Liberia: MPC Calls for Privatization of LEC, LWSC

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Mr. Simeon Freeman, Political Leader, Movement for Progressive Change (MPC)

The political leader of the opposition Movement for Progressive Change (MPC), Simeon Freeman has called on President George M. Weah led-government to privatize the Liberia Electricity Corporation (LEC) and Liberia Water and Sewer Corporation (LWSC) in order to achieve the anticipated outcome.

Mr. Freeman made the assertion on Friday, January 29, 2021 in response to President George M. Weah's 3rd State of the National Address where he (Weah) indicated that these institutions continue to receive huge funds but with low results or no anticipated outcome for the Liberian people.

The two public corporations are essential in the provision of basic utilities, but their activities over the years have met public disappointment. LEC's power has not reached many in Monrovia and, where it is accessible, power theft is rampant. Furthermore, people who want to access power legitimately can hardly have as receiving meters, wires and poles from LEC is a difficult task. In fact, many have complained over the years that registering with the LEC brings no light to them except the field workers who charge and receive money separately for all the materials and equipment.

LWSC's water line is a challenge as most of the transmission pipes are old and ruptured. Often times the pipes burst and leak water out, and since the country returned to normalcy this public entity has not been able to supply water to all parts of Monrovia.

"Last year, the President's Executive Order on the Liberia Electricity Corporation granted exclusion for GST on generation, transmission, distribution, materials, equipment and fuel. This did not translate to availability of electricity, neither did it translate to drop in the price. Ultimately, as of the last administration of former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, up to US$120 million dollars has been spent from direct tax revenue," Mr. Freeman said.

Freeman said the return on investment is arguable and therefore he wants to advise strongly that the LEC, LWSC and Liberia Petroleum Refining Company (LPRC) be privatized.

The privatization, Mr. Freeman said, should not be turned over wholly to foreigners, but the government should set a framework for a successful public-private partnership in which it is only an equitable holder but with no say in the day-to-day running of the organization, or a 100 percent private-partnership in which Liberian businesses have competing equity and GOL will receive taxation and asset liquidation repayment over a period.

"To achieve this in the interest of the Liberian people, the MPC avails itself and its services free or charge to enable the anticipated outcome of these institutions," Mr. Freeman said.

Commenting on the President's request to the National Legislature for an Act to create Liberia Standard Authority, Mr. Freeman said the MPC does not see the need for the creation of such an entity now.

"There are about 100 public institutions in Liberia, and revenue is already limited. We don't see the need for the creation of another public institution which will significantly impact revenue sources," Mr. Freeman said.

Mr. Freeman urged the Legislature not to adhere to call made by President Weah in the creation of additional public institution, which he believes will burden the already limited resources.

Instead, he called on the Legislature to strengthen existing institutions including the Ministry of Commerce and Industry to enable the outcome anticipated by the establishment of the standard authority.

On the whistleblower Act, Mr. Freeman said those who in good faith had availed themselves to expose corrupt practices had died mysteriously and investigation about circumstances leading to their deaths had not fully taken place.

"We urge the Legislature to encourage the justice system to reexamine the available pieces of evidence to identify the true culprits in several mysterious deaths that had taken place here. Ultimately, we would have strengthened confidence in our commitment to fight inappropriateness in Liberia if our justice system were fair and up to the task," Mr. Freeman said.

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