MONROVIA – The Liberian Business Association (LIBA) through its President James Strother has extended an open arm to work with the new Liberian administration led by President-elect Joseph Nyumah Boakai.
By Gerald C. Koinyeneh – [email protected]
Mr. Strother, flanked by LIBA’s top officials, addressing a press conference at the institution’s headquarters on Wednesday, congratulated President-elect Joseph Nyumah Boakai and Vice President-elect Jeremiah Koung on their landmark election during Liberia’ s just ended presidential polls. He said as the new administration takes office in January, LIBA will work with it to boost a vibrant Liberian business environment that will favor Liberian businesses and boost the economy. He expressed optimism that LIBA will work with the incoming government to build credible Liberian business – the ultimate purpose the institution was created for.
“We, the business people of this Republic, say welcome and congratulations. We are open to working with you for the growth of this country. Judging from one of your slogans ‘Think Liberia [Love Liberia] and Build Liberia. We want to say welcome and we are willing to work with you for the success of our country, Mr. Strother said.”
Mr. Strother expressed optimism that the incoming administration will have a cordial and fruitful relationship with LIBA as the president-elect Boakai is no stranger to LIBA. He said Boakai followed LIBA’s activities and even served as a guest speaker at its program during the administration of his predecessor. Boakai’s vice president Senator Koon, he noted is a successful businessman, and is in the best position to know the plights of Liberian businesses.
Amb. Boakai served as vice president for 12 years during ex-president Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s administration. He was defeated by President George Weah in the 2017 general elections. President Weah, during his inauguration in 2018, promised to create a vibrant business environment, pledging that “Liberians will not be spectators in their economy.”
However, the Weah-Taylor administration inherited a turbulent economy that was exacerbated by the drawdown of the United Nations peacekeeping troops (UNMIL), COVID-19 and the Russia-Ukraine war. Many Liberians have complained of the economic hardship. Critics say instead of being players in their economy, Liberians are outside of the stadium and are not even spectators – an expression used to show how bad Liberian businesses were faring.
Strother said while Liberian businesses were facing a series of challenges under the outgoing administration, the government and LIBA made some gains together and was optimistic that the Boakai-Koung administration will improve on them.
He named lack of access to loan, training and capacity building as some of the challenges grappling LIBA and its members. To create access to finance, he mentioned that the current administration has set up a mechanism to support Liberian businesses and was hopeful that the new leadership will continue the program.
However, without being specific, he said people have been usurping the functions of LIBA for too now and was hopeful that this government will put an end to that.
He said: “Government is continuity. The gains they made will continue in this government. For the challenges, not one government that created them. They have been in the system. And we have been looking for a government to come and address these situations.”
Continuing, he noted: “Now, we feel that this government will make some giant steps. Access to finance, training, building Liberian business capacity, skill training. We want to say LIBA was created by law to work with the government to build credible Liberian businesses. LIBA should be empowered to do just that. People have been usurping this function for too long.”