‘Completely unrealistic, insincere’
–UP reacts to President Weah’s 6th Annual Message
By Lincoln G. Peters
Former ruling Unity Party (UP) says President George Manneh Weah’s 6th Annual Message is completely unrealistic, insincere, and abuse of the difficult living conditions of Liberians.
UP Vice Chairperson Mrs. Dabah M. Varpilah told a major press conference Tuesday, 31 January 2023 at the UP headquarters in Monrovia that the state of the nation presented by President Weah failed to capture the real issues that Liberians are facing.
She alleged that the government has continuously violated laws that seek to curb corruption.
She noted that the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) regime has also done nothing meaningful to address the plights of the people.
Rather, she claimed, President Weah has an interest in speaking lies and deception to the Liberian people.
“The State of the Nation Affairs delivered by President Weah was unrealistic and insincere because he makes fun of the Liberian people,” said Mrs. Varpilah.
The opposition politician claimed that Liberians can barely afford a stable meal, there are no jobs and many have turned to beggars in their own country.
“This story of Ma Sarah is the story of the vast majority of our people, many of whom have lost confidence in their government,’’ she noted.
According to her, the Unity Party government under the stewardship of former Vice President Joseph Nyumah Boakai will change this, and they must.
Concerning the status of the economy, Mrs. Varpilah stated that the president made several broad promises concerning the economy and the improvement of the well-being of the Liberian people, but he is yet to fulfill them.
“Liberians expected to have heard the President speak about his government’s approach to avoid the progressive abuse of over $300 million U.S. dollars in duty-free privileges granted before the delivery of his 2022 Annual Message,” said Mrs. Varpilah.
“The President deliberately and callously decided not to speak about this very important issue as he had committed to do in the last State of the Nation Address.”
The former ruling party official said that President Weah and his government didn’t mention anything about measures taken to prevent this linkage in the system.
She said Weah and his government continue to abuse the granting of duty-free privileges which would have amounted to more than 300 million.
Additionally, Mrs. Varpilah explained that the president mentioned less about the progress of restructuring the domestic debt.
She added that President in his 2022 Annual Address reported that all legacy debt owed to the Central Bank of Liberia was restructured, totaling US$487.5 million.
“The total public debt stock stood at $1.69 billion U.S. dollars on January 1, 2022, increasing our public debt stock since 2018,” she said.
“Yesterday, the president told the nation that his government has increased our total debt stock to almost TWO BILLION United States Dollars just under SIX years, while for 12 years, the Unity Party total debt stock was about 900 million US Dollars,” she argued.
According to her, the UP government secured an unprecedented waiver of over 4.7 Billion US Dollars in historical debt.
The Unity Party stalwart pointed out that the President’s report on the current total debt stock has shown a growth of 7.9 percent as compared to 6.29 percent in the previous year.
But she said the majority of this growth accounts for the disbursement of external loans.
She challenged the government’s argument that the majority of its capital investments are financed from its domestic resource mobilization.
She said this policy statement is not factual because the 2022 budget appropriated over 75 percent for only recurrent expenditures which leaves a smaller fiscal space to invest in both social and economic infrastructure development.
“Most of our major capital investments are funded by bilateral and multilateral agents. For the first time in recent financial and fiscal history, debt repayment has exceeded capital expenditure as a percentage of public expenditure,” Mrs. Varpilah continued.
From 2018 to now, she said cumulative repayment of loans and interest amounted to 9% of total expenditure.
The UP stalwart argued that this was more than two times the 4% of expenditure spent on capital accumulation.
She added that this is a huge contradiction of the much-trumpeted, but empty claim to being the most infrastructure-oriented government in Liberia’s history.