Monrovia - The Economic Freedom Fighters of Liberia (EFFL) has frowned on the decision of the George Weah’s ‘Pro-poor’ government to reduce the budget of the Ministries of Agriculture, Health and other agencies of government.
The group, in a press release on Tuesday, March 20 said the President Weah’s decision, which is captured in the recast budget, is a “direct contradiction of the government pro-poor agenda”.
“The recasting of the budget was a unique platform for President George M. Weah to illustrate his assurance to the ordinary Liberians that his administration is ready for business,” EFFL said in a release.
The group noted that, reducing the budget of the Ministry of Agriculture from US$ 6,026,429 to US$5,321,457 and the Ministry of Health from US$75,617,974 to US$72,224,058 is tantamount to reducing the two ministries of government to a level of dormancy due to the lack of funds.
“The recast budget was undoubtedly the single biggest opportunity for President George Weah to demonstrate his commitment to his “pro-poor agenda” the now mantra of his administration.
“It was an opportunity and platform for the President to show to Liberians and the world that his administration is going to put in place the appropriate policies and programs intended to empower and lift poor Liberians out of poverty,” the group said.
“Even if these reductions are not considerable, they sent the message that the Weah administration is not committed to the pro-poor agenda that is being trumpeted by his followers and supporters. The administration seems to be preaching pro-poor and practicing pro-rich.”
The group rejects the move to reduce the budget of the MOA and MOH, saying they are essential part of the government functionaries.
“We are fully aware of the economic constraints that necessitated the need to adjust the appropriations to various ministries and agencies. But the EFFL strongly holds the view that just adjustments or reductions should not affect very strategic and vital sectors of the economy, especially so when the government is preaching a pro-poor agenda.”
Taking into considerations the current economic constrains, it is politically unspeakable for the government of Liberia to give USD$ 500,000 (Five-hundred Thousand United States Dollars) to the first lady and give similar amount to JFK medical center, the EFFL said.
“Secondly, it is totally disheartening to note that our president after promising to cut his unknown benefits by 25% is about to use Four Million (4M) in less than four months on presidential activities."
"This is not only unpatriotic but awful and unthinkable on the part of a man who presented himself to the people as the real solution to our national social-economic bereavement,” the release said.
At the same time, the group condemned the action of President Weah for his failure to declare his assets as prescribe by law; but instead, his major concern is the reconstruction of his private property.
The EFFL is also calling on the President to rescind the appointment of Gabriel Nyenkan as director of the Liberia Extractive Industry for Transparent Initiative (LEITI), stating that the decision violates the act that established the agency.