President George M. Weah Roads Construction priority, a “Pro Poor” Initiative

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By Amb. Cyrus Sambolai, Chairman, Coalition for Democratic Change, Pennsylvania Chapter- USA

Today is the tomorrow we talked about yesterday. The ascendency of the people’s party to power in Liberia is a reminder of the struggles of yesterday, and the outcome when the poor people stood in lines for three consecutive elections demanding change. Change has come. Change is here and change is one of the people and the people. Our country was pregnant for decades and on December 26, 2017, she gave birth to a true son, a fighter, a loyalist and a promise keeper, President George Weah.

During the Inauguration speech of President George Weah on Monday, January 22, 2018, the president of Liberia said,” I intend to construct the greatest machinery of pro-poor governance in the history of this country. I will do more than my fair share to meet your expectations. I ask you to meet mine, for I cannot do it alone.” As it is cleared and the simplicity of the president’s intention shows his unwavering support for the ordinary poor people, yet; comrades for the sake of being opposition launched attacks on the president intend to build government policies with a focus to the most needed, the poor. However; these attacks did not distract the People’s president from being focused to address the people’s plights. In spite of the rigid economic situation handed to this government by her predecessor, the president in keeping his promise and in his fight against the hunger of today imposed by rocketed prices of basic commodities, instructed his tax technicians to look into the reduction of taxes on basic consumables as a first step to addressing a GIFT (raising inflation) he received on January 22, 2018 when authority was turned over to him by then president Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.

However; despite the many conjecturing and insinuations by many oppositions to the president’s “Pro Poor” declaration, and couple with recent disapproval by some of our friends, oppositions and well-meaning Liberians over the Legislature recent rectification  and approval of the US$536 ETON Private Finance Loan, a tool meant to enable the Coalition for Democratic Change led government to discharge her promises to the people of Liberia, I would prior to expanding on the social and economic opportunities this project would create for our country and people congratulate the Legislature for its concurrence with the executive on this landmark approval. I assure all you honorable men that when the harvest gets wipe, and the produce begins to manifest in the lives of the poor families who by the day lost their loved ones from curable diseases due to the inaccessibility of public or private health facilities, this remarkable approval will speak to your records, and not only the records of president Weah.

Moreover; our country has for so long lost the tangible proceeds of doing business despite its many natural endowments and well-educated people who have managed this space. The lack of economic infrastructure has discouraged potential long-term investments, as in the absence of basic infrastructures like Roads, sewage system, water including stable and affordable electricity, the cost of doing business gets higher, something that disfavors us and favors countries far and nearby were our resources are manufactured and turned into consumables, thereby creating new jobs including goods and services for other nations and leaving us with inflation, unemployment and the exodus of investors when demand for our raw materials falls on the world market. The lack of infrastructure- specifically roads undermines our country’s capacity of generating real local revenues by the inaccessibility of tax agents to get to sites in rural areas were resources like gold and diamond are discovered and illicitly mined. This has been a way of life and we have lost so many resources and this is no time to watch the normally slow pace of politics hinders potential economic prospects of our beloved country.   

According to the International Monetary Fund World Economic Outlook ( April 2018 Publication), the first top 10 countries with the highest Gross Domestic Product in Africa are Nigeria, South Africa, Egypt, Algeria, Angola, Morocco, Ethiopia, Kenya, Sudan and Tanzania.  The top of these countries have the continent best road infrastructures with Nigeria and South Africa coming 1st and 2nd respectively while Morocco, Kenya among others are enlisted with Ghana listed as one of the countries that made it closer to the top 10.. Source: World Economic Forum Competitive Report: Road Quality Index 2016-2017.

Africa has six of the world’s 10 faster-growing economies as of 2018 World Bank Performers Listing, namely; Ghana, Ethiopia, Cote d’Ivoire, Tanzania, Senegal & Djibouti. All of these countries have basic working economic infrastructures that currently drive private sector investments t with a competitive increase in domestic economic activities including domestic investments and local partnership in these countries. These statistics indicate that with our country’s infrastructure deficit, in spite of all of the gains through a  functioning democracy- respectful to the rule of laws, evidenced by the three peaceful consecutive elections and the smooth and democratically turnover of power to an opposition for the first time in our country’s history, attaining economic stability and advancing the livelihood of our people are still unachievable in the absence of basic infrastructures, a stimulant of investments, wealth and advancement.

Upon completion of the Coastal Highways and connecting all those southeast countries  coupled with the government promise on continual road expansion around the country, Liberia stands to address numerous economic problems amongst which are creating access from farms-markets to cities, building markets and increase access to resources by rural farmers, increasing productivity and competitiveness and attracting long-term direct foreign investment all of which would address efficiently the economic hardship that currently engulfs the country.

Our country is at infrastructural deficit and if we are to place our country amongst competitive economies in the world, we must address this infrastructures deficit, and yes there is a cost of addressing this problem, and US$356m is no much a higher cost than the benefits our country and people stand to achieve once these ongoing projects are finalized.

It is our hope that all of us join the president and give our country the chance to change, and that change we must achieve together by lending support not to the Coalition of Democratic change, but to the “Coalition of Liberians”.

God bless Liberia!!!!!!!!

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