The NEWS (Monrovia)

30 January 2013

Liberia: 'Not Realistic, Frank'

A former Secretary General of the Press Union of Liberia says the annual message by President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf was unrealistic and not frank considering the level of poverty faced by Liberians.

Mr. Alphonso Zeon told the Truth Breakfast Show on Truth F.M. Tuesday the President Sirleaf failed to provide details on poverty reduction, job creation and support for Liberian businesses.

"The speech was not frank and realistic considering the poverty in the country. I expected details on poverty reduction, job creation and support for Liberian businesses," Zeon, in a strong tone, maintained.

He said there is a persistent problem about support to Liberian businesses and job creation which were not addressed in detail by President Sirleaf.

Zeon stressed that grassroots Liberians are not feeling the positive impact of Liberia's economic growth although he acknowledged the improvement in the economy, adding "the transfer of the benefit of economic growth has not gone down to the ordinary people."

Providing further analysis of the message, he admitted: "generally, I agree that the economy has grown overtime with the growth rate of GDP and CBL reserve. They are doing well in this area."

Zeon's critical analysis about job creation, poverty reduction and lack of support for Liberian businesses apparently come in the wake of huge laugher by President Sirleaf and lawmakers as she spoke about government's commitment on job creation.

Delivering her annual message to the Second Session of the 53rd Legislature Monday at the Capitol, President Johnson-Sirleaf

noted that she received a report that government has met its target of job creation.

As she led lawmakers in laughter, this is what President Johnson-Sirleaf said: "reports submitted to me suggest that we have met our target commitment on job creation, but overwhelmingly in short-term positions; continuing her laughter, the President repeated her statement "Let me read that sentence again. Reports submitted to me suggest that we have met our target commitment on job creation, but overwhelmingly in short-term positions."

She stated that if government's objectives for jobs are to be fully achieved, "we must move more rapidly on the renovation and expansion of the Monrovia Vocational Training Center and other technical and vocational training centers around the country."

President Sirleaf wants a resolution to those issues that delay housing construction and investment operations which, she said, are the main sources of job creation.

"Additionally, we must improve our job reporting system so that we can get it right," the President said in her annual message.

Last year, the Ministry of Labor disclosed that over 22,000 jobs were created, but it did not say whether the jobs were on a short term basis.

The report provided by the Labor Ministry was greeted by public reactions. Some members of the public argued that they were disappointed by the report because the Ministry of Labor failed to provide statistics and data of those who benefitted from the 22,000 jobs promised annually.

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