Monrovia — President George Weah has called for an urgent need to cleanse the Judiciary Branch of Government for a favorable business and investment climate.
President Weah said in addition to policy measures put into place in easing challenges faced by investors and business people in Liberia since his leadership, he will boost efforts to completely overhaul the processes involved in starting and maintaining a business and simplifying them.
The Liberian leader made the statement at the 4th day session of the 4th National Judicial Conference taking place at the Ministerial Complex in Congo Town, held under the theme: "The Law, Public Policy and The Economy."
The President cautioned judicial actors to be steadfast in the implementation of the rule of law. He said as a branch of government which is constitutionally empowered to interpret the Constitution and the body of statues enacted by the Legislature, the Judiciary sits at the center of the Liberian society.
He said: "If the law is the problem then let us reform the law. If the processes and systems are the Problems, let us change those processes. If the lack of funding is the problem, let us find ways to provide resources. If certain people are the problem because of selfish motives to stand in the way of fair and transparent processes, then let us kick those people out of the systems to improve our investment and business."
Addressing Chief Justice Francis Korkpor, he said:"Mr. Chief Justice, you will agree with me that if we make it difficult for businesses to register, to get electricity, or to pay their taxes, we affect the economy. If businesses cannot get timely legal redress from the courts, or if contracts cannot be effectively or fairly enforced, we affect the investment climate. If commercial banks cannot enforce judgement on collateral when people default on their loans, these banks may not be able lend money into our economy."
Speaking further, the Liberian leader added that the delay in the judgement, ruling or legal interpretation of cases at the Judiciary can influence the public perception of fairness and Justice.
He said the only branch of government that holds the keys to the people and institutions' perception in the sense of Justice in Liberia is the Judiciary Branch of Government, and as such the actors should perform their sworn duty to the fullest.
"And so to say that Liberia is a just society, we do not turn to the Executive Branch of Government, neither do we turn to the Legislative Branch of Government. Only one branch of Government holds the key to people's and institutions' perception and sense of justice in Liberia. That branch is the Judiciary branch of Government."
According to him, Liberia's business and investment climate has been a subject of 'great importance in recent years, and it is government's drive to provide jobs for the people and to grow the economy by increasing the flow of both domestic and private investments are all dependent on the structure of the business climate.
And that very structure, he said, depends on the body of laws and policies which are in place to regulate the free flow of investments and commerce, the process and time it takes to resolve legal disputes arising from the application of these laws, and the sense or perception of justice that arises from this adjudication process.
Liberia ranks 175 out of 190 countries. Comparing Liberia neighbors Sierra Leone which ranks 163 out of 190, and Cote d'Ivoire up 118 out of 190 countries, the President stressed that more needs to be done.
"This indicates that we, as a Government and country have some serious work to do," he said; adding that conference provides greater opportunity for the Judiciary to look at its contribution to changing these numbers through the application of the law, in key areas such as enforcing contracts, resolving insolvency, getting credit.
The President also promised to appoint a high level cabinet sub-committee to be chaired by Finance Minister Samuel D. Tweah to probe the challenges in the business and investment climate.
He noted the cabinet sub-committee will be tasked to present the road map following the conference that will track the recommended actions and changes needed for the improvement. It will be required to present a report after six months to show credible progress in the business climate in the various areas, he said.