Liberia’s President George Manneh Weah is due to address the nation today Monday, 16 July in the wake of worsening economic hardship and inflation, about six months into his government.
In just about six months under his administration which began on 22 January this year, Liberia has seen its highest rise in foreign exchange with the depreciating local currency dramatically falling to the United States Dollar at the rate of LRD162 to US$1.00.
The economic situation here has left many in the public as well as officials to call on government to consider a single currency or withdrawing of the new Liberian Dollars banknotes from the market.
It has also resulted to blame games over the past months, with some of President Weah’s officials squarely blaming the past administration of former President Ellen Johnson – Sirleaf, while others suggest that new ideas be put to work to take the country beyond its current state.
Mr. Weah might announce new government decisions today that might touch on the economy including prices, counterfeits, border security and transportation, among many other issues here.
In addition to a debate between him and his predecessor Mrs. Ellen Johnson – Sirleaf over what was kept in national reserves, Mr. Weah’s administration is confronted by a troubling printing of counterfeit Liberian Dollars in millions by a criminal syndicate.
President Weah’s address might touch on new security measures on border security too, given recent revelation by police chief Col. Patrick Sudue that to get men to adequately man the borders, you will be talking about probably half of the police force because the borders are porous amidst influx of counterfeit Liberian Dollars here.
Much of these counterfeit banknotes are printed in big bills of the new money printed nearing the end of Mrs. Sirleaf’s administration.Some Fulanis and Nigerians are said to be leading culprits of smuggling these counterfeits banknotes into the country through the porous borders before dumping them in the markets through exchange of high rates to extract the few US Dollars.
Prices of goods and services have more than tripled here, and transportation too remains unregulated by authorities due to a sharp increase in the prices of gas and fuel.
President Weah might announce his government’s decision on unfavorable customs issues and taxes at the ports here which local businesses say have pushed some of them to cross their imports through ports in neighboring countries before using land transport to enter Liberia with their goods.
Ahead of his address to the nation today, Mr. Weah vowed over the weekend that his government is working to change and make Liberia a better place to live, but expressed concern that this is a country where politics wants to supersede good governance.
“There is a good news in the making for Liberians; when that good news is presented to the public, those who are doubting the performance of [my] government will not have the time to criticize the workings of the government again,” he said last week.
By Winston W. Parley-Edited by Othello B. Garblah