Liberia: CDC-Proposed "Pro-Poor Agenda" - A Reaction

17 September 2019

Introduction

The fanfare, pomp and pageantry that characterized the presentation and, later, wide distribution and circulation of the proposed Pro-Poor Agendaby the CDC Coalition led by President George Weah prompt this article of critical Analysis and the Commentary on the issues in the following pages.

We will show and inform the Liberian People, their Partners-in-Progress and friendly Donors of the International Community that the Pro-Poor Agenda isapoly and deceptive. It is planned/designed based on a set of political beliefs and philosophy deeply-rooted ingraft/greed and massive theft of public resources - the roaring, rampant Liberia Corruption, Incorporated.

But Firstly, what are the relevant, significant meanings of the English-Language terms of "pro"&"poor"?

The term pro, a prefix, means, in this context, "for or on behalf of"; while, poor "is the condition of lack of material wealth and/or inability to acquire such wealth", in relative terms. The term poverty, "isthe condition of being poor",used, often, to express the same condition.

InternationalConvention has described economic povertyby determination of a level represented by number that denotes and known as being the acute crisis condition or Levelof being poor designated as the "Poverty Line". Poverty conditions found to be equal to or greater than this number or much more acute and damaging to human well-beingis said and determined to bebelow the Poverty Line. It is this Level or Number that is unacceptable to liberal, progressive and democratic governments, under law, committed to reduce, control and, eventually, eradicate through application of rational public policy.

The CDC-Proposed Pro-Poor Agenda

The Proposed Agenda is a Four-point plan designated as Pillars, a comprehensive, holisticprogram of work for social, cultural, economic and political development of the Liberian nation for prosperity, justice, freedom and Liberian "human freedom from want" as the Pro-Poor Agenda for Prosperity & Development (PAPD).

The Program asserts that "It is about the people, how to strengthen their capacity to thrive; how to draw all Liberians living at home and abroad into the national development process; that over the next five years, addressing the basic needs of Liberians for income security, better access to basic services, and greater opportunities for self-improvement in an enabling environment that is inclusive and stable will be at the core of the pro-poor agenda"; and that "while one of the aims, over the long term remains raising per capita income levels and economic status to a middle-income country as outlined under the Vision 2030 framework, the focus over the next five years will be on removing the binding constraints to reaching that goal" and constitute the following.

Goals of the PAPD

In view of the foregoing, the objectives of the PAPD are to:

a) "Build more capable and trusted state institutions that will lead to a stable, resilient and inclusive nation embracing its triple heritage anchored on its African identity; and

b) "Provide greater income security to an additional one million Liberians, and reduce absolute poverty by 23 percent across 5 out of 6 regions through sustained and inclusive economic growth driven by scaled-up investments in agriculture, in infrastructure, in human resource development, and in social protection".

Pillars of the PAPD

Accordingly, to make progress towards the PAPD and, eventually, the Vision 2030 goals over the next five years, the strategies and interventions built around four pillars which will form the pathways for the next five years are:

1. "Power to the People", to empower Liberians with the tools to gain control of their lives through more equitable provision of opportunities in education, health, youth development, and social protection;

2. "The Economy and Jobs", economic stability and job creation through effective resource mobilization and prudent management of economic inclusion;

3. "Sustaining the Peace", promoting a cohesive society for sustainable development and Governance; and

4. "Transparency", an inclusive and accountable public sector for shared prosperity and sustainable development. The second priority for the government under this pillar is reducing corruption. Corruption undermines the capacity of the state and increases the cost to deliver basic services. To achieve this, the government commits to strengthening anti-graft institutions as the foot soldiers.

The Proposed Agenda for Development & Prosperity (PADP)

Indeed, this proposal as written is a professional masterpiece of comprehensive, macroeconomic public policy analysis, planning and development program of work activities designed for socio-economic and political prosperity of the Liberian nation and People. But . . .

Who are the Proponents or Proposers?

In the light of the facts of history of Liberia'sturbulent past, recent past and the present- prevailing decadent socio-economic and political activities of Liberian GOVERNMENT & GOVERNANCE, answers to this question are and will be critical and crucial.

For,integrity, creditability - transparency, accountability, training/experience, commitment to the rule of law are axiomatic expectations/requirementsof an individual or organization, government or private, particularly, government in this case. These variables are a function of ordepend upon the character (acts of commission/omission or a set of belief systems or policy expressed or implied) of the leader or leaders of such organization(s). The Proposers of thePro-Poor Agenda are leading members of the CDC Government led by the President of Liberia, His Excellency, George M. Weah:

A. Mr. George M. Weah

According to public record, Mr. Weah was elected President of Liberia on October 10, 2017 and inaugurated as President on January 20, 2018. But President Weah is citizen of two foreign countries, a violation of Liberian Law by a sitting President; further:

1) As President, Mr. Weah flirted with and became close friend of a flamboyant, playboy politician, the former President of Liberia, Mr. Charles M. Taylor, African Chief political criminal serving a 50-year sentence in prison for political crimes against humanity. Mr. Weah, as candidate, selected Mrs. Jewel Howard-Taylor, estranged wife of the former President as running mate/Vice President on his CDC political Party ticket. Mrs. Taylor is, now, Liberia's Vice President while, simultaneously, Flag Bearer of the notorious National Patriotic Party of massive human rights violations and corruption.

2) President Weah vowed, publicly, that there will be no War Crime Tribunal in Liberia, a solemn commitment to the prevailing "culture of impunity", official protection of the civil war suspects from prosecution, a deeply-troubling statement.

3) President Weah declared recently that "If you know book but you do not own a house or bicycle, etc, you are stupid", in an apparent rebuke or criticism-mockery of Liberian academics, practicing political party politicians. Moreover, the President's public refusal to declare his assets is violation of and disobedience to law and, also, his reluctance-refusal to demand loyalists in high government positions declare assets say volumes to the people that public service is an opportunity to steal public resources, especially, at this time when he (the President) and associates are actively-engaged in massive acquisition of wealth.

4) President Weah has been, and is, in close, troubling alliance with some of the most deadly perpetrators of human rights violations - rapes, maiming, beatings, arrests, ethnic cleansing, massacres, and above all, summary executions without trial of innocent men, women and children.

5) In a public outburst in an apparent retaliation to criticism by Liberian academics/intellectuals, the so-called "political progressives, the President said, again, that "if you know book and you have no house or bicycle you are stupid". In this context, that statement translates to if you are an academic/intellectual and former or present employee of government but own no property, then you must be or that you are a fool, because public service is opportunity to acquire or amass wealth by stealing public resources.

6) The Government of President Weah is a different political party from all others, though not ideologically and, therefore, dominated by loyalists of the former President, including major war crimes suspects. Importantly, as indicated earlier, President Weah is, reportedly, not only citizen of foreign countries, a violation of Liberian law, but also, refuses, publicly, to declare assets as required by an Act of Legislature, the Code of Conduct, also law violation by a sitting President.

B. Samuel D. Tweah, Jr., Minister of Finance & Development Planning (MFDP)

This Agency of government was formerly the Ministry of Finance charged with responsibility only for Fiscal Affairs and known, historically, with its former section or division of the Revenue Agency, as the nation's centers forget-rich-quick schemes of graft/greed or the gurus of Liberian government stealing of public resources. Almost all wealthy land and related property owners of Mamba Point and new suburbs of Sinkor and elsewhere were executives or employees of the Ministry of Finance or the Revenue Agency. The Ministry of Finance is, now, the Super Ministry of Finance & Development Planning(MF&DP) and the Revenue Agency has, now, become Liberia Revenue Authority (LRA).

The Honorable Samuel D. Tweah is Minister and Head of this Agency of Government that prepared and presented the Pro-Poor Agenda:

1) As Minister of Finance & Development Planning, Honorable Samuel Tweahwas appointed by President Weah as Chairman of the Technical Economic Management Team (TEMT), in association of economic management cooperation/coordination with the Central Bank of Liberiafor implementation of Government's Mop-Up Exercise designed to buy out Liberian-dollar banknotes in excess circulation with 25 million US dollars.

2) But according to national/international investigation conducted and reports by Kroll Associates, Inc. and Liberia's Presidential Investigation Team (PIT), TEMT, chaired by Minister Samuel Tweah, was found guilty of avoiding organized commercial banks and licensed foreign-exchange traders and not using accepted/acceptable "best practices" to achieve best results.

3) Consequently, the Liberian people are up in arms, including, almost, all political parties and calling for the arrest and dismissal of the Minister of state for Finance & Development Planning, Hon. Samuel D. Tweah. The Politicians threaten a national protest demonstration.

4) The MF&DP and LRA are over-staffed, over-paid and dominated by dual citizens who do not live in Liberia, with families living, permanently, in the foreign countries. They travel periodically to these countries in which they maintain fabulous bank accounts with money "earned" in Liberia, transferred regularly out of Liberia.

5) They are paid 6-figured salaries and salary/wage allowances for housing, portable electricity generators and service, top-of-the-line, late model automobiles, local travel expense, telephone scratch cards, reported insurance coverage, newspaper allowance, etc.,although they plan and develop nothing.

6) The MF&DP is known widely to retain and pay itself huge sums from social, economic funds allocations for the counties; pay out huge sums to non-existent "educational" institutions; and huge sums as business/development loans to politically-connected, ineligible entities. The "Loans" have, now, become uncollectible.

C. Nathaniel R. Patray, III, Executive Governor, Central Bank of Liberia

The Honorable Nathaniel R. Patray, III, is Executive Governor of the Central Bank of Liberia (CBL). He was appointed Vice Chairman of the Technical Economic Management Team (TEMT) for cooperation/coordination with the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning for implementation of the Mop-Up exercise:

1) According investigation and reports by national/international agencies, TEMT was found guilty of unsuitable management practices in the use of US $25 million in implementation of the Mop-Up exercise. Therefore, Liberian political parties threaten national protest demonstrations with demand, also, for the arrest and dismissal of Honorable Nathaniel Patray, III.

2) Together, Central Bank of Liberia and the Ministry of Finance, have legal responsibility for Fiscal/Monetary Affairs of Liberia. In other words, the prevailing Fiscal/Monetary, macroeconomic paralysis is, and must be, laid at the feet of the CBL and Ministry of Finance. Both the MF&DP and CBL were found guilty of avoiding organized commercial banks and licensed foreign-exchange traders or not using accepted/acceptable "best practices" to achieve best results. It is very important, indeed mandatory, that we note that the conditions of 18-20 years ago continue and repeated/prevailing today.

For example, in our reaction to the printing of huge, but undisclosed, quantity of Liberian "Liberty" Banknotes, placing them in circulation and the withdrawal of highly-mutilated "JJ" banknotes some 18 years ago in 2001, we wrote an article while in the "comfort"of former PresidentTaylor's Monrovia Central Prison entitled, "Now That We Printed New Liberian Banknotes . . . dated June, 2001, basicallyon macroeconomic analysis with emphasison:

Liberia's foreign exchange rate regime; circulation of another country's national currency in tandem with one's own, the negative economic impact; arbitrary equivalence of foreign exchange rates based not on the interaction of market forces of supply/demand; basic economic reasons for depreciation of foreign exchange rates; the absence in Liberia of planned, developed industries for production of goods & services for local consumption to discourage Liberia's dangerous, excessivedependenceon imports and encourage export trade to reduce Liberia's balance of trade deficit; and improve Liberia's terms of trade; pay keen attention to and improve investment incentives and regulatory activities to attract direct foreign investment; and many others.

We sent a copy of our Paper to the Central Bank of Liberia. A response by the CBL Analyst, a Mr. Nathaniel R. Patray, III, dismissed the Paper as "Academic Exercise". That Analyst is the Executive Governor of the CBL today and faces the same problems of some 18 years ago.

Observations

Not only that past turbulent, deadly facts of history of Liberian Government and Governance are clear, comprehensive and validated record by many world-class historians (needs no repetitive citation here) that prompted the April, 1980 Event, but also, the most recent past 25-30 years of the Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf-sponsored civil warof destruction, population displacement as refugees, human suffering and death of quarter of a million Liberians, and the unprecedented high level of graft/greed or corruption question the integrity, credibility and transparency of the proposed pro-Poor Agenda.

Former President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf Regime

Billed as "democratically-elected", but her government secured political power by undemocratic methods - the overthrow of the legitimategovernment by force of arms, gruesome live-torture and murder of the President by insurgents sponsored and led by the Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf'sAssociation for Constitutional Democracy in Liberia (ACDL):

a) She was booted out of the Political Party - UNITY PARTY - that secured political power, wealth and fame. She is, now, the reported "power" behind the Presidential Throne of President George Weah having, reportedly, paid and supported the political campaign of candidate George Weah for protection from prosecution for alleged war and economic crimes. Her loyalists and major war crime suspects dominate most of the important ministries and agencies of the current Weah government.

b) Her Government must be credited with the highest level of population growth, explosion and movement - Rural-to-Urban Economic/Political Migration - without rational policy planning, guidance and control. This has been, and is, the result of hundreds of thousands or millions of young Liberians and their parents crammed and trapped in over-populated Ghetto and Slums of Monrovia's "suburbs", due to mind-boggling corruption in government much, much more than any other previous government in the history of Liberia.

c) There is, now, abject poverty, un-informed or high illiteracy rate, hunger, lack of adequate healthcare with unaffordable drug prices where and when available (highly pronounced in rural Liberia), unemployment, unsanitary living conditions, lack of safe drinking water, electricity, drug abuse, prostitution (sex, gay sex, any sex), high crime, etc., etc. In fact, international economic analysts and experts declared Liberia (its government) is the most corrupt government in a worldwide comparative analysis.

Conclusion

The foregoing analysis shows clearly that Governments of the Republic of Liberia did not, and do not, possess the required Moral Rectitude of Honesty, commitment/dedication to democratic Rule of law, loyalty and patriotism to the Liberian State and People; did nothing to defend and preserve the abiding quest for human freedom, justice and respect for the dignity of the human person throughout the 171-year history of the Republic as an independent, sovereign state up to this day and age.

It is very important, for posterity, to note that the Founding Fathers of the Republic who controlled and dominated all governments and major public policy decision-making were Black African-American Colonialists. They ruled the Liberian State/Nation in a black-on-black system of colonialism on the black African Continent and joined later by emerged/emerging indigenous, black political class.

Indeed, the proposal, Pro-Poor Agenda, prepared/presented by the current government is a copy from the works of international financial institutions, copy like almost all of Liberian laws, political/economic activities - social, cultural belief systems modelled on and/or copied from US/Western prescriptions - because Liberia does not possess nor maintain macroeconomic record of economic activities, trends of economic performance or non-performance. Moreover, the previous politicians/political leaders and the current government are not ready because they lack the resolve necessary to plan, organize and implement the so-called proposed "Pro-Poor Agenda".

We submit that detailed, comparative economic assessmentwill proveLiberian Government's un-readiness. The Agro-Industrial experience and successof the neighboring, formercolonial states - La Cote d'Ivoire and the Republic of Ghana,although with Liberia they share similarities ofsoil, abundant, lush green forest, annual rainfall, sunshine energy, streams, creeks, rivers, etc., for cocoa, coffee, oil palm and many other tropical products economic success,while Liberia remains, still, a dependent copycat.

Therefore, thePro-Poor Agendais a poly and deceptive; it is a copy, not home-grown, from international financial institutions, planned and designed based on a set of political beliefs and philosophy deeply-rooted ingraft/greed and massive theft of public resources - the roaring, rampant Liberia Corruption, Incorporated.

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