PRESIDENT WEAH ON THE NATION’S ECONOMY: OUR THOUGHTS AND  ECOMMENDATIONS

 

His Excellency, President George Weah presented his government’s Plan of Action designed to rescue the nation’s Economy from the Great Beyond with Liberia’s currency, the Liberian Dollar, in Depreciation hot pursuit. Indeed, such mind-boggling conditions of social-cultural, economic and political problems have, often, been inherited by succeeding administrations from previous ones, public or private, throughout human history.

Succeeding administrations of the Republic of Liberia have been no exception. The conditions in Liberia today have been around since the nation’s founding in 1847, particularly, with respect to the nation’s economy. The problems are not new.

Significantly, President Weah observed (The New Dawn, July 17, 2018) that “Our currency was (or is) experiencing rapid and unprecedented depreciation, contributing to rising inflation. Unemployment was (or is) very high and our foreign reserves were (and are) at an all-time low”.

In fact, the President argued that “We were very aware of these systemic problems when we decided to run for the high office of President of Liberia and so we are not surprised. Ours is a duty and responsibility (to the Liberian People) to find new and sustainable solutions to these age-old problems that have stubbornly defied solutions in the past. It is not for us to complain . . . or to cast blames upon previous administrations. This is a task that we are, now, embark upon with strong determination, focus and commitment”.

Continuing, the President said, “I am fully aware that we are faced with a very difficult macroeconomic situation in Liberia”, because:

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

b) “Key to success in this endeavor is for Liberians (the Republic of Liberia) to produce more goods and services locally, so that we reduce 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”;

c) “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, thus:

1. “As a first step in this direction, we have placed emphasis and urgency on the formulation of a comprehensive development strategy that will be supported by a Strategic Implementation Plan.

“The development strategy, to be known as the Pro-Poor Agenda for Prosperity and Development, is nearing completion, and will very shortly be presented to all stakeholders, including our foreign development partners, private sectors and general public for consultation, input and buy-in before being finalized into a Strategic Implementation Plan”.

2. “The Development Strategy and Implementation Plan will serve as the road-map for urgent and important next steps to be taken in giving direction to our economic recovery and will consist of short-term interventions, medium-term reforms, and long-term restructuring of the economy”;

3. “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 . . .“
Our Thoughts
The disgraceful, often deadly and worsening socio-economic and political activities of our recent past and prevailing conditions of the Liberian Nation – increased poverty, hunger, decease, unemployment, anger, crowdedness in over-populated ghetto-slum enclaves of the Capital City of Monrovia in which the un-informed, un-educated overwhelming majority of Liberia’s voting-age population is trapped with drugs, prostitution and high crime without police protection; without safe drinking water and sewer, electricity with unsanitary living conditions; the under, age 30s, highly-educated and addicted to expensive automobiles, men, women, sex, gay sex, any sex, clothes, Hollywood fashion plates, body-tight, see-thru pantsuits and dresses with pushed-up bras or no bras, high heels and hair pieces with traditional culture in flux; and with foreign travels and the cesspool of corruption – all the result of public policy decisions with the compelling force upon us to wonder, often, about the LOCUS, not the QUALITY, of the traditional ADVISORY service available to our Presidents of the past, recent past and period prevailing.

The most powerful public policy counsel, Governance Commission or the “Doctors Club”, has become a Relic from the past and national politician, now only, a political management tool of the former President Sirleaf.
The critical question has become and is, are our Presidents of recent past and prevailing period, the democratically-elected Presidents, beginning with Mrs. Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, acting like the proverbial successful attorney who has himself for client?

But Ma Ellen is too smart, highly-educated and a political ritualist not to know that this behavior (of a successful attorney) is faulty psychology. And the Clara Town successful Home-Boy of President George Weah?

Indeed, George is too much of a Ghetto-Slum, hard-core, born, bred and experienced realist who knows that modern political leaders – kings, presidents, prime ministers – relevantly, highly- educated or not, surround themselves with highly-educated, trained/experienced advisors, some of which are sycophants, corrupt and liars. It is reasonable to conclude that it was President Weah’s realism coupled with distrust that distanced him from some of his blame-game loyalists. Said he in this context, “. . . ours is the duty to find solutions to the problems and not to complain . . . or cast blames upon previous administrations”.

This is a very powerful statement by President Weah that with or without validated citations, that Blame-games are made by failed, incapable performers.

But the President missed, in our view, the central, critical issue of his momentous speech on the economy, an issue for which the overwhelming majority of the nation’s population was glued to the radios.

Firstly, rather than explain, in simple language, his policy plan of approach for planning, organizing and developing industrial enterprises in Liberia to produce rice, cooking oil and many of our staple food for local consumption as well as production for export of our tropical products that are demanded by other nations in order to increase the value of our currency, but the President utilized fancy college language above the comprehension of the average poor, un-informed and un-educated Liberians, such terms as “macroeconomics”, “Strategic Implementation Plan”, “Pro-Poor Agenda” for Prosperity and Development, that is not yet completed; but being finalized into a “Strategic Implementation Plan” to serve as the “road-map” to our economic recovery and will consist of “short-term interventions, medium-term reforms, and long-term restructuring of the economy”, “Economic Management Team” and the CBL will issue a series of “Monetary and Fiscal Policy measures” to reverse the decline of the value of the Liberian dollar. Seeking solutions to this problem, we intend to engage the “minds of the best and brightest Liberian Economists”. This language says very little to the very poor, un-informed and un-educated who understands and cares less about issues academic/intellectual/theoretical but his practical, economic survival.

Secondly, the average poor, uninformed and uneducated Liberians want to hear and see physical and practical action – the sacking or removal from office of the fancy language, highly-educated crooks, liars, thieves and dual citizens who are responsible for the celebrated corruption that kept and keeps them poor; these crooks and liars drive expensive automobiles, live on generous salary/wage allowances, travel abroad for medical service.
Indeed, the major source of depreciation in the value of Liberian currency, the Liberian dollar, is Dual Citizenship. As Liberian citizens who have major public policy decision-making power and, simultaneously, citizens of a foreign country (as it has been and is), it is in such individuals’ best political and economic interest for Liberia to continue buying imported goods from the countries of these individuals’ citizenship infinitively and dangerously, rather than plan, organize, establish and develop local, industrial enterprises for production of goods and services for local consumption and export.

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, LRA, 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.

Our Recommendations
Firstly, we applaud the President’s powerful statement regarding Blame Games. For, blame games are, in fact, “feel-good” excuses for failed, incapable performers.

Consistent with our wish and desire that George Weah be successful as President for obvious reasons, we offer, hereunder, the following unsolicited recommendations designed to eradicate, completely, the damaging economic factor which, now, plagues the Liberian Economy – depreciation of or decrease in the value of the nation’s currency, the Liberian dollar. Resolving this problem today is a long-term endeavor with long-term commitments that requires:

a) Plan, organize, establish and develop industrial enterprises for production of goods and services for local consumption in order to discourage, reduce and, eventually, completely wipe out Liberia’s too much, dangerous dependence on imports;

b) Also plan, organize, establish and develop industrial enterprises for production of goods and services for export in order to increase desire for Liberian goods and services and, thereby, increase the value of Liberian currency because buyers of Liberian goods need and must have Liberian currency. There are no “quick fixes”.

c) And that the Laws against Dual Citizenship must strengthened and diligently enforced. The several Legislations seeking legalization of dual citizenship in Liberia and pending before the Legislature must be denied for lack of merit because the social, economic and political conditions which gave rise to the enactment of the laws, then at that time, are as valid today as they were when the laws were passed.

The endeavors for the planning, organizing, establishing and developing industrial enterprises for production of goods and services for local consumption and the export trade are long-term projects 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 to produce pre-determined results. They will require sustained and durable efforts, structures development, process refinement, further consultations, planning & programming, and resource mobilization.

Therefore, the President made the request for PATIENCE in presenting his government’s economic recovery Plan of Action as indicated above.

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