Liberia: ANC Alexander Cummings Promises to Raise the National Budget to US$1bn If Given the Chance
MONROVIA — The Political Leader of the opposition Alternative National Congress (ANC), Mr. Alexander Benedict Cummings, has vowed to help ensure the improvement of Liberia’s Fiscal National Budget from a little over US$500 million to at least US$1billion when given the opportunity to serve at the level of the Liberian presidency.
The ANC is one of the political parties that make up the Collaborating Political Parties. Other political parties that form part of the CPP include: All Liberian Party (ALP), Liberty Party (LP) and the former ruling Unity Party.
Mr. Cummings assured that between three to five years of his administration, he and his team will ensure the actualization of the huge increment in the country’s fiscal national envelope for the benefit of the citizenry.
He gave the assurance when he appeared as guest on the Truth Breakfast Show (TBS) on Truth FM96.1 in Paynesville, outside Monrovia on Wednesday, March 31.
“I know it can be done and I know how to do it and we will do the analysis. Ghana is about five times about our population and I believed that their national budget is around eight or 10 billion. Let’s say that we are about 20% of theirs. So, 20% of that we should be around one and the half or two billion”.
“To say that after 173 years our budget can’t get to a billion dollar-shame on us. We got to think differently. This is an aspiration that we should go after. Between three to five years, we can move from US$500 million budget to a billion”.
He stressed the need for the maximizing of the sources of revenue generation through the creation of an enabling environment for investment in the tourism sector rather than just depending on income generated from custom and excise taxes, land fees, mining, forestry, and maritime, among others.
“The way you grow revenue is to grow the economy to create jobs”.
Mr. Cummings disclosed that the empowerment of Liberian-owned businesses by providing access to loan opportunities or setting up a fund to enable them purchase directly from manufacturers will help boost the country’s economy and grow the national budget.
“I have not sat with the President and the Economic Management Team and they have not asked me. But we have given recommendations in writing and not verbally. They are playing with the future of the current and future generations”.
He claimed that many of those serving the country’s leadership do not have the ability and confidence to understand and subsequently implement suggestions proffered by some members of the opposition community.
He stated that a projection of growth in the country’s economy made by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) is welcoming, but it should have a trigger-down effect on the lives of the ordinary Liberian citizens.
Mr. Cummings observed that though allocations of resources in the national budget have not been done adequately to affect the lives of the ordinary citizens, because government has not been able to source or generate the needed resources.
He further promised not to relent on expanding prison facilities in the country to prosecute and incarcerate public officials who are found guilty of corruption under his administration.
According to him, assets of guilty public officials will also be confiscated based upon the evidences provided without any sympathy, fear or favor.
“To say that after 173 years our budget can’t get to a billion dollar-shame on us. We got to think differently. This is an aspiration that we should go after. Between three to five years, we can move from US$500 million budget to a billion.”– Alexander B. Cummings, Political Leader, Alternative National Congress
Why Liberia is backward
Mr. Cummings expressed disappointment that Liberia as an aged-old society continue to suffer from bad road conditions, poor health infrastructure, lack of education opportunities for citizens, among others.
He, however, attributed Liberia’s backwardness to entrenched corruption and mismanagement of the country’s wealth and resources.
He added that for too long past and current officials of Liberia placed keen focus on their friends, family members, tribes, and partisans of their various political parties, excluding the ordinary citizens and others from the developmental plans of the nation.
He added that mixed choices from national leaders on addressing national issues have negatively affected the nation and its people
“There are several reasons for where we are as a nation and people. The corruption that has been with us, the lack of commitment to our national development plan that is inclusive and thinks about everybody; we have not reconcile ourselves as a country or people. All of these things get us to where we are”.
“Until we stop corruption, until we stop mismanagement; until we develop a national plan that serves everybody or every county; until we stop these artificial divisions among tribes, gender and religions-we got to try to address and fix these things. This country is worse off today than it was”.
Mr. Cummings maintained that he remains committed and willing to serve Liberia and its citizens at the level of the presidency in order to form or build a team that will help address these issues for the transformation of Liberia and its citizens.
He claimed that leadership deficit has been missing in the Liberian society.
Lot of work to do
Mr. Cummings further pointed out that Liberia’s next national leadership after the end of CDC government will have a mammoth task to restore Liberia to where it was prior to the inauguration of President Weah and to move the country forward.
He described the pending 2023 general and presidential elections as crucial and called for the elections of leaders with positive track records.
“We should be electing individuals and people that can show a record of accomplishment or achievements. There’s a saying that the best way to predict future performance and behavior is past performance and past behavior. What have the people done in their career? What can they point to? What kind of people does him or she has around them? These are the things we should be looking for in the leadership of our country”.
Speaking further, Mr. Cummings disclosed that leaders of various political parties that make up the CPP have agreed to follow few processes in finding a standard bearer for the coalition as stipulated in the framework document signed.
He named the processes as the reaching of a consensus among the political parties, the holding of a Voter’s Perspective Survey (VPS) which will not be binding on the delegates or voters and a national convention where all parties will have equal delegates who will be accorded the opportunity to elect the standard bearer of the CPP through a voting process.
Consensus ruled out with optimism
Mr. Cummings pointed out that the possibility of political parties within the CPP reaching a consensus for the selection of a standard bearer remains difficult.
“It’s unlikely that we will reach consensus. What I need to do and I am sure that my other colleagues are doing-is that we got to lobby the people of Liberia-the delegates. We are going to make our case to these people who will ultimately make a decision”.
“I believed that we will do the work within the CPP and within the country and we will be successful in the process. I am very, very much confident. I am also confident in the Liberian people. I will do the work that requires to be selected”.
Mr. Cummings pointed out that he and the ANC will abide by the outcomes of all of the processes enshrined in the framework document.
He further ascribed his unbending quest to contest and become Liberia’s next President to his ambition to “help to change and transform” the country.
He noted that he envisions empowerment for young Liberians to see them excel and become successful in the future.
Opting to be first
Partisans and supporters of the CPP have been consistently engaged into the throwing of jibes at one another over who heads the party’s ticket come 2023.
These engagements have sometimes lead to internal wrangling among some political leaders and executive committee members of the parties within the CPP.
Mr. Cummings claimed that he remains unwavering to be elected as the standard bearer of the CPP due to numerous calls from his supporters.
“Many people have said to me I need to go first. We have people who believed in us and who believed that we can change this country and go first. Those are the people we are listening to”.
He said leaders of the four collaborating parties and others should avoid being personal toward the election of a political leader for the coalition and brace themselves to support and embrace the views or decisions of Liberians.
Don’t vote because of popularity
Mr. Cummings, however, urged Liberians to desist from casting their votes during future elections for individuals based on sympathy or because of their popularity.
“We as a people have to be prepared to make some hard choices. We should not elect the next leadership because of popularity. We have to go for capability and capacity. If we do these things and work together to form the right team, we can change this country-not overnight or easily, but it can be done”.
He noted that electing popular leaders based on sympathy has not done well for Liberia and its citizens.
“We can’t keep doing the same thing and expect different results; we can keep electing people on the same experiences and we expect things to change”.