leading to the inability of LEC to expand its services in all parts of Montserrado County and Liberia at large.

Also the hosting of economic/financial submit by the Central Bank of Liberia , Ministry of Finance and Development Planning ,and others ; which could help in reducing the huge economic burden currently facing the Liberian society and its people, cannot be overemphasized.

The expected gathering can bring together former Ministers of Finance, governors, financial experts from World Bank, International Monetary Fund (IMF), local commercial banks, Liberian business actors, foreign business practitioners, and others, in brainstorming on issues affecting the Liberian economy; way forward, which could be in the best interest of the country and its people.

I am also aware that the Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf's led government constituted a committee, headed by a renowned financial expert, Tyron A. Brown to study the burdens facing the Liberian economy.

Where is that report or findings, if the study was conducted by the team constituted by the past government, headed by a Harvard trained economist (ex-President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf).

Finally, the empowerment of Liberia National Police, Liberia Immigration Service, Drug Enforcement Agency, agents of National Security Agency (NSA), and others, to enhance their intelligence operations; in getting useful information against counterfeit-makers, illegal individuals and institutions, whose aim focus on depreciation the Liberian dollars, which is badly affecting the country's economy.Disclaimer: The views expressed here represent me, and have no connection with any individual or institution, I have association with.

By Martin Blayon

Russia to host RAU Summit

Faced with persistent criticisms, Russia has finally announced it will most likely host the first high-level Russia-African Union forum next year, a replica or a carbon copy of Forum on China Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) or European Union–African Union summit, signaling its readiness to work towards deepening and strengthening multifaceted engagement with Africa.


Working on a new paradigm collaboratively with African Union, Russia hopes to fill up pitfalls and cracks in the existing relationship, reinforce diplomatic ties and raise its staggering economic profile on the continent similar to the levels of China, India, Japan, South Korea, Turkey, U.S. and Europe.

On his official visit to Rwanda early June, Foreign Affairs Minister Sergey Lavrov hinted that the forum rolls out a comprehensive strategic roadmap for more economic cooperation and wide-range of investment possibilities, find effective ways of addressing regional security issues and that of improving public diplomacy in Africa.

“We discussed Russia’s idea of holding a large African Union business forum with AU member states and Russia to be attended by entrepreneurs and politicians, possibly next year,” Lavrov said at a media conference after meeting with Minister of Foreign Affairs, Cooperation and East African Community Louise Mushikiwabo in Kigali, Rwanda.

“We have agreed to prepare a framework political document that will set out a concept for cooperation in the next few years and also several practical projects for implementation in the near future. We are now preparing for a meeting of Russian and AU experts,” he assertively added.

Just before his African tour early March, Lavrov also told Hommes d’Afrique magazine “we carefully study the practice of summits between African countries and their major partners abroad. At present, Russia’s relations with African countries are progressing both on a bilateral basis and along the line of African regional organisations, primarily the African Union and the Southern African Development Community.”

In the interview posted to MFA website, he said “our African friends note the need for Russia’s active presence in the region, and more frequently express interest in holding a Russia-African summit. Such a meeting would undoubtedly help deepen our cooperation on the full range of issues. However, it is necessary to bear in mind that arranging an event of such a scale with the participation of over 50 Heads of State and Government requires most careful preparation, including in terms of its substantive content.”

Lavrov acknowledged in the interview: “The economic component of the summit has a special significance in this relation as it would be of practical interest for all the parties. As such, specific Russian participants in bilateral or multilateral cooperation should be identified, which are not only committed to long-term cooperation but are also ready for large-scale investments in the African markets with account of possible risks and high competition. Equally important are African businesspeople who are looking to work on the Russian market.”

On May 16, Lavrov chaired the Foreign Ministry Collegium meeting on the subject “Cooperation with Sub-Saharan African countries as part of implementing important tasks of Russian foreign policy.” The meeting noted that the consolidation of versatile ties with the Sub-Saharan African countries remains a major part of Russia’s foreign policy strategy, which is acquiring special significance in the context of deep changes in the global arena.

Some experts and researchers have, of course, identified low enthusiasm and lack of coordinated mechanism as key factors affecting cooperation between Russia and African countries, and suggested that this trend could be reversed if both Russian authorities and African governments get down regularly to serious dialogue with concrete business agenda.

Nearly a decade ago, Themba Mhlongo, Head of Programmes at the Southern Africa Trust, said in an emailed interview that “there is no effective Russia-African dialogue or mechanism for dialoguing with Africa. On the other hand, Russia has not been as aggressive as China in pursuing opportunities in Africa because Russia has natural resources and markets in Eastern Europe, South West Asia. Russia’s key exports to Africa might only be dominated by machinery and military equipment which serves their interest well.”

He suggested that Africa must also engage all BRICS members equally including Brazil and Russia in order to build alliances and open trade opportunities including finance and investment opportunities, African countries must not seem to show preferences in their foreign policy in favour of western Europe if they want to benefit from trade relations with Russia.

Tellingly, Vadim Trofimovich Kirsanov, an African Affairs Advisor at the Regional Projects Department of Russkiy Mir Foundation, (non-profit Russian NGO that promotes Russian language, literature and culture abroad), in an interview with Buziness Africa media, discusses the significance of developing bilateral ties not only in economic sphere but also in culture, exchange of people and ideas in the social sphere.

“We must use the full potential interest in Russian culture, Russian language, mutual sympathy and interest between the peoples of Africa and Russia, a great desire of Russians and Africans to visit each other to make friends, establish new connections. That’s where public diplomacy becomes an effective instrument for supporting business dialogue,” he said.

Kirsanov noted: use new opportunities for mutually beneficial cooperation open to the accession of South Africa to BRICS group (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa), taking into account the economic impact of South Africa on the African continent and the world at large. Besides the intensification of dialogue with the African Union (AU), the Russian authorities have the development of multilateral cooperation among African countries with Russian Federation.

Professor Gerrit Olivier from the Department of Political Science, University of Pretoria in South Africa, noted that Russian influence in Africa, despite efforts towards resuscitation, remains marginal. While, given its global status, it ought to be active in Africa as Western Europe, the European Union, the United States and China are, it is all but absent, playing a negligible role.

“Russia, of course, is not satisfied with this state of affairs. At present diplomacy dominates its approach: plethora of agreements have been signed with South Africa and various other states in Africa, official visits from Moscow proliferate apace, but the outcomes remain hardly discernible,” Professor Olivier, previously served as South African Ambassador to the Russian Federation, wrote in an email comment from Pretoria, South Africa.

Be as it may, he indicated further that “the Kremlin has revived its interest in the African continent and it will be realistic to expect that the spade work it is putting in now will at some stage show more tangible results.”

In his assessment, Rex Essenowo, a Moscow-based Economic Policy Analyst, pointed out to a known and well-established fact, which Russians have always shrugged off, that there have been many summits and conferences between the United States, EU and Asian states with Africa, but there has yet to be a single high-level Russia-African summit.

However, he believes that all was not yet lost, there is still an unexplored chance to strengthen Russia’s relationship with Africa if, for example, African countries work collectively together as AU to focus on improving all aspects of Russia-African relationship.

Large investments and comprehensive approach, similar to the Chinese, would help to bridge the economic and political gap between Russia and the African continent, Essenowo said, and reminded that Russia is very much involved in educating and/or training professionals who are playing key roles and could serve as excellent useful links between Russia and Africa. Russia has ignored this valuable product in its diplomacy with Africa.

Interesting, BRICS countries are vigorously moving into Africa and now three BRICS members: Russia is planning, India and China are also preparing for summits next year with Africa. As already publicly known, all previous summits held by many foreign countries with Africa, there were concrete financial packages earmarked towards infrastructure development in Africa.

From Russia’s perspective, there are undeniable important geopolitical implications working with Africa. Nevertheless, Russia’s efforts in the region have been limited thus far which some experts attributed to lack of a system of financing policy projects. While Russia government is very cautious about making financial commitments, Russia’s financial institutions are not closely involved in foreign policy initiatives in Africa.

Experts and researchers have recommended one new initiative that will largely interest African leaders, that is for Russia to create a Russian Development Fund for Africa (RDfA) as an agency to manage and run projects as business for Russia in Africa while Russian International Affairs Council (RIAC) could become the key organiser and coordinator of future Russia-African Union summits. *Kester Kenn Klomegah frequently writes on Russia, Africa and BRICS

By Kester Kenn Klomegah

“I DON’T KNOW WHAT LIBERIANS WANT”

“If you elect me President, I will build your roads . . . if you don’t want Road and good healthcare system, let me know”: – President Weah
OUR ANSWERS, OPEN LETTER TO PRESIDENT WEAH

Monrovia
June 17, 2018

H. E. George M. Weah
President, Republic of Liberia
The Executive Mansion
Capitol Hill, Monrovia

Mr. President:

It is our honor to present sincere greetings, compliments of our highest esteem and privilege to invite Your Excellency’s attention to our suggested/recommended answers to your question raised as indicated above.

In your understandable frustration over criticism, as President of Liberia, you lashed out, angrily, at the multitude of the critics who question the quality and style of your political leadership with your statement, “I don’t know what Liberians want . . .”

You were born about some 50 years ago and raised in Clara Town, northeast of Monrovia, one of the City’s Slum enclaves; so, You (Mr. George Opon Manneh Weah) need no lecture on illiteracy, education, lack of general information; poverty, hunger, unemployment, over-crowdedness and congestion; lack of healthcare, electricity, safe drinking water, unsanitary living conditions, high crime without police protection; lack of ethnic/tribal, socio-cultural, traditional identity, in terms of tribal dialect, etc.; and above all, the incidence of corruption or public dishonesty, described by the former President as “Liberia’s public enemy no.1”.

The theme of your campaign as candidate for President of Liberia was “Change, you will cry no more” and, also, since your election, you have announced and adopted a “Pro-Poor Agenda”, although you have been in office for less than a year – barely 6 months.

I pen this Open Letter to you, Mr. President, suggesting/recommending answers to your question because of my hope and wish that You, Mr. George Weah, must not fail for obvious reasons. Firstly, your credibility as President of Liberia, expressed by action, is on the line. State success, failure and your survival as President are all tied to your credibility.

 

Local, national and, particularly, international support (mainly economic in billions of US dollars) depends upon your credibility.

You see, Mr. President, that in any democratic political community that is committed to the rule of law and in which mind-boggling illegal acts of atrocious summary executions, group massacres, genocides, human rights violations, rapes, maiming, thievery and corruption were committed without trial, as was the case in the Republic of Liberia, a legal house-cleaning effort for the arrest, trial of the suspected and punishment of the guilty are required, demanded, indeed mandated. This effort sends out the message, loud and clear, that there is, will and shall be, no preferential treatment or immunity, given to anyone, irrespective of position and standing in the community. Legal house-cleaning, Sir, is and will be your major test of your credibility.

Truth & Reconciliation Commission (TRC)
Thus, the TRC approach, based on the successful experience of the Republic of South Africa, was adopted and passed into law in Liberia as the reasonable option for peace and security in post-conflict Liberia that this necessity demands - open, free and fair trials of suspected human rights violators, punishment of the guilty and amnesty granted the guilty, remorseful violators to whom such amnesty was due, a transitional justice approach, from conflict to modern, peaceful democratic rule.

But the-then President and former President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf was surrounded by suspected war criminals and supporters who held powerful political and economic positions, including law enforcement – police, military and other security-related portfolios, lawyers, prosecutors, judges, political party leaders, private corporate officials, etc., with high level of public dishonesty or corruption within her government. In fact, her success as the leading politician and survival of her presidency depended, exclusively, upon the support and cooperation of war, economic and corruption crimes suspects. As such, they enjoyed, continue to enjoy to this day, characteristic immunity or “impunity” from prosecution.

Given this reality, implementation of the TRC Recommendations with War Crime Court on ground, in Liberia, was unreasonable and, therefore, unacceptable to Mrs. Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf and supporters, because it meant prosecution and possible long-term imprisonment. Therefore, the Report was side-lined on shelves in the offices of the suspected war criminals where it gathered and is gathering dust during the past 12 years, while the suspects of war & economic crimes are awarded high-level positions with “Honorable” titles.

Now Your current, George Weah Government
Your Administration may be likened to President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf’s Government and the retired Mrs. Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf’s “king-maker” political “don” in many respects, although You, Mr.George Weah, were not involved in any aspect of the war nor connected to rebellious war crimes, but:

a) As Candidate-for-President you “became too friendly with Mr. Charles Taylor for comfort” not only for the majority of the Liberian population who suffered the impact of his “Jungle Justice” rule and that the former President is a war criminal serving a 50-year term for war crimes against humanity, but also, that sub-regional leaders of the West African Sub-Region are, also, unhappy and suspicious with your associations.

b) Now, your Cabinet is dominated by senior, political loyalists and others appointed by former President Sirleaf who, reportedly, is the power behind your Presidential throne with you having been compromised, also reportedly, with support and campaign contribution by the former President Sirleaf in return for protection from prosecution for war crime allegations; and

c) Your Excellency is, also, surrounded with graduates of the civil war (child soldiers who survived the dangers of toting AK-47s and deadly RPGs) and by important political officials – judges and members of the National Legislatures, all suspected war criminals, who hold the key to your presidency. For example, these officials include members of the Legislature dominated by war, economic and corruption crime suspects - senators and representatives who were supporters-fighters of Charles Taylor’s NPFL/INPFL and members of his National Patriotic Party. Some of these members were “elected” from small communities excised or extracted from existing Counties and bestowed “county” status without legal merit, but only for political and economic reasons.

There are other suspected war, economic and corruption criminals, like in the past (of the Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf government), who held/hold powerful political and economic positions, including law enforcement – police, military, related security officials, lawyers, prosecutors, judges, political party leaders, private corporate officials, etc., including, also, the highest level of public dishonesty or corruption than any other government of Liberia in the past within Your Excellency’s government.

In the light of the foregoing conditions, it would be an illusion to expect implementation of the TRC Recommendations by placing the War Crime Court on-ground, in Liberia, repetition of the past 12 years. But, Mr. President, make no mistake about the demand for war and economic crimes trials – the demand has grown, growing and that it is highly likely to be held.

Our Suggested/Recommended Answers to Your Question
In the light of the foregoing and the reality of the prevailing conditions on the ground in Liberia, as in the past, we recommend the following answers for Your Excellency’s consideration/implementation, that:

1) Firstly, you should and must summon the political will and “guts” to distance You and your government/administration from the war and economic crime (corruption) suspects. Begin this process by rooting out and freeing the Weah Government from entrapment by the Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf loyalists and others who dominate the Weah administration. Significantly, arrest and turn over all war and economic (corruption) crime suspects to the International Criminal Court (ICC) at The Hague for free, fair and open trials.

Indeed, this decision-action will earn and guarantee your government the International Community’s support led by Liberia’s most major historical benefactor and political ally, the USA, to arrest and turn over the suspects of war, economic and corruption crimes to the (ICC). For, it was this support (mainly economic, in hundreds of millions of US dollars) that convinced Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf to turn over her appointed war-front commander and ally, Mr. Charles Taylor, to the ICC for trial; the rest is history;

2) Left to Decision of Your Excellency’s entrapped, current government on the ground in Liberia and placing War Crime Court, also, on ground in Liberia, will not be only repetition of the past 12-year illusion, but also, in support of Ellen Johnson-Sileaf’s ear-shattering silence in support of AU condemnation and threat of withdrawal from the ICC, Africa’s only salvation and protection from war (crimes of human rights violations of genocide and related crimes against African humanity), economic and corruption crimes. The prevailing Liberian socio-political and economic conditions merit ICC intervention; for, the ICC was created, exactly and precisely, to remedy such conditions;

3) Therefore, Sir, you must arrest and turn over all bigwigs and related major-crime suspects – ACDL’s Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf warlord, Toga McIntosh, Dr. Amos Sawyer, etc.; INPFL’s General Prince Johnson; NPFL’s General Charles Bright, etc.; Maritime Commission’s Benoni Urey and LISCR agents for purchase of arms and ammunitions for the civil war (now Liberia Maritime Authority) and LISCR agents now in Monrovia and their (LISCR’S) recently-reported stolen US $123 million of Liberia Maritime Authority’s funds hiding behind their Legal Counsel (the already indicted Varney Sherman); and reported “ghost (of departed Minister of State for Presidential Affairs, McClain) payment of US $207,277 on behalf (reportedly) of Ellen’s Lobbyist Public Relations” to a Washington, D.C. KRL firm out of Liberian public resources;

4) Beak up or dismantle the Super Ministry of Finance and Development Planning (MF&DP) from the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Planning & Economic Affairs – separate paymaster from planner/doer, to prevent the classic, patent conflict-of-interest approach. The Ministry of Finance, now given a wider terrain with political power, influence and control, has been and is, the most historically-dishonest, corrupt agency of government. It is now over-paid and overstaffed with dual citizens who do not live in Liberia but with families living permanently in foreign countries and travel often to these counties at enormous cost to the public resources; they are provided housing, transport, electricity generators with service allowances, although they plan and develop nothing but collect payments from those that they pay nationally (retained from counties’ socio-economic development allocations).

5) Mr. President, please pay close attention to and evaluate/restructure the Ministry of Finance’s former Section, Bureau of Revenue, the now Liberia Revenue Authority (LRA). It has been, and is the nation’s second-most historically-dishonest and corrupt agency of government and may be re-named, Liberia Stealing Authority. The agency is, also, over-paid and over-staffed with dual citizens who do not live in Liberia. Its close association with the National Social Security & Welfare Corporation (NASSCORP) MD is cause for concern. Indeed, it is about time that you consider retirement of NASSCORP MD in the light of his payment of large sums of money to several politicians, including the recent, reported, payment to Honorable Harrison Karnwea of Nimba County that raised eye-brows on the internet.

6) The Public Procurement & Concession Commission (PPCC), General Service Agency (GSA) and Ministry of Finance & Development Planning (MF&DP) have not, yet, accounted for the US $5M, some 300 vehicles and medical supplies donated to Liberia for the Ebola Emergency. Some of the vehicles and medical supplies were found in Saclepia, Nimba County market for sale. It is about time, Mr. President, to arrest the GSA MD, the Executive Director of the corrupt PPCC for prosecution by the ICC and replace the entire PPC Commission members. The so-called Ministry of Finance & Development Planning must be re-structured as indicated at Item 4.

Sincerely yours,

Bai M. Gbala, Sr.
Bai M. Gbala, Sr.
ACTIVE, MOST SENIOR CITIZEN-ELDER
GRAND GEDEH COUNTY COUNCIL OF ELDERS, INC.

H. E. George M. Weah President, Republic of Liberia

Mr. President:

It is our honor to present sincere greetings, compliments of our highest esteem and privilege to invite Your Excellency’s attention to our suggested/recommended answers to your question raised as indicated above.


In your understandable frustration over criticism, as President of Liberia, you lashed out, angrily, at the multitude of the critics who question the quality and style of your political leadership with your statement, “I don’t know what Liberians want . . .”

You were born about some 50 years ago and raised in Clara Town, northeast of Monrovia, one of the City’s Slum enclaves; so, You (Mr. George Opon Manneh Weah) need no lecture on illiteracy, education, lack of general information; poverty, hunger, unemployment, over-crowdedness and congestion; lack of healthcare, electricity, safe drinking water, unsanitary living conditions, high crime without police protection; lack of ethnic/tribal, socio-cultural, traditional identity, in terms of tribal dialect, etc.; and above all, the incidence of corruption or public dishonesty, described by the former President as “Liberia’s public enemy no.1”.

The theme of your campaign as candidate for President of Liberia was “Change, you will cry no more” and, also, since your election, you have announced and adopted a “Pro-Poor Agenda”, although you have been in office for less than a year – barely 6 months.

I pen this Open Letter to you, Mr. President, suggesting/recommending answers to your question because of my hope and wish that You, Mr. George Weah, must not fail for obvious reasons. Firstly, your credibility as President of Liberia, expressed by action, is on the line. State success, failure and your survival as President are all tied to your credibility.

 

Local, national and, particularly, international support (mainly economic in billions of US dollars) depends upon your credibility.

You see, Mr. President, that in any democratic political community that is committed to the rule of law and in which mind-boggling illegal acts of atrocious summary executions, group massacres, genocides, human rights violations, rapes, maiming, thievery and corruption were committed without trial, as was the case in the Republic of Liberia, a legal house-cleaning effort for the arrest, trial of the suspected and punishment of the guilty are required, demanded, indeed mandated. This effort sends out the message, loud and clear, that there is, will and shall be, no preferential treatment or immunity, given to anyone, irrespective of position and standing in the community. Legal house-cleaning, Sir, is and will be your major test of your credibility.

Truth & Reconciliation Commission (TRC)
Thus, the TRC approach, based on the successful experience of the Republic of South Africa, was adopted and passed into law in Liberia as the reasonable option for peace and security in post-conflict Liberia that this necessity demands - open, free and fair trials of suspected human rights violators, punishment of the guilty and amnesty granted the guilty, remorseful violators to whom such amnesty was due, a transitional justice approach, from conflict to modern, peaceful democratic rule.

But the-then President and former President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf was surrounded by suspected war criminals and supporters who held powerful political and economic positions, including law enforcement – police, military and other security-related portfolios, lawyers, prosecutors, judges, political party leaders, private corporate officials, etc., with high level of public dishonesty or corruption within her government. In fact, her success as the leading politician and survival of her presidency depended, exclusively, upon the support and cooperation of war, economic and corruption crimes suspects. As such, they enjoyed, continue to enjoy to this day, characteristic immunity or “impunity” from prosecution.

Given this reality, implementation of the TRC Recommendations with War Crime Court on ground, in Liberia, was unreasonable and, therefore, unacceptable to Mrs. Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf and supporters, because it meant prosecution and possible long-term imprisonment. Therefore, the Report was side-lined on shelves in the offices of the suspected war criminals where it gathered and is gathering dust during the past 12 years, while the suspects of war & economic crimes are awarded high-level positions with “Honorable” titles.

Now Your current, George Weah Government
Your Administration may be likened to President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf’s Government and the retired Mrs. Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf’s “king-maker” political “don” in many respects, although You, Mr.George Weah, were not involved in any aspect of the war nor connected to rebellious war crimes, but:

a) As Candidate-for-President you “became too friendly with Mr. Charles Taylor for comfort” not only for the majority of the Liberian population who suffered the impact of his “Jungle Justice” rule and that the former President is a war criminal serving a 50-year term for war crimes against humanity, but also, that sub-regional leaders of the West African Sub-Region are, also, unhappy and suspicious with your associations.

b) Now, your Cabinet is dominated by senior, political loyalists and others appointed by former President Sirleaf who, reportedly, is the power behind your Presidential throne with you having been compromised, also reportedly, with support and campaign contribution by the former President Sirleaf in return for protection from prosecution for war crime allegations; and

c) Your Excellency is, also, surrounded with graduates of the civil war (child soldiers who survived the dangers of toting AK-47s and deadly RPGs) and by important political officials – judges and members of the National Legislatures, all suspected war criminals, who hold the key to your presidency. For example, these officials include members of the Legislature dominated by war, economic and corruption crime suspects - senators and representatives who were supporters-fighters of Charles Taylor’s NPFL/INPFL and members of his National Patriotic Party. Some of these members were “elected” from small communities excised or extracted from existing Counties and bestowed “county” status without legal merit, but only for political and economic reasons.

There are other suspected war, economic and corruption criminals, like in the past (of the Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf government), who held/hold powerful political and economic positions, including law enforcement – police, military, related security officials, lawyers, prosecutors, judges, political party leaders, private corporate officials, etc., including, also, the highest level of public dishonesty or corruption than any other government of Liberia in the past within Your Excellency’s government.

In the light of the foregoing conditions, it would be an illusion to expect implementation of the TRC Recommendations by placing the War Crime Court on-ground, in Liberia, repetition of the past 12 years. But, Mr. President, make no mistake about the demand for war and economic crimes trials – the demand has grown, growing and that it is highly likely to be held.

Our Suggested/Recommended Answers to Your Question
In the light of the foregoing and the reality of the prevailing conditions on the ground in Liberia, as in the past, we recommend the following answers for Your Excellency’s consideration/implementation, that:

1) Firstly, you should and must summon the political will and “guts” to distance You and your government/administration from the war and economic crime (corruption) suspects. Begin this process by rooting out and freeing the Weah Government from entrapment by the Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf loyalists and others who dominate the Weah administration. Significantly, arrest and turn over all war and economic (corruption) crime suspects to the International Criminal Court (ICC) at The Hague for free, fair and open trials.

Indeed, this decision-action will earn and guarantee your government the International Community’s support led by Liberia’s most major historical benefactor and political ally, the USA, to arrest and turn over the suspects of war, economic and corruption crimes to the (ICC). For, it was this support (mainly economic, in hundreds of millions of US dollars) that convinced Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf to turn over her appointed war-front commander and ally, Mr. Charles Taylor, to the ICC for trial; the rest is history;

2) Left to Decision of Your Excellency’s entrapped, current government on the ground in Liberia and placing War Crime Court, also, on ground in Liberia, will not be only repetition of the past 12-year illusion, but also, in support of Ellen Johnson-Sileaf’s ear-shattering silence in support of AU condemnation and threat of withdrawal from the ICC, Africa’s only salvation and protection from war (crimes of human rights violations of genocide and related crimes against African humanity), economic and corruption crimes. The prevailing Liberian socio-political and economic conditions merit ICC intervention; for, the ICC was created, exactly and precisely, to remedy such conditions;

3) Therefore, Sir, you must arrest and turn over all bigwigs and related major-crime suspects – ACDL’s Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf warlord, Toga McIntosh, Dr. Amos Sawyer, etc.; INPFL’s General Prince Johnson; NPFL’s General Charles Bright, etc.; Maritime Commission’s Benoni Urey and LISCR agents for purchase of arms and ammunitions for the civil war (now Liberia Maritime Authority) and LISCR agents now in Monrovia and their (LISCR’S) recently-reported stolen US $123 million of Liberia Maritime Authority’s funds hiding behind their Legal Counsel (the already indicted Varney Sherman); and reported “ghost (of departed Minister of State for Presidential Affairs, McClain) payment of US $207,277 on behalf (reportedly) of Ellen’s Lobbyist Public Relations” to a Washington, D.C. KRL firm out of Liberian public resources;

4) Beak up or dismantle the Super Ministry of Finance and Development Planning (MF&DP) from the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Planning & Economic Affairs – separate paymaster from planner/doer, to prevent the classic, patent conflict-of-interest approach. The Ministry of Finance, now given a wider terrain with political power, influence and control, has been and is, the most historically-dishonest, corrupt agency of government. It is now over-paid and overstaffed with dual citizens who do not live in Liberia but with families living permanently in foreign countries and travel often to these counties at enormous cost to the public resources; they are provided housing, transport, electricity generators with service allowances, although they plan and develop nothing but collect payments from those that they pay nationally (retained from counties’ socio-economic development allocations).

5) Mr. President, please pay close attention to and evaluate/restructure the Ministry of Finance’s former Section, Bureau of Revenue, the now Liberia Revenue Authority (LRA). It has been, and is the nation’s second-most historically-dishonest and corrupt agency of government and may be re-named, Liberia Stealing Authority. The agency is, also, over-paid and over-staffed with dual citizens who do not live in Liberia. Its close association with the National Social Security & Welfare Corporation (NASSCORP) MD is cause for concern. Indeed, it is about time that you consider retirement of NASSCORP MD in the light of his payment of large sums of money to several politicians, including the recent, reported, payment to Honorable Harrison Karnwea of Nimba County that raised eye-brows on the internet.

6) The Public Procurement & Concession Commission (PPCC), General Service Agency (GSA) and Ministry of Finance & Development Planning (MF&DP) have not, yet, accounted for the US $5M, some 300 vehicles and medical supplies donated to Liberia for the Ebola Emergency. Some of the vehicles and medical supplies were found in Saclepia, Nimba County market for sale. It is about time, Mr. President, to arrest the GSA MD, the Executive Director of the corrupt PPCC for prosecution by the ICC and replace the entire PPC Commission members. The so-called Ministry of Finance & Development Planning must be re-structured as indicated at Item 4.

Sincerely yours,

Bai M. Gbala, Sr.
Bai M. Gbala, Sr.
ACTIVE, MOST SENIOR CITIZEN-ELDER
GRAND GEDEH COUNTY COUNCIL OF ELDERS, INC.

H.E President George Weah President-Head of State & Commander-In-Chief, Armed Forces, Republic of Liberia

Dear President Weah:
My Little Advice to You

I extend my homage and felicitations to you and your entire government in the name of Jesus. I am Jones Octavious Mallay, Sr. I hail from Somalahum village, Kolahum district Lofa County-Liberia. I am a current resident of the US and a syndicated columnist in the “New Dawn Newspaper” column titled: “From Where I see The Weah’s Presidency”. I did not vote for you. I am not a member of your CDC's party, neither was I counted in the votes that eventually made you president, head-of-state and commander-in-chief, Armed Forces of the Republic of Liberia. Though, I didn't vote for you, you are still my president. I will continue to acknowledge you as our President, despite all the negative social, economic and political odds and as long you continue to respect your legal constitutional boundaries and not tampering with the constitution and laws of Liberia.


Be reminded that many African presidents rise up and are quickly dethroned, killed or sometimes removed from office either due to their own political deportment, or political proudness in which they see themselves as “small gods” and also by making themselves untouchable or by exercising access uncontrollable political power. I am writing you purposely to advise you of your bad temperament, your defiant spirit to ordinary Liberians, and your uncontrollable anger problems. No one hates any leader in Liberia, it is the leaders themselves who create conditions for their own citizens to hate them or turned against them.

You need to put your emotion under control if you want for Liberians to be free with you. You need to speak with Liberians in a very politely and peaceful manner with passion and in love and not with the use of political power and set of presidential authorities. You need to do away with a potential defiant spirit and be the listening type of president. For example, women in Nimba recently demonstrated against the increase of the US dollar rate on the Liberian market, 1 dollar to 145 LD, yet you took offense and did not pay heed to their concerns, that was a bad sign for your presidency.

You need not to be defiant of whatsoever Liberians are going through under your leadership. For example, most Liberians pointed at some of your bad appointments in government, yet you refused to listen to them because it is your government. Liberians are speaking to you about their terrible living condition, you simply careless about their plight. It is God who speaks through people to their leaders. I want for you to kindly take note of this.

The spirit of proudness and holding things against your fellow Liberians is not a good sign for your presidency. Liberians are suffering. Many of them do not even have bread to eat from sunrise to sunset, yet nothing is happening from your end as president, to enforce policies that can ease the burden of Liberians, which is not a good sign for your presidency. The US dollar is going up every second in Liberia, which has continued to affect the lives of Liberians directly and indirectly, which is not a good sign for your presidency.

Most Liberians are becoming mere beggars in their own country while the foreigners have continued to hike the prices of goods like rice, building materials, transportation and many other, which is not a good sign for your presidency. Innocent Liberians are being killed and their body parts being extracted from them especially in Monrovia and their bodies are thrown in street corners with your office not speaking to these type of gruesome killings, this is not a good sign for your presidency.

School fees are rising both in the public and private schools, your office is doing nothing to speak against the enforcement of policies that can reduce huge school fees on poor mothers in Liberia. New fees for students from elementary school to 12 grades have continued to rise up at a pace that even the average Liberian family cannot cope with such situation, this is not a good sign for your presidency.

The foreigners have hijacked the Liberian economy. They are all in the bushes in Liberia far and near digging gold, diamond and felling our logs, with no one stop such madness, if though Liberia has no government in place, this is not a good sign for your presidency. Nigerians, Fulani, Lebanese, Ghanaians, Guineans, Chinese and other equally dangerous foreign nationals have captured all the small markets in Liberia depriving small Liberian businesses of functioning effectively, this is not a good sign for your presidency. This cannot happen in Ghana, Nigeria or China. For example, the Chinese are mining rocks, sands, charcoal, burning fish, selling cool water, ice cream, ice water if though, Liberia has no government. This is not a good sign for your presidency for the future of Liberian businesses.

Your security men are harassing common and innocent Liberians who speak against you, this is not a good sign for your presidency. For example, Journalist Jonathan Paye Layleh left the country under the cover of darkness for fear of his life, that was not a good sign for your presidency. The United Nations, human rights commission and the US have taken note of this journalist issue, this is not a good sign for your presidency.

Your vice president is calling for Liberians who are not Cedecians to be marginalized, this is not a good sign for your presidency. You have submitted a bill to paralyze or destroy the press freedom law that was crafted by former president Sirleaf, this is not a good sign for your presidency. Since your inauguration, you have made more than five international trips with a huge delegation at the expense of taxpayer money when Liberians cannot get fitting drinking water or a meal a day, this is not a good sign for your presidency. You referred to your government as ‘pro-poor”, yet you are engaging in the signing loans that will have dangerous effects on the future generation of Liberia, yet foreigners are in our bushes smuggling our gold, diamond and log that should bring money to the government. Even those who voted for you are getting out of patient due to the hardship they are experiencing, which is not a good sign for your presidency. You are beginning to erect buildings and receiving a plane as a gift from a friend, this is not a good sign for your presidency.

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