Conflict of Interest Killing Liberia’s Progress for Development-Simeon Freeman
MONROVIA – The Political Leader of the Movement for Progressive Change (MPC) and businessman, Simeon Freeman, says officials of government who buy equity in private companies as those responsible for the country’s under development. He said, “They are killing the country’s progress of being developed.”
Freeman said government officials need to understand that they are serving the Liberian people and should not be involved in such “bad act of conflict of interest”.
Mr. Freeman said having equity in private business or company leads to blurring their vision for the interest of which they have been selected to serve.
“As a government official or minister, it’s just impossible for you to persuade the interest of the Liberian people. Don’t forget, our people look up to you to create opportunities for them. We will be able to change it if we are aware of it,” Mr. Freeman said.
Mr. Freeman said it’s not enough for government during assets declaration to state that for instance his or her child has 10 acres of land but should go along with the deed or if an official said his aunt 50 million, which is anticipated of being acquired while serving said position, assets declared should go along with titles.
He said until Liberia can be terror on these issues, these are modern times and people are tactical and would lead to providing misinformation to the public.
Mr. Freeman said he intends to provide information about Liberia’s challenges and solutions, an initiative he terms as a civil education program.
Mr. Freeman said this is something that have been happening over the years and not unique to the George M. Weah-led administration
Mr. Freeman said there were many conflicts of interest with several top government officials either having shares, providing services and
“Several years ago, there was a company called Lofa Logging Company, particularly in 1970. They had a total construction concession area of 295,000 acres and a Liberian official George Padmore was a shareholder,” Mr. Freeman said.
According to him, some of the government officials were lawyers, shareholders and advisors and another logging company in 1973 had 65,000 concession area in Lofa County and Martin B. Coleman and Kerkula B. Kpoto had share in the concession.
Mr. Freeman said in 1973, the national logging company had 444,800 acres. Bushrod Logging Corporation and Liberia had several companies with Liberian government officials holding shares.
Mr. Freeman said the goal is that Liberia does not repeat these terrible mistakes, which have hampered the country’s development over the years.
According to him, President William V. S. Tubman while serving as President of Liberia, he was also legal advisor to Firestone Liberia which is conflict of interest.
“We still see similar trend today even though Liberia has a Code of Conduct. These things are happening now because people did it yesterday. If we know the fact and understand that these things are inappropriate, we will not be repeating them,” Mr. Freeman noted.
Mr. Freeman said if given the Presidency, he will establish data center to keep track of this information that will be provided by government officials and will be integration of all government files and every sector will have access to it.
“It will be something easy that if you put in Simeon Freeman, you going to see everything about Mr. Freeman. With this, it makes it difficult to lie. Today, we are in a country where everything to written documents and nothing is placed online, therefore it’s just easy to say anything,” Mr. Freeman said.
According to him, if Liberia will be able to fight corruption, we must be able to change our approach towards some of these things and how to deal with these issues, then our approach will be in the right direction.
He said Liberians go to other countries and celebrate these things and they are not happening by mistakes but by conscious efforts of leaders in those countries.
“If we want a better Liberia, a prosperous Liberia, we have to change our approaches. We must be serious about the steps we are taking and avoid things that happened yesterday. You can even say you have US$200,000 in one bank and tomorrow you leave and no evidence anywhere. You can claim that your relatives had this and at the end you take the country money and pass it on to them,” Mr. Freeman said.
He said this is what the new Liberia under Simeon Freeman will be about and he’s ready to institute said measure in Liberia.