The President of the Republic, H.E. George Manneh Weah, has delivered his second nationwide address Wednesday, May 29, 2019, on a wide range of issues but with specific focus on groundbreaking policy declarations aimed at resuscitating the economy and curbing corruption.
Exalting Liberians for their resilience amid harsh economic conditions, President Weah said his Government is committed to the Pro-Poor Agenda that will lift up all of Liberian people and not only a few.
He said a series of policy measures are underway to stabilize the national economy in the short term, and position it for growth in the medium to long term.
“We are working with stakeholders on measures that are intended to bring down prices,” said President Weah who noted that his administration continues to work to attract new investments in agriculture, improve our business climate to reduce the costs and hurdles of doing business in Liberia.
Sanitizing the Central Bank
The Liberian leader leafed through circumstances and investigative reports of the L$15.5 billion and $25 million mob-up exercise which have dominated the national discourse and what government has been doing to ensure transparency and accountability.
The President said all the reports and lapses point to a major lack of systems and controls at the Central Bank of Liberia, and call into question the ability of its present leadership to effectively revamp its internal mechanisms to provide greater accountability and professionalism.
To provide the opportunity for the Central Bank to have a new direction, President Weah told the nation, “I have accepted the resignation of the Deputy Governor for Economic Policy. The Executive Governor is scheduled for age-related mandatory retirement in the next three months. During that period, we will work to transition the bank to a new management.”
He said the new CBL leadership will be recruited by a vetting committee to be established and will be composed of an independent team of professional Liberians to be named shortly.
“Any qualified Liberian interested in becoming a part of this new leadership team may submit applications to the vetting committee, whether they are resident in Liberia or abroad, and regardless of gender or political affiliation,” the Liberian leader declared, adding, “I will also announce a new Board of Governors next week.”
Renewed Vigor in Anti-Corruption Fight
The Liberian leader has similarly vowed to intensify Government’s fight against corruption.
He announced that in the next several days, Government will begin the review of all General Auditing Commission audits over the past 10 years, and will commence legal actions against every person that is implicated in these audit reports.
Anyone found culpable will face the full force of the law, the President averred.
“In this same spirit,” is asserted further, “my Government also intends to contract international auditing and investigative firms to go after all monies and resources that were illegally taken from Liberia over the last 10 years.”
President Weah said it was time to take the fight against corruption to a new level as a form of social justice for all the people of Liberia.
He however cautioned that “as we battle corruption, our fight [must] be based on the facts and the evidence of corrupt activities that is adduced by reports from audits that have been professionally conducted, rather than mere perceptions and unsubstantiated allegations.”
The President said national dialogue amongst Liberians must be based on truth, facts, and evidence and the national discourse must also be civil.
“In this age of social media, let us use this medium as a resource for nation-building and the promotion of peace, rather than a tool of national destruction,” he admonished Liberians.
Advent of IMF Program in Liberia
In a related development, the Liberian leader has announced the creation of an International Monetary Fund program in Liberia as additional robust effort to revive the Liberian economy.
The President said: “We are privileged to have the support of the United Nations, the African Union and ECOWAS, as well as our other international partners who have invested in our future, and who continue to offer the assistance and advice we need to improve our country. We wish to assure our international development partners that we are committed to upholding the norms of good governance.
“Soon, we will welcome a team from the International Monetary Fund, coming to create an IMF program tailored for Liberia.
Such a program will help us to take the needed steps to stabilize our economy, restore confidence in our currency, and offer technical assistance to continue social services.”
He said an IMF program requires greater discipline across government budgets and that his administration would will be introducing salary caps for government workers, and asking legislators to share the burden as well.
“We will review performance and revenues from our State-owned enterprises, ensuring that leakages or inefficiencies do not undercut the ability of government to support its people.”
President Weah said Liberians should work together in to tackle the toughest problems, and seek to make the choices that will lead to changes that have broad positive effects.
He said for Liberia to attract investors and create jobs, “we need to start reforms now that will pay off in the future.”
“Even as we build a better future,” the Liberian leader said, “we are addressing the problems of the past that still cast shadows over our people’s lives. We are implementing land reform and local governance laws passed by our legislature last year, and we are supporting dialogue at the local level, with assistance from international partners, that advances reconciliation and unity.”
Extolling Liberians’ Resilience
The President used his national address to thank Liberians for their fortitude and resilience amid trying times, describing the people as resilient and strong.
“We, the Liberian people, are strong and capable,” he said. “ We know this because we have overcome the division and destruction of war, we conquered Ebola, and we have peacefully transferred the honor and duties of political leadership in accordance with our constitution and the rule of law.
The President said he is proud to say Liberia is a democracy where people, who seek to do so lawfully, peacefully, and responsibly, can and do express their opinions, whether in our legislature, on our campuses, in teashops, and in peaceful demonstrations.
He noted that a nation is not defined only by easy and happy times, when everything is going well.
A nation is defined by the ability of its people to overcome difficult moments in their history, he said, adding that “this is only possible when we come together as One People. Our strength will always lie in our unity, because if we are divided, we will never overcome the ills of our society.”
“Fellow citizens, we Liberians have had some difficult moments, but those moments do not define us. Those dark times did not define us. We overcame that gloomy history and today Liberia is a shining multiparty democracy in which freedom is supreme.”
He Liberians, with the help of their regional and international partners, overcame both war and the disease. Liberia has since remained a haven of peace and has undergone a successful democratic transfer of power.”