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Liberia: Rep. Samuel Enders Blasts Gov’t for Reneging Pro Poor Promise, Vows Not To Sign Draft Budget

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Capitol Hill, Monrovia – Representative Samuel R. Enders (Montserrado County – District #6) says the Government is not doing much to live up to its promise of running a pro-poor development agenda.

Rep. Enders, addressing a press conference at the Capitol Building on Thursday, September 26, vowed not to sign up for the passage of the fiscal year 2019/2020 draft budget.

Rep. Enders won massive votes as an independent candidate in the 2017 Presidential and legislative elections. He defeated the likes of Henry Costa and gospel musician Kanvee Gaines Adams to occupy the seat vacated by Rep. Edwin M. Snowe.

He has been somehow quiet since taking office at Capitol Hill, reasons he said were to give the new government the chance to put the right things in place as promised.

But, he said the period “honeymoon” with the Executive is over. Speaking on wide range of national issues surrounding the printing of new money, the 2019/2020 draft budget, Rep. Enders noted that the government is not living up its promise made to the people.

Said Enders: “The fact that we came to power with the conclusion that we are here to serve with the conclusion to maintain peace, with the conclusion to manage our budget to improve the lives of our people. Therefore we took what we called the Pro-Poor Agenda.  The agenda was to make sure our people have food on the table, their children have clothes to wear, their rents are paid and our health facilities are running adequately. But to our surprise these things are not happening.”

Against Printing of New Bank Notes 

Rep. Enders said he is not in support of President George Weah’s plan to introduce new money. 

Unless the shenanigans surroundings the printing of the L$15 billion and alleged missing billions and mismanagement of US$25 million used to empower small businesses as a way of strengthening the Liberian dollars are settled, Rep. Enders indicated there’s no need to print new money.

According to him, top government officials including the Minister of State for Presidential Affairs, Nathaniel McGill have been seen making huge cash donations in the communities, yet the government complained of being broke and civil servants are complaining of pay.

The President, he said, should state exactly how much he inherited from his predecessor.

Rep. Enders said: “I will support printing [new banknotes] if the President can tell us in clear numerical terms how much was received from the old government. How much did you see in the bank? You can’t continue to say there is no money when Nathaniel McGill can run around in my district and give the community LS$2.5 million and give the other business L$500,000, yet healthcare workers are not being paid, I myself have not been paid for some months. I haven’t had gas. And you cannot tell us there is no money but one group of people runs around with lots of money. So, for you to be able to print money, you must clear the doubt. How much was here when you took over?” 

“Secondly, how was the US$25 million expended? Where did it go, who has that money? Is it clear that John Brown get part of the US$25 million?  Let us establish those facts. If we establish those facts based on the investigations that were sent to us, then we can go out there and print money. If we go ahead and print money under all of these suspicions, that will not be right. We can print new money until we can clear all of these suspicions.”

There have been rumors of officials and private individuals having in their possession huge some of the newly printed bank notes stored in their homes and outside of the banks.

Information Minister Lenn Eugene Nagbe referenced to the widespread belief while addressing a MICAT press briefing recently, stating that the new money, when printed, will cause those who are keeping the money out of the bank at their private homes to lose.

Harmonization/Budget/ War Crimes Court

Rep. Enders welcomes the reduction of the wage bill to promote equity, but the terminology used in the process is wrong.

Instead of harmonization, he said the government should be bold to state that they are cutting salary to fit the huge number of employees the current administration brought on board.

He said the term “equal pay” is unrealistic as it is nowhere practice in the world. According to him, it was disheartening for the government to be unable to pay its workers regularly just within less than two years; contrary to what ex-president Ellen Johnson Sirleaf did for twelve years.

Enders Vowed to not sign in favor of the passage of FY 2019/2020 budget into the law. According to him, there was huge disparity and unfair appropriations, while frowning on the Ministry of Finance for cutting the University of Liberia’s budget by US$300,000 and increasing the Monrovia City Corporation’s budget by US$800,000.

In addition, he revealed that the government cut all of the subsidies for major private hospitals. 

The decision to cut major line ministries and entities including education and health budget, he noted was unfair and anti pro poor.

“If you are going to cut education, health, ELWA Hospital gets no subsidy; St. Joseph Catholic Hospital gets no subsidy at all. And you cannot take all the subsidies from them and give it to the MCC who collects money on their own and from other people,” he said.

“I think that’s unfair and that the budget should not be passed. If you are going to cut education, cut healthcare, that means our people have no hope, meaning the Pro-poor is not being Pro-poor… that is why I cannot sign that budget.”

Meanwhile, he said the establishment of a war and economic crimes court, he disclosed that he has already signed the resolution calling for the court and called on others who have not signed to do same.

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