‘Economy at a breaking point’
Presidential hopeful and renowned human rights lawyer Cllr. Tiawan Saye Gongloe’s Liberian People’s Party (LPP) says under President George Manneh Weah’s rule, the economy is so constrained, and it is at a breaking point.
Responding to Mr. Weah’s sixth and final annual message in his first six years term, LPP claimed that Mr. Weah admitted that his government continues to lack the capacity to attract Foreign Direct Investment (FDI).
The opposition party also alleged that the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) regime is now almost totally reliant on the generation of domestic revenue from an economy that is so constrained that it is at a breaking point.
“While reliance on domestic revenue generation is a good thing, the Weah Administration has done nothing to spur growth in the economy or increase revenue,” the LPP claimed.
It added that this is due to uptake in business activities or value addition to domestic production.
“The government has instead opted to continuously increase taxes on the forever-dwindling service sector, money transfer services, and income tax even on donor monies provided to the country while borrowing heavily.”
Alluding to the total debt portfolio of the country, LPP said it is an indisputable fact that Liberia’s external and domestic debts have ballooned from US$942Million in 2018 to US$1.8Billion in less than six years.
The party referenced the Liberia Debt Management Unit Report dated 30 June 2019 ( (page No. ii) and the 2021 Central Bank of Liberia (CBL) Annual Report (page No. 61).
LPP said this is an increase of US$833Million or eighty-eight percent (88%) in less than six years.
The opposition party contended that President Weah deliberately failed to mention this astronomical increase of 88% in the nation’s debt portfolio within five years accrued via the reckless management of the economy by the CDC-led Administration.
“It must be recalled that Liberia’s total debt stood at US$4.5 billion when President Weah’s predecessor came to office in 2006.
It added that when former President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf left office in January 2018, total debt stood at US$942Million.
“How can Mr. Weah now boast of a rosy economic outlook for Liberia when he is leaving the country with more than 88% of total debt in 5 years compared to what he inherited from the previous Administration, accumulated in 12 years?” the LPP wondered.
“Except Mr. Weah lives on a different planet, it should be easy for him to know that most Liberians are poorer now than they were when he took the oath of office in January 2018,” the party continued.
Under Weah’s leadership, LPP alleged that poverty is surging, and it is estimated that 64% of the population lives below the poverty line and 1.3 million of those living in extreme poverty, referencing the World Food Programme (WFP).
LPP continued that 16% of children are physically not in school in Liberia, according to United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) data.
“Mr. Weah should know that no one can be fooled into thinking that their stomach is full when they are hungry,” LPP noted.
“Most Liberian people are hungry and cannot even afford to get a proper meal a day. For him to elect to tell them that they are living a fabulous life is a callous dereliction of his duties to work to improve the economy of this country.”
The opposition party contended that during his over 3-hour speech to the Legislature and other dignitaries, Mr. Weah painted a bleak picture of the state of affairs in Liberia.
It said Weah failed to provide any good plans for his last few months in office before he is sacked by the Liberian people on 10 October this year.
According to the LPP Mr. Weah claimed, “enormous progress has been made” in achieving peace in Liberia by “ensuring the strict adherence to the rule of law.”
However, the party argued that this cannot be further from the truth as the Weah Administration has a history of being the worst respecter of the rule of law in post-war Liberia.
“It can be recalled that during the July 26 Independence Day celebrations in 2022, thugs from Mr. Weah’s government and auxiliaries of his political party attacked students from the University of Liberia,” LPP reminded Mr. Weah.
It said his supporters nearly murdered student Christopher Sivili Walters who was severely beaten and left for dead.
In 2020, LPP recalled, four auditors died mysteriously, including Emmanuel Barten Nyeswua, Director-General of Liberia’s Internal Audit Agency; Gifty Lama, Acting Manager for Tax Services at the Liberia Revenue Authority (LRA); Albert Peters, Assistant Commissioner for Audit Services at LRA; and Auditor George Fanbutu of the LRA.
It also recalled the death of Melvin Earley, an Officer of the Executive Protective Service (EPS), who was alleged killed in Tappita (with the Weah Government preposterously declaring that he committed suicide by shooting himself in the head, stomach, and leg).
“The perpetrators of this mayhem continue to enjoy their freedom with no consequences for their actions,” said LPP.
It noted that the general crime rate in the country has spiked with mob action becoming normalized, making nightlife non-existent in Liberia, which greatly affects the night economy.
“Adherence to the basic standards of decency is practically non-existent in the enforcement of the country’s traffic laws. Nearly every government official and some civilians drive around with sirens and motorcades,” it noted.