The Just Economy: The Ellen Development Paradigm
A West African country, founding member of ECOWAS, an economic grouping, Liberia is a small country founded by about 86 descendants of freed slaves from the Americas, originally from the Southern United States of America under the aegis of America Colonization Society. She is Africa’s first black independent country, advocated for and demanded political self-determination for all colonized nations in Africa, a prosecutor at the International Court of Justice of apartheid-regime South Africa for the Pete W. Botha systematic repression of South African blacks. She makes Liberia a hope and home for all oppressed peoples everywhere.
It’s rich in nature’s endowment. By the 1900s its nature bowels were exploited, soon rubber plantations sprouted up, Akron, Ohio’s Harvey S. Firestone’s Firestone Rubber Plantation took the lead, followed by ore exploiting multinationals—Liberia Mining Company, National Iron Ore Company, Bong Mining Company, Liberian-American-Swedish Minerals Company (LAMCO). Liberia revenue intake there from outpaced all other nations’ economic collections but was only compared in second place on the GNP ladder with Japan, Asia’s industrial leader. That phenomenal intake of hard earned revenue was highly mismanaged and in 1968 we were dubbed the epithet Liberia: Growth Without Development in a report from research done on Liberia by a group of Northwestern University scholars.
A tiny political group, about less than 1%, superintended by the newly arrived, forerunners of our political self-rule, squandered and siphoned over 100 years our Nation’s revenue at the total exclusion of over 70% of Liberians. The marginalized soon resented violently, culminated into the 14 long years of senseless war that claimed over 300,000 dear lives. However, series of tribal wars, notably the SeyonJuah Nimley’s of former Sasstown Territory (now Jlaoh Statutory District) vehement rejection of President Charles Daniel Bashiel King extortion of taxes and perennial torture of the kru ethnic, expressed the treachery that political power weirder continue to mete against the Liberian people. GOL hard handedness of the taxpayers’ resistance rocked Liberia that the then League of Nations’ attention got drawn.
Today, Liberia continues to grapple with this dismal history and picture. With the just ended 14 years of national self-destruction, we as a nation are now sighing up some relief. Perhaps, it’s because the dawn of a new day is under the curious periscope of the donor community, with ECOWAS standing high than ever before in the political relations of Africa.
With the short-circuited development drives of the late visionary Dr. William Richard Tolbert, Speed ie, the man who promised Liberia the building of a Wholesome Functioning Society where each one citizen would have risen from mat to mattress, and Dr. Samuel Kanyon Doe, all victims of unfortunate historic accident, comes out a forward-looking patriot, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, a one-time political agitator during the Dr. Samuel Kanyon Doe regime, with a grand plan of repositioning Liberia into ECOWAS development matrix. Our war-ravaged infrastructures are being restored admixed with some critical new ones. Fiscal and monetary reforms instituted have won for Liberia debt relief of over USD4.6bn, relieving posterity of huge bondage. Liberia’s foreign image more than strengthened, winning for us all these international respects.
Some Quant essentials of the Just Economy
Denounced political marginalization of Liberians by Liberians in workplaces, communities and on the whole, economic exclusion, abandon tampering with the State’s coffers, enactment of just law and concomitant abiding respect for rule of law, a defined practice of capital formation to raise necessary and appropriate economic infrastructures to get us meet the Liberia Rising 2030 drive, an effort at leading us into an Alice in Wonderland, where each one may sit with the Joneses, if we can, and not only counties’ capitals but its districts shall be well connected with not short-lasting laterite but paved asphalt broad and spacious modern streets, really promotional of market access and then trade growth and increased real employment.
Precursors to all these, are the no-wasting time approach to raising the content and strength of our tertiary institutions, Liberia’s premiere University of Liberia to begin with, exploiting the so-called Association of African Universities as well as the goodwill of friendly countries to assist us with some critical professors to equip our weaker departments. The trigger down effects will express into quality output who shall go into various institutions to raise the quality of production. These products should be sent for graduate degrees (masters and doctorates) in critical professional areas, with all sustaining appurtenances. Soon within about 10 years, Liberia would be seen educationally and professionally competitive in the ECOWAS sub-region. This is the way to end the lip-service approach to building quality education.
The building of critical human skills is it all! This is the necessary and sufficient conditions that have and will only visibly support a nation’s drive to becoming a middle income economy, a takeoff into the second world! Mr. Stuart Bruchey, Professor of American Economic History at Columbia University, in his book: The Roots of American Economic Growth 1607 – 1861: An Essay in Social Causation asserts that “industrialization depends on the necessary condition of continuous technical progress, underlying that, a series of scientific discoveries. Yet science and technology were necessary conditions, not sufficient ones. Industrialization also requires both physical and human capital, entrepreneurial skills and incentives, the willingness and ability of businessmen and workingmen to adopt new machines and processes, and the existence of markets to absorb their output at prices sufficient to cover the production costs of marginal producers.
These requirements, combined with the necessary condition of increased technological knowledge, constituted the sufficient condition for industrialization and, hence, modern economic growth.” Relying on foreign consultants for the finesse of project design and implementation is a dull public administration and slowcoach refusal to home-grow professionals, a sort of contrast to building human capacity; human capacity building is a sine qua non to effecting and realizing socioeconomic development under the heaven. The Japanese, Chinese, Koreans, Singaporeans, Indonesians and Malaysians, now Asian industrial giants, can say more on this note. Political show and paid radio appearances characterizes the module operandi of development officials of African governments. The rising cost of education, especially that of tertiary education; USD150 per credit at UL graduate schools is sheer attempt to deny the growing number of the children of the haves-not class in our country, same old history of old Liberia now shining strong in the present-day Liberia. The Try-ignorance-if-education is-expensive-trite argument is damning support for imposing the astronomical cost on our people.
We are now involved with regionalist thinking, attempting to melt into single body politic, resulting into weaker border divide, one monetary zone and monetary unit under subsequent one government and people. We must now put our house in order to save ourselves any abuse that comes with regional integration as soon our weak and vulnerable economy becomes exposed to men bent on trading contraband merchandise while West Africa is already being seen as a vent for dangerous substances. As these ongoing socio-economic reforms are internationally driven, the UNO via the World Bank and IMF being the architect, there is compelling need to synchronize ours to that standard to become an efficient negotiator at the table for the long benefit of our people. In this way we can fatten our people’s share from the bargain and protect our economy.
The 2nd Term 150-Day Deliverables
Liberians welcome the clever sketch of the critical socioeconomic development tasks described in the 150-Day deliverables: increase road network connecting the capital cities of the 15 counties, (real transport access will include equal easy access to districts’ capitals as if this not the case, movement toward county metropolis shall cause district brain drain, an encouragement to labor shift away from rural food security efforts. Henceforth, a wholesome effort, not partial one, will mean well for the intended purpose) which has the potentials to cause reduction in consumer prices and improve trade and employment as this raise and widen the informal sector; expand physical infrastructures to improve access to quality social services by strengthening LWSC and LEC and health delivery capacities to reach out beyond traditional boundaries; provide affordable and comfortable (better than the Firestone Rubber Plantation’s, write-up’s)) housing facilities by committing strong support to NHA, NASSCORP to build more houses and initiate home mortgaging scheme, upgrade the Monrovia wharf and dredge the Monrovia and Greenville seaports and airports, among other niceties.
We call for the visit to the Caldwell road construction project so that it could burst up to the Kakata highway to reduce pedestrian cost of travel while maintaining the original plan of reaching it out to Louisiana. Hereto forth, Madam President it is quite compelling that Road Construction Engineers and relevant workers be assigned to road construction engineers to boost learning experience. By this way Liberia will over time be saved the Jallah Town road construction catastrophe. More than that drainage and zoning systems be given unconditional respect by MPW, NHA, LWSC and home builders. And the MPW, NHA and LWSC should align with concrete constructions hereafter to build an appealing future Liberia.
Telecommunication shrinks the world into a huge global village. Liberia should work hard at installing the broadband cable in the face of the roguish attack recently experienced; it’s one of the huge development challenges confronting us.
The Ellen’s, I believe, is a clarion call to all well-thinking Liberians to begin now making a spectacular efforts to turn our country around for the better. The development challenges confronting Liberia are overwhelming, selfless and unbiased attitude is needed to meet head on these vexing development hurdles.
By Sieh M. Blamo