It was an atmosphere of glee amongst Liberians when news about Jindal’s investment interest in Liberia first emerged about two years back. The arrival of the Jindal Chairman Naveen Jindal and his meetings with President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf were further reassuring that this $18 billion group will turn the fortunes of the country.
This case study is on the Republic of Liberia, Africa’s first independent republic, located on the west coast of Africa. The country maintained an aristocratic republican democracy for 133 unbroken years (Sawyer 1991), but later slipped into a devastating 14 years civil war, which ended in August 2003. The war killed about 250,000 people of the country’s four million population, and damaged key infrastructure and basic social services including homes, electricity, education, health and water facilities, bridges, roads, air and sea ports, and telecommunication (UN in Liberia 2013). Peace and security have been restored to Liberia, following a transitional government instituted by the Accra Peace Accord, and the holding of free, fair and transparent elections in 2005 (CPA 2003). The first post war elections brought Madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, first African female head of state and government, to power (UNSG Report 2006).
Cash transfer (CT) is a form of social assistance that occurs in three forms. It can be cash given to individual households, cash grants or cash for work and voucher programmes, and cash as an alternative to in-kind transfers such as agricultural inputs or non-food-items (Farrington et al. 2006). These three forms of CT are intended to address risk, and reduce chronic poverty and vulnerability. Cash transfers have proven to be a cost effective intervention for poverty alleviation. Although they have a positive impact on poverty reduction, mainly education and health outcomes, the evidence remains inconclusive on the sustainability of such approach especially on sustainable economic growth and development (Arnold et al. 2011).
The 2nd quarter of the fiscal year has practically ended, the beginning of quarter 3rd had started, yet Liberia and Liberians are yet to know how a portion of the projected US$582 Million budget are being spent and how much more is going to be borrowed in our name to provide for services that we can neither see, nor feel. Appearing before the National Legislature, the Minister of Finance predicted a budgetary shortfall of around US$74. 5 million at the beginning of quarter three of the Fiscal Year (FY) 2013/2014. With series of budget shortfalls, the United States of America (USA), through its Ambassador accredited near Monrovia, Debora Malac, urging the Government of Liberia to discontinue the spending of money it does not have. Ambassador Malac said the Liberian Government is facing a serious budget shortfall, which has impacted its ability to execute “ambitious activities” it has planned to benefit the country and its people.
At a well–attended meeting (FrontPageAfricaonline & New Dawn, May 20, 2014) under the banner of the Liberia Peace Initiative, Mr. George Weah, the host, Peace Ambassador & CDC Political Leader, introduced the occasion and said, “make no mistake, this is no easy task, this will not be a quick task . . . what we are able to do by coming together will change trajectory of Liberia towards a unified and prosperous country . . . We are not in a crisis”. The perception of many Liberians has been, with unfounded and false accusations that it was the citizens of Nimba and Grand Gedeh Counties who planned and “orchestrated the civil war”.
The Honorable “Tom” Jucontee Woewiyu - the acid-tongued, pseudo-revolutionary and member of the legendary Association for Constitutional Democracy in Liberia (ACDL); founding Member, Defense Minister and Commander-in-chief, with military command/control, planning/strategic authority over the fighting forces of the insurgent, National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL); second-in-command of civilian/policy-making authority of the illegal organization (NPFL) that battered and laid the Liberian nation’s cities, towns and villages in ruins; looted homes, offices, business houses, commercial/industrial plants, including our only, Mount Coffee, Hydro electric plant; and dished out mind-boggling plunder, destruction, atrocious brutalities of rape, maiming, torture, mass murders, summary executions, human suffering and death, upon innocent men, women and children, and brought the Republic of Liberia face-to-face with near-total collapse – “lied”, has been arrested and held on charges of Perjury, upon arrival at the Newark, New Jersey, USA, International Airport.
Retired from the everyday three hours traffic jam on the Somalia Drive towards Gardnerville in Monrovia, the least of my worries now is waking up to gather my gadgets to follow a news story.
According to the New Dawn newspaper (The New Dawn, April 10, 2014), “Amidst the escalating rate of the US dollars against the Liberian currency, the Senior Senator of Nimba County, Prince Y. Johnson, has submitted a bill to . . . the Liberian Senate seeking a single currency in the Liberian market”.
Ronak Gopaldas currently works as a sovereign risk analyst at Rand Merchant Bank in Johannesburg, South Africa. He has written for Business Day, Business Report, Forbes Africa, Africa Asset Management and Dealmakers magazine and provides market analysis and commentary on CNBC Africa.
Following the trend of recent events relative to the four Liberians who were shot in Turkey vis-à-vis the Liberian Government’s responsibilities to its citizens, I have personally drawn two key impressions from this particular scenario.