Monrovia - Despite the criticism by many Liberians, including politicians, that the Unity party led government has failed Liberia, a presidential hopeful, Samuel Thompson, has taken different trend by encouraging Liberians to appreciate President Sirleaf for progress made over the years.
Mr. Thompson said despite the daily struggle, Liberians need to appreciate President Sirleaf for where she has taken country.
“Despite the daily struggles, we must appreciate the progress Liberia has made in the face of challenges imposed on our national leadership by 14 years of civil war, the Ebola crisis, the UNMIL drawdown, plus falling iron ore and rubber prices.
The war caused Liberia's gross domestic product or GDP to decline by 90%, Liberia’s external debt after the war was US$ 4.9 billion. Liberia has been trying to rise up from the bottom of a very deep hole,” he said.
At a news conference in Monrovia, Mr. Thompson said there are a number of things the government has done that needs to be celebrated by every Liberian.
“We must celebrate the following achievements, among many others, almost 14 years of peace and stability since 2003, the guns remain silent and we can sleep in peace at night."
"US$ 4.7 billion of our massive foreign debt has been cancelled, concession agreements of US$16 billion were signed for iron ore, oil palm, revitalization of cocoa farms, and oil exploration.
These agreements have paved the way for Liberians to benefit. However, land and labor disputes plus environmental concerns have limited actual spending to US$4.2 billion so far,” he said.
The presidential aspirant also said major road infrastructures have been completed with paved roads linking Monrovia to Ganta and Buchanan respectively, saying the Fish-Town-Harper Highway is being paved and funding is being concluded to pave the Ganta-Fishtown, Gbarnga- Salayea, and Buchanan-Greenville-Pleebo highways.
He said from a country without electricity supplied by a power grid, Liberia now has HFO power plants plus the Mount Coffee hydro dam to supply up to 126 MW this year.
Thompson said government is making major investments in port, airport and administrative office infrastructure throughout the length and breadth of the country.
“The Government is completing the Liberian Agricultural Transformation Agenda or "LATA".
"It is a bold and innovative plan to focus on agriculture through private sector investment and market systems, with an export-driven industrial policy. I have recently served as a Consultant to the Ministry of Agriculture to develop this plan,” he noted.
He did not forget the hard-ship Liberians are faced with thus calling on every Liberian elect the right person to address all of the economic problems the country is faced with.
“Do not overlook the chance you have to elect the right people to address these major problems we face: despite two democratic presidential elections and a series of Legislative by-elections since 2005, Liberia is the 4th poorest country in the entire world and thousands of our citizens go to bed hungry each night."
"The Liberian Dollar is very weak and we import almost everything we consume, from rice, to steel rods, to electric power.”
“Food prices are high, and a large number of Liberians live on less than US$1.00 per day. Unemployment is also very high and millions of our citizens live in substandard housing without access to pipe borne water, with poor medical care and a broken down educational system,” says Thompson.
He said there is no need for anyone to go to bed hungry every night in Liberia due to the high cost of food, saying, with the right policy environment and a strong political will, Liberians can produce food surpluses for citizens to buy rice and other basic food items with change coins.
He noted that the time has come to take strong affirmative action so that Liberians can own a greater share of the productive assets of their country.
“To change our poverty story, we must help our people to own productive land, houses and shares in various factories and infrastructure projects. We must also help Liberian small and medium enterprises to play a major role in their country,” he noted.
“However, we can and must avoid going back to the high level of debt that this government has managed to reduce.”