We Liberians risk being poorer in 2020 than in the last two years, if we don’t get our acts together to break the poverty chain that has confined us to the margins of society. Previous Liberian administrations had governed in ways that subjected citizens to paying taxes without receiving basic services. The Weah administration is no exception, so are governments in the entire West Africa.
For instance, the Sirleaf administration granted tax holidays to several new investments in her final years, waiving millions in a country where poverty is nearly 90 percent. Some of the beneficiaries extracted what they wanted and pulled out, leaving the country bare.
A recent study by Oxfam West Africa reveals that West African governments are exacerbating inequality by underfunding public services, including healthcare, education and agriculture while under-taxing corporations and the wealthy, and failing to clamp down on tax evasion, tax avoidance and corruption.
Oxfam Regional Director for West Africa Adama Coulibaly, calls on governments in West Africa to strengthen commitment against inequality by promoting progressive taxation, boosting social spending, strengthening labour market protection, investing in agriculture and strengthening land right for smallholder food crop farmers.
Last year, an Oxfam West Africa investigation titled, Commitment to Reducing Inequality Index, noted that inequality has reached crisis levels in the region, yet governments here are the least committed to reducing inequality on the continent.
These revelations clearly indicate that Liberians and their colleagues in the region are on their own because governments they elected had never sought their interest neither do they have the slightest thought to seeking their welfare in terms of providing social services.
However, we as citizens can turn this picture around by standing up and saying enough is enough! We need to demand our peace and happiness.
Besides, we must get to work by engaging in small-scale businesses and returning to the soil, one of the great assets our ancestors left with us.
We in Liberia especially, should put aside the dependency syndrome and believe in ourselves. This would require working with our hands. No Liberian should feel too big or too proud to do something for himself.
The Weah administration has just entered its third year and the hardship continues to increase. We should not put our hands between our legs believing in utopia that government will deliver on promises made.
Unless Liberians adapt a radical approach by taking matters into our hands to rescue ourselves from this quagmire, the good life we dream of would elude us for very long.