31 December 2012

Liberia: We Inherited a Country in Shambles, President Reminds Liberians

President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf has asserted that her administration assumed the leadership of Liberia at a time the country was in shambles.

The Liberian leader, in her assertions, which were contained in her New Year's Message addressed to the people of Liberia, acknowledged that while the Government of Liberia (GoL) under her leadership has not achieved all of its goals, comparing Liberia's past when she took over in 2006 to present, there is a clear difference.

Listen to President Johnson-Sirleaf: "Yes, we acknowledge that all of the roads in Liberia are not yet paved; that every community does not yet have electricity and pipe-borne water; that some people don't see the country's economic growth reflected in their income; and that the 20,000 jobs that were promised per annum have not materialized, all at once, from the government."

"However, the Liberian Chief Executive indicates, if you compare what existed when we started in 2006 and what we have today, it is clear how far we've come," adding that:"We inherited a country in shambles, with a collapsed economy, dysfunctional institutions, displaced people, destroyed infrastructure, and very few basic services."

She added:"Our people had lost all hope and had learned to live through mere survival. Compare that grim description to the Liberia to today, where people are getting on with their lives without fear, building homes, operating businesses, educating their children and able to provide for their families." She recalls that: "Back in 2006, there were no lights in this Capital. We brought the first lights in July 2006. Electricity is a high capital-cost item, and because our own resources are limited, we have had to depend on donor money, and abide by their rules, in order to finance most of the infrastructure in our post-conflict nation."

She divulged that It is taking long for the GoL to do all the things the Government wants and need to do such as energy, roads, ports, water and sanitation and more,because of a National Budget of $80 million that her administration started with, and even now when the nation's budget stands at $672 million today, it can only stretch so far. She reminded Liberians that for a country like Liberia coming from where it has come, there can be no quick fix, but she indicated that: "I promise you that we will get there, adding, recovery and development is a gradual process, it is difficult work, and it takes time."

She accentuated that in seven years of heradministration;the GoL has put in place all of what she refers to as thefundamentals, statingthat: "We re-established institutions; put in new laws and strategies; adopted our development agenda; and started to reform the country under the four pillars of our Poverty Reduction Strategy (PRS). "We've made progress, despite our limited resources and our low human capacity.

Our biggest challenge is to change the minds and attitudes of the Liberian people through transformation," said President Johnson-Sirleaf. In her New Year's Message, the Liberian leader showered thanks and praises on the Almighty God for what she calls God's multiple blessings upon a bountiful nation [Liberia] that is being transformed to lift all Liberians.

She urged all Liberians to be grateful to God and friends and partners of Liberia, as well as the resilient people of Liberiafor the current state of peace that the nation enjoys, adding that: "We can report that, with the support we received from regional institutions and global partners, 2012 marked the ninth consecutive year of peace in a country that had experienced over a decade of war and destruction.

Our country is still fragile, yet the record of continuity in peace and democracy is clearly present. And as we begin to use our natural resources better, reduce poverty and bring forth a more educated population, any risk of a reversal will diminish." The Liberian leader, who expressed keen interest in the progress of the nation in the coming year, averred that: "For 2013, we want to see progress in the areas of reform included in the Agenda for Transformation, among them, land reform. This is vital to everything we do in our mining and agriculture sectors, as well as in maintaining peace and tranquility. We also hope to conclude reform of the concessions sector, to correct past mistakes."

She expressed the hope that 2013 will be a year of true patriotism and reconciliation that will accentuate the positive things that unite the people of Liberia," adding that:"We will push ahead with our reconciliation program by implementing the Roadmap, which aims at accounting for the past, managing the present, and planning for the future."

She disclosed that in the New Year, Government will be placing great emphasis on infrastructure, with power, ports and roads being the three areas of concentration, stressing that:"These, in turn, will facilitate the education, health and agriculture sectors. We expect 2013 to be a good year of demonstrable progress, so that our people will see what this government is doing, what we've accomplished not just in Monrovia, but elsewhere in Liberia."

Touching on regional peace and relations, President Johnson-Sirleaf prayed for peace and good relations with Liberia's neighbors, especially the countries of the Mano River Union (MRU), adding that:"We are satisfied with the level of cooperation and the joint monitoring that Côte d'Ivoire and Liberia have at our common border."

Moreover, the Liberian leader intoned that of recent; there exists "total harmony among the leadership of our sub-region, as we concentrate more on how we can improve regional cooperation and regional integration."

She is of the belief that 2013 will be what she calls a banner year for women everywhere, stating that:"We will continue to empower women to compete at all levels for leadership in their societies."

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