Liberia: Ex-President Sirleaf Urges Government to Use Stimulus Package for the Needy

Madam Sirleaf: “We must care for the most vulnerable amongst us and look to use available resources as prudently as we possibly can”

Monrovia – Former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has urged state actors to use properly the stimulus support that has been provided by channeling resources for productive endeavors and for those really in need.

“We must care for the most vulnerable amongst us and look to use available resources as prudently as we possibly can,” she said, “Our churches have a responsibility too – to guide the flocks,’ the former leader said.

“This is possible by lifting the voices of the church in truth, and teaching that we take responsibilities for the direction of our lives and the advances we wish to make while asking the Almighty for his blessings and protection along the way.”

Speaking Tuesday at a forum on Impact Assessment of a Joint Ecumenical Collective Response Action to COVID-19 Pandemic held by the Faith Justice Network in Monrovia, Madam Sirleaf noted that Liberia must begin to plan for an “active effect” of COVID-19.

She recalled that the country’s progress against the Ebola epidemic was based on the collaboration of every Liberian, which was won through communication, coordination, leadership, and partnership – something she said must be emulated against COVID-19.

She alarmed that the country would continue to have unfavorable reports if the response effort is not void of politics.

“Liberia too has not been spared. However, we continue to register manageable number of cases, if the quality of our reporting is reliable,” she said of the situation of the coronavirus pandemic in the country.

She said the plan must focused on how to address the decline in economic growth, with negative effects on decline in production which might lead to disruption in supply chain, resulting to hike in prices and decline in debt sustainability.

“Today, we are faced with Covid-19, an economic and health-shock that is leaving devastating costs on lives and stifling our livelihoods. Such is the effect of Covid-19 on the world that death tolls are rising, healthcare systems are collapsing, economies are crumbling, political tensions are increasing, and social inequalities are expanding. Even the well-resourced health systems are under severe stress and being rapidly overwhelmed by the intensity of the transmission,” she said.

Even though the former Liberia leader said there are, and will be hard times ahead, she believes addressing these problems is incumbent upon every Liberian.

Unlike Ebola, the former Liberia leader said Liberia may not have the depth of partnerships that were mobilized.

Providing an overview of the occasion, the Vice Chair of the Board of Directors of FJN, Rev. Dr. Nuwoe-James Kiamu said that the “gathering is about impacts, especially in the wake of this COVID-19 pandemic and the Faith and Justice Network (FJN), an ecumenical body operating in these parts, desires to foster rich, healthy and sustained relationships between and among faith communities in the MRU sub-region (Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone).”

He said FJN seeks to impact politics, economy, education, environment, trade and commerce, health care delivery systems and infrastructure, policies and practices to influence MRU countries to think seriously about the lives of their citizens during such a crisis period.

He added that it is obligation of the church to engage various sectors of the society, so that COVID-19 does not become just another political opportunistic situation that will leave many people damaged, despised, desperate and doomed.

“As in the case of the not too distant EBOLA Virus Disease during President Sirleaf’s regime, the people continue to ask one question, what is the Church doing, they further ramify this question by asking, ‘What direction is the Church taking and what is it saying in such a time?’”

The clergyman stressed that the Church has not lost its prophetic voice, even if that voice is now softer, less forceful, and sporadic.

Rev. Dr. Kiamu then assured that the FJN will launch an “Impacts Assessment and Joint Ecumenical Collective Response Action to the COVID-19 Pandemic.”

“While we will not measure the impact of COVID-19 on us today, your participation will shed light on how to pursue this goal and how to know when we have achieved it,” he said

“Of course, you are already realizing some of the impacts not being able to readily recognize someone you know because they are masking their mouths and noses, critical identity features.”

Rev. Dr. Kiamu, at the same time, warned against attempts by “unscrupulous people” who will want to use mask wearing protocol to create havoc in communities.