Editorial: REALISE should not be a political spin
Four years into his administration, President George Manneh Weah just announced an ambitious Recovery of Economic Activity for Liberian Informal Sector Employment Project or REALISE for short, over the weekend that he says, will lift Liberians out of poverty and empower local businesses, barely one year to elections.
One would have thought that any serious plan that sincerely seeks to recover economic activity in the country would have rolled out from the very inception of this administration in order to leave enough time to measure successes and challenges other than a quick-fix for re-election.
The Executive Mansion in Monrovia quotes President Weah as saying the REALISE Project will promote economic activities for 19,000 Liberians in the Greater Monrovia area – 4,000 vulnerable Liberians in the informal sector will receive support to either start a new business or improve existing ones, while 15,000 Liberians will also be empowered to engage in labor-intensive community-based public works in urban areas.
We view the so-called REALISE as another political spin to attract voters for the President’s re-election bid next year. Nothing else. This is not a well-crafted, sustainable program that impoverished Liberians can bank on to improve their lives but purely a bit to support the re-election of the governing CDC.
President Weah promised at his inauguration that Liberians will no longer be spectators in their own economy. The President should please tell the nation how many Liberian-owned businesses has he empowered in the past four years of his administration.
We wonder how does giving unskilled and jobless youths shovels, diggers, brooms, rakes and wheelbarrows empowers them for sustainable living. The government in power should be different thru its programs from politicians craving votes.
On the contrary, we think the launch of the REALISE Project sends a very weak signal of the government’s professed determination to empower Liberians. It is bent on making mockery of citizens rather than bettering their lots.
We say because for the past four years nothing tangible was done in this direction, only for a year to election to come out with something funny.
Worse still, the government did not say how much money has been budgeted for the REALISE Project to own it but only disclosed the French Government, through its Agency for French Development (AFD), has committed a total of approximately €9,000,000 and a team is expected here from Paris, France to conduct feasibility studies.
We can bet our heart that right after the 2023 elections, if Weah is elected for second term, REALISE will be flushed in the toilet because it was never meant for sustainability in the first place.
When a government that is washed in corruption and cronyism announces that it is now ready to better the lives of its citizens we need to think twice before applauding said intention.