Liberia: Nimba County Representative Larry P. Younquoi Claims That Liberians Are Suffering Due to Fiscal Indiscipline
MONROVIA – Nimba County Representative Larry P. Younquoi has attributed the growing wave of economic hardship and poverty on vast majority of Liberians to the lack of fiscal discipline among officials managing revenue-generating ministries and agencies of the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) led-government of President George Manneh Weah.
Representative Younquoi stated that most often revenue entities of the government do not stick to the expenditure of monies allocated in the national budget, but continue to go extra mile in spending finances needed to help provide basic social and other services to the Liberian people.
He made these comments in a telephone interview with FrontPageAfrica on Monday, August 31.
He named the inability of the government to bring on board or incorporate Liberians who have the requisite expertise in various sectors as another factor that is immensely contributing to the decline in the wellbeing of citizens’ livelihood and the improvement of the nation.
Representative Younquoi maintained that government has created an unfriendly environment to attract investment opportunities due to the manner and form local businesses continue to experience difficulties in establishing or acquiring the relevant documents to proceed.
He noted that local and foreign entrepreneurs are no longer putting their trust in commercial banks due to the withdrawal of monies from these banks under dubious or clandestine circumstances and the surreptitious borrowing of donor funds by government.
“The continuous wave of hardship in Liberia is largely contributed by the lack of fiscal discipline. Fiscal discipline in the simplest form is due to the inability of government or any spending agency to tie itself down to what is budgeted. Look at the National Port Authority (NPA) and the amount of money they raised. From the money they raised, they decide what to give to the National Budget. We are not sincere with this country”.
Unfriendly business climate
“The taxation regime has to be people friendly. Look at the manner in which businesses find it difficult to establish or sustain themselves in the country couple with whole lot of things, including dig hole, cover hole; lack of transparency in the banking sector because people monies are withdrawn and nobody knows who did it; government is taking donors monies-monies that were brought into the country to help us”.
Representative Younquoi noted that the lack of experience of most “government operatives” remains a major contributor to the current level of hardship and economic constraints in Liberia.
He indicated that the situation has the proclivity of eroding international confidence in Liberia’s governance process.
“The inexperience of most of the government’s operatives definitely has to be responsible for where we are today; because that makes international confidence in the government very difficult to come back. It’s almost like we are on our own”.
“The continuous wave of hardship in Liberia is largely contributed by the lack of fiscal discipline. Fiscal discipline in the simplest form is due to the inability of government or any spending agency to tie itself down to what is budgeted. Look at the National Port Authority (NPA) and the amount of money they raised. From the money they raised, they decide what to give to the National Budget. We are not sincere with this country”.– Nimba County Representative Larry P. Younquoi
He noted that the low level of international confidence in Liberia’s governance process is intended to help prevent any form of uprising in the country.
“We are having international presence because of what we call stereotype or the template mood of intervention. International Monetary Fund (IMF) has to be around even with a wicked government (giggles)-but they only come to make sure that you get small money to pay your people so you do not have uprising among the people”.
“They will not guarantee millions or billions of dollars to carry on massive development knowing fully well that you don’t have the capacity to raise the necessary resources. Even the aid that we are used to; it doesn’t carry you beyond making you to survive; but it is investment that makes you to live”.
Lack of investment
Speaking further, the Nimba County lawmaker stated that the lack of foreign-direct investment opportunities is hampering the betterment of the living condition of Liberians and improvement of the country.
He noted that the necessary avenues must be created by government to attract investment opportunities if Liberia is to be on par with other countries across the African continent.
He added that bad road conditions, lack of basic social services, deplorable state of public schools, lack of adequate public health centers in the leeward areas, among others, will continue to exist in Liberia due to government’s inability to tackle its prolong delay in attracting investment opportunities.
Political will lacking
Meanwhile, Representative Younquoi has challenged President Weah to muster the political will to address societal ills and move the country forward.
He added that the President lacks the political will to address numerous ills in the Liberian society.
He termed as “risky” the decision taken by the Liberian Chief Executive to snub the recipient of a petition statement from a group of Liberians, who protested against the escalation of rape cases, involving babies and minors across the country.
Representative Younquoi noted that President Weah failed to exhibit the political will to receive the petition and have the petitioners informed that his government is taking steps against the menace, including the allocation of money in the national budget for the purchasing of a DNA machine to help in the prosecution of perpetrators.
“The political will is not there to do many things. What is the essence of you letting women to be in the streets to demonstrate for three days when you could have come the very first day and tell them the good things you are doing?”
He urged the Liberian leader to ensure that proper accountability is provided on the Covid-19 Household Food Distribution Program and the US$25M mop-up exercise spearheaded by Finance and Development Planning Minister Samuel Tweah.
The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Bhofal Chambers, has been consistently accused by his colleagues of steering the affairs of the House and presiding over sessions in a “partisan posture”.
Voices or concerns from critical lawmakers expressing dissenting opinions are normally sanctioned at the House.
Most often, the situation has led to outburst from some lawmakers during regularly sessions, and compelled others to express their views on issues at separate press conferences.
Representative Younquoi expressed disappointment over the failure of members of the National Legislature to adequately debate draft national budget submitted before its passage.
He claimed that high level of partisanship most often prevents lawmakers from holding debates on national budgets to ensure that various appropriations benefit their constituents and the Liberian people in general.
“You are a journalist. Have you ever seen us (lawmakers) discuss budget line by line. People use partisanship to strangulate discussions. I am going to my nine years and few months in the Legislature and I have never debated national budget here”.
He continued: “The budget normally stays long with the Committee and as soon it comes to us- yea, nay-we passed it. We supposed to be going line by line. The House of Representatives is not really living up to the expectation of the Liberian people. Some of us don’t have the official means of expressing these things on the floor. That’s why we are saying these kinds of things that we are saying. The Speaker stifles independent views most of the time”.