Speaker Chambers, Former President Sirleaf And The Liberian Economy
The Speaker of the House of Representatives of Liberia took a bold step in addressing issues surrounding the crippling Liberian economy.
In so doing he identified the cause and provided inadequate doses to cure the symptoms but not the illness itself.
The Speaker recommended that Liberia scraps the use of the so-called dual currencies and instead just revert to using the U.S. Dollar. There are couple of things basically wrong with this rationale:
1. The condition under which Liberia was using the U.S. Dollar as the sole legal tender no longer exists, and geopolitically, the U. S.has no vital interest in Liberia as it once did. The U.S. only views Liberia from two lenses – historical and humanitarian. Apart from these, Liberia serves no purpose to U.S. Interest, especially in these changing times. So what makes the Speaker to believe the U.S. will always consider Liberia when it prints money. Granted Liberia decides to rely on the U.S. Dollar unofficially, it means part of, if not most of, Liberia’s economic and political standing would disappear. Does the Speaker know the implication?
Moreover, even in his earnest attempt to establish the cause of the country’s economic woes, the Speaker also committed two fundamental errors by 1. Casting partial blame, 2. Making subjective conclusion.
The question for the Speaker is: where was the legislature when everything took place under the Sirleaf regime?
Speaker Chambers blamed former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf for the current economic problems but left out the Liberian Legislature which has the power to pass laws, rectify contracts and agreement as well pass budgets.
I have had some principled differences with former President Sirleaf. However, casting a 380-degree blame on her when things go wrong just because she was the president of the country just doesn’t cut it.
To address and refocus the Liberian economy requires having a responsible and serious legislature. The Speaker perhaps can help in ensuring this happens.
Mr. Speaker, lawmakers in the US worry and are more concerned about jobs in their districts and for their people. Most lawmakers in the US personally lobby for businesses and corporations to relocate or move to their states or political districts.
When the monthly employment, unemployment as well as unemployment rates are announced, lawmakers in the US jump up and down because they know that when Americans and their constituents don’t have jobs hell will break loose.
Can the Honorable Speaker tell Liberians as to how many lawmakers do care if Liberians have jobs? How many even think of wooing a company in their districts?
Can the Honorable Speaker say why the Liberian Legislature always passes and hurriedly rectifies bad deals?
It is much easier to blame President Sirleaf –and of course, she deserves serious blaming–but the Legislature plays a significant role in damaging the Liberian economy.
Just look at the kinds of salaries people make in the Liberian government. The unfriendly business atmosphere and more.
Last but not the least, legislatures, as well as leaders and top bureaucrats in serious countries and responsible governments, pursue the best minds from their homeland who are abroad. Sierra Leone just sent for my friend Sengeh, a Ph.D. from MIT and experienced GE/IBM employee and made him Chief Innovation Officer in the Office of the President.
In Liberia, we put obstacles in the way of our best minds from adding value to the country.
In short, to improve the Liberian economy requires a fundamental change of attitude, a new paradigm in doing things, and most importantly transparency, accountability and the rule of law. That means no one should pretend to be above the law.