The President of the Republic of Liberia, H.E. George Mannah Weah like rest of the presidents around the world, borrowed huge loans to run their governments. No nation has been able to successfully run its administration on the basis of mere revenue generation, taxable income on goods and services from other multiple government sources.
Secondly, Liberia is a cash economy, it doesn’t produce anything, Liberia relies heavily on loans, grants and cash gifts for survival. Liberia needs cash to propel its giant engines from time to time. Interestingly, Liberia is no stranger when it comes to huge loans initiatives like other great nations that borrowed huge loans to run their governments from time to time. For example, the United States has $14.6 trillion-dollar debt, China has $5.7 trillion-dollar debt, Japan has $5.4 trillion and Germany has $3.3 trillion-dollar debt currently. All of these debts were attained from loans. These nations are industrialized. They produced huge goods and services to generate huge incomes. Officials that embezzled funds in these nations they are tried and if found guilty, they are sent to prisons for long jail terms, but Liberia case is different. Liberia has officials that embezzled government funds and are honored for such embezzlement from time to time.
Nonetheless, there are endless factors that are associated with loans borrowing. Most presidents and their governments take loans to get their governments running while the next generation paid high interests on those loans for years to come. Other presidents take loans in conjunction with the political promises they made to the electorates for putting them in power. Others take loans simply to embezzle and failed to apply such loans for it intended purpose and leave the next generation to suffer on repayment.
President Weah pointed out that he intends to ensure that by the end of his term in office he would have connected all of the 15 counties’ capitals of Liberia by paved “All-weather” roads” stressing: “This is the promise I made to the Liberian people, a pledge I intend to keep. The president made political promises to his people particularly to connect the 15 counties with paved roads which is a welcomed undertaking, but with deep suspicion regarding the credibility, sincerity, authenticity, reliability and funding sources of the almost 1 billion-dollar loans. However, the signing of the US$536m and the Eton Financing of a US$420m loan agreement with EBOMAF is a step in the right direction if, and if only President Weah and his government are sincere to do what they say they will do, that is to connect the 15 counties with 337 kilometers of a well-constructed paved roads.
Sources linked to these loans especially from the EBOMAF Group, representative Bonkoungou Mohamoudou, said that he has assured President Weah that Liberia will get well-constructed roads as enshrined in the agreement, so let Liberian wait and see. But there are more questions than answers. The question is why if the roads are not built, and Liberia has to pay the money and the interests back? No matter who gets into the Executive Mansion, he/she will definitively negotiate for loans to run Liberia by enhancing projects for the citizenry directly or indirectly.
Furthermore, the people Liberians elected to represent our interest in the House as representatives were able to ratify the US$536.4 million Loan Agreement and forwarded it to the Senate for concurrence. The question on the lips of Liberians: Is it possible for President Weah to really connect the 15 counties with paved roads? Has President Weah and his government carried out feasibility studies to determine whether paved roads are needed in all parts of Liberia? Have they, in fact, examined the soil to make sure is accessible to the would-be pavement? Will this money be shared between the representatives, judiciary and the executive branches of government?
President Weah is between the rock and the hard place. If he doesn’t get the loans to build the road, he will be called a liar by the same Liberians who put in in power. If he takes the loans and converts it into other government projects there is nothing anyone can do about that, because government bureaucracy is such that funds allocated can be used for other development other than what they were intended.
That is a normal practice in government. Most Liberians are apprehensive because past Liberian governments are on records of negotiating for huge loans but later embezzled those through rampant corruption. Liberians have got good reasons to criticize President Weah because of the bad money eating records of previous governments of Liberia. There are very strong possibilities for the Weah’s government to also embezzle these loans through rampant corruption and nothing may even happen to those government officials in Liberia. This is the main concerns of Liberians.
The issue of public trust is a big problem between the Liberian government and the citizens of Liberia. No Liberian will want to believe President Weah, because, in the first place, he and his government officials have refused to disclose their assets. He has employed majority poor Liberians who had not been in public office before and are three-times likely to embezzle public funds entrusted in their care for any development. President Weah cannot claim to fight corruption in his government when he is not leading by example. For example, he refused to audit the then President Sirleaf’s government. No Liberian knows what the then government left in the covers. No Liberian knows about the status of previous loans and contracts that were signed before President took office. President Weah should be defended for obtaining the loans, on condition that his government will indeed build the roads and connect the fifteen counties.
There are few suggestions to solve the loans puzzle that will lead to the construction of the roads that will connect the 15 counties. The suggestions are as follow: The Liberian government shouldn’t handle the loans. Let those offering the loans used it to build them in Liberia. The Liberian government should only provide manpower for the construction of the roads. If the government of Liberia is giving the physical funds something terrible will go wrong with the money, it will be embezzled or diverted to other government projects that are equally important to Liberia