TWO MONTHS AGO, FRONTPAGEAFRICA published an editorial titled “Robbing Peter to Pay Paul”. In that piece concerns were raised over the government crying over its wreaked economy for which it wants to impose additional taxes through tariffs on mobile calls and taxes on alcoholic beverages.
WHILE CITIZENS WERE YET TO digest their disappointment over the government’s request, an Executive Order issued by the President within the same period of time sought to create the avenue for pension benefits for former Presidents, Vice Presidents, members of Cabinet, members of the Legislature and Justices of the Supreme Court.
FRONTPAGEAFRIA WONDERED WHY the government was thinking in that direction when it was already seeking the sympathy of the citizens to meet up with the budget.
THE PREVIOUS EDITORIAL MENTIONED the extravagant and wasteful spending of this government. Isn’t it wasteful when ministers and their deputies ride the latest cars worth several thousands of dollars when these ministers barely cross Montserrado County. The cost of maintenance and fuel for these vehicles remain the burden of the tax payers. This is just one example.
AS THE GOVERNMENT HAS MADE IT blatantly clear that it is unable to raise the current budget which is just a little over US$600 million; news filtering in at FrontPage Africa suggests that the Liberia Telecommunications Authority is opting to continue a controversial lease agreement in which it would be paying US$375,000 per annum.
LTA IS CONSIDERING THE RENEWAL of the controversial lease at a time when government is complaining of its inability to raise the FY2016/2017 National Budget without levying additional taxes on citizens. In its attempt to meet up its financial obligations, the Executive wrote the Legislature to convene a special sitting to pass some austerity measures into law.
WHILE THE GOVERNMENTAL IS shifting the toll on citizens, some of its agencies and ministries are heavily engaged in wasteful spending without having any significant impact on lives of the tax payers.
THERE WAS MUCH PUBLIC outcry and anguish when Liberians, already grieved by the rampant corruption that had engulfed the country and making life difficult while slowing down the pace of development, were hit with the news of careless lease agreement signed by the LTA was reported by the FrontPageAfrica in 2014.
THE LTA, WHOSE LEASE WITH THE METHODIST Church, the landlord for one of its offices in Sinkor expired, moved into the controversial new building despite objections from the Ministry of Justice and the Public Procurement Concessions Commission.
PRESIDENT ELLEN JOHNSON SIRLEAF WAS critical of the controversial deal and froze the LTA account. Former Information Minister, at the time described the deal as an ‘error judgment’ by the LTA.
PRESIDENT SIRLEAF AT THE TIME also ordered the Ministry Of Justice to nullify the agreement between the LTA and the Chinese company, Qinjina International.
DESPITE ALL THESE, PRESIDENT ELLEN Johnson Sirleaf never hesitated to re-nominate Angelique Weeks as Chairperson of the LTA. But more surprisingly, Legislature which is supposed to be a checkmate speedily confirmed her nomination.
THESE ACTIONS MAKE ONE TO WONDER whether lawmakers at the Capitol understand the role they were elected to perform.
THE FIGHT AGAINST CORRUPTION in this country would not be won until lawmakers who are clothed authority to correct some of these rots remain silent with their arms folded as if nothing is happening.
IN TIMES LIKE THESE WHEN THE COUNTRY is wallowing in economic crisis, it will be unpatriotic and a disservice to the Liberian people should the LTA renew such a lease agreement when it was heavily condemned from the beginning.
If Liberia would develop, it must start with putting a stop to practices like these.