Simeon Freeman frowns at gov’t officials owning equity in private companies
The political leader of the Movement for Progressive Change (MPC) and Businessman, Simeon Freeman has frowned at government officials who he says have equity in private companies.
Speaking recently, Mr. Freeman said there were many conflicts of interest with several top government officials either having shares or providing services.
Mr. Freeman argues that having equity in private businesses or companies leads to blurring officials’ vision for the interests of which they have been selected to serve.
“As a government official or minister, it’s just impossible for you to pursue the interest of the Liberian people. Don’t forget, our people look up to you to create opportunities for them. We will be able to change it if we are aware of it,” Mr. Freeman said.
Mr. Freeman said this is something that has been happening over the years and is not unique to the George M. Weah-led administration.
But he suggested that the goal is that Liberia does not repeat these terrible mistakes which have hampered the country’s development over the years.
“Several years ago, there was a company called Lofa Logging Company, particularly in 1970. They had a total construction concession area of 295,000 acres and a Liberian official George Padmore was a shareholder,” Mr. Freeman recalled.
According to him, some of the government officials were lawyers, shareholders and advisors. He added that another logging company in 1973 had 65,000 concession area in Lofa County and Martin B. Coleman and Kerkula B. Kpoto had share in the concession.
Mr. Freeman said in 1973, the National Logging Company had 444,800 acres, saying Bushrod Logging Corporation and Liberia had several companies with Liberian government officials holding shares.
Freeman noted that the former President William V. S. Tubman while serving as President of Liberia, was also legal advisor to Firestone Liberia which was a conflict of interest.
“We still see similar trend today even though Liberia has a Code of Conduct. These things are happening now because people did it yesterday. If we know the fact and understand that these things are inappropriate, we will not be repeating them,” Mr. Freeman noted.
He said there’s a need for government officials to understand that they are serving the Liberian people and therefore they should not be involved in such bad acts of conflict of interest.
He noted that if Liberia will be able to fight corruption, Liberians must be able to change their approach towards some of these things and how to deal with them.
Mr. Freeman vowed that if given the presidency, he will establish a data center to keep track of this information that will be provided by government officials and there will be integration of all government files, giving access to every sector.
“It will be something easy that if you put in Simeon Freeman, you going to see everything about Mr. Freeman. With this, it makes it difficult to lie. Today, we are in a country where everything to written documents and nothing is placed online. Therefore, it’s just easy to say anything,”
Mr. Freeman said.
He lamented that Liberians go to other countries and celebrate these things there, cautioned that they do not happen by mistake, but through the conscious efforts of leaders in those countries.
“If we want a better Liberia, a prosperous Liberia, we have to change our approaches. We must be serious about the steps we are taking and avoid things that happened yesterday,” said Mr. Freeman.
“You can even say you have US$200,000 in one bank and tomorrow you leave and no evidence anywhere. You can’t claim that your relatives had this and at the end you take the country’s money and pass it on to them,” Mr. Freeman continued.
He said this is what the new Liberia under a Simeon Freeman-led government will be about and he’s ready to institute these measures in Liberia.
Mr. Freeman has craved for cohesive development for Liberia, saying he intends to provide information about Liberia’s challenges and solutions, an initiative he terms as a civic education program.