The New Dawn (Monrovia)

9 January 2013

Liberia: Ellen Contradicts Labor Ministry

Despite Labor Ministry authorities' pronouncement that the government here has achieved its goal of generating over 20,000 jobs for Liberians, President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf has conceded that her administration did not meet the target.

Deputy Labor Minister Richard Ngafuan had earlier told a local radio station in Monrovia that the Sirleaf Administration has lived up to the promise of creating 20,000 jobs for Liberians.

Minister Ngafuan said during the past 12 months in 2012, the government created over 22,623 jobs for the citizenry, noting there were employment data from businesses, including concessionaires, local business entities and the government herself to substantiate the statistics.

But shockingly for the general public and foreign partners, President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf in a New Year message delivered on December 27, 2012, said the government fell short of creating 20,000 jobs as promised due to constraints faced by the administration.

"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", President Sirleaf conceded to the nation.

But Minister Richard Ngafuan, junior brother of current Foreign Affairs Minister Augustine Ngafuan, told the public that the Labor Ministry arrived at the figure after some research with concessionaires, local companies and the government own employment record.

President Johnson-Sirleaf however pointed out that regardless of not creating the 20,000 jobs, Liberians can compare what existed when her administration took office in 2006 to what it has achieved.

"It is clear how far we've come. We inherited a country in shambles, with a collapsed economy, dysfunctional institutions, displaced people, destroyed infrastructure, and very few basic services."

"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," the President rather boldly outlined in her year-end message.

He promised that with the support of Liberians and foreign partners, including the United States, the country which had suffered decades of civil unrest, will get there by achieving the 20,000 jobs. She noted that no country coming from where Liberia came can get by with a quick fix, as recovery and development are a gradual process that takes time.

"In seven years of this administration, we have put all of the fundamentals in place: 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."

"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", she concluded.

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