Liberty Party Releases Statement on the Prevailing Gasoline Crisis in the Country- Proposes interim measures; Wants pragmatic actions from Government

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Press Statement

On the prevailing Gasoline Crisis in the Country

Issued by Liberty Party

February 13, 2020

Ladies and gentlemen of the Fourth Estate:

Thank you for your prompt response to our invitation. 

Once again, Liberia finds itself in a deepening national crisis, this time, triggered by the disruptive intervention of the government in the petroleum market, on one hand, and the government’s lack of proactiveness, on the other. The nation is accordingly plagued by an unprecedented petroleum situation that is affecting every facet of our national life.  The business community is experiencing under-performance, hospitals and schools are paralyzed in their activities, and so are the already impoverished citizens who now find themselves left to the mercy of transport operators.

The government is consumed, as usual, in self-contradiction. In its first public statement, the Minister of Commerce, Mr. Wilson Tarpeh, assured that there was adequate supply of petroleum in the country and that there was no need for panic. As the crisis deepens, the same government has issued a statement through the Information Ministry, acknowledging the shortage, and promising amelioration of the situation by emergency efforts to bring in some quantity. In some cases,   agents of the government have tended to put the nation under the impression that the shortage of petroleum in the country is clearly a result of prevailing trends on the global market.

All too well, Liberty Party is not a stranger to the dubious dealings of the Weah Administration, as not to know the proximate cause (s) of the current situation. This government thrives on deceits and cover-ups and this is well documented. We therefore make no pretense of what we know to be the truth about the current problem:

  1. The government’s granting of dealership rights to cronies who have no clear records of experience and integrity in the petroleum industry, coupled with its subsequent borrowing of huge quantity of petroleum from the reserves of major importers and delivering same to those shadow petroleum dealers. We have information from multiple sources confirming that those shadow petroleum dealers have allegedly reneged on surrendering proceeds from the sale of the borrowed petroleum to the major importers, thus limiting their capacity to bring more petroleum into the country.
  2. The misapplication of money intended for the dredging of the Freeport of Monrovia to enable the berthing of larger vessels into the Port, which is a normal management function.

Considered within the context of good governance, Liberty Party sees these actions and their attendant impacts on the wellbeing of citizens and residents, as calculated and deliberate impositions by this government to increase the sufferings of the people and by extension, compromise the security of the state.

Liberty Party recalls that from the very inception of the Weah Administration, it has exhibited a consistent pattern of cronyism, shady business deeds and high level of incompetence, much of which have today caught the government and its functionaries unprepared for this chronic petroleum problem that has brought the country to near paralysis.

In our candid view, therefore, the current gasoline shortage in the country is self-inflicted, as it is a by-product of wheeling and dealings from within, whereby people in places of power chose to unprofessionally intervene in the petroleum business, thus incapacitating major petroleum dealers as not to meet their obligations to the public.

As the nation and its people face this monster created by President Weah and his lieutenants, we caution the President and his agents to refrain from making ambitious commitments, many of which may be unrealizable and even unsustainable in the foreseeable future.  In a situation of rising expectation from the people that is unsupported by a corresponding delivery on the part of the government of the day, the least that can be expected is tension. And, tension breeds chaos.

For once, the George Weah-led Government must move beyond raising national morale by making go-getting pronouncements of how it is proceeding to address this national problem.  This is time to be practical and honest.

Liberty Party therefore proposes the following interim measures as it looks forward to more pragmatic actions from the government:

  1. In consideration of the acute shortage of gasoline with its corresponding impacts on transportation service in the various communities, government should place at the disposal of communities government-owned vehicles to help patients and women in labor pains;
  2. Government should cut down its consumption of fuel and gas and instead prioritize emergency supplies to hospitals and clinics as a stop-gap measure;
  3. In these difficult times, civil servants and employees in the private sector bear the brunt of the prevailing situation. It is therefore our recommendation, especially at it relates to civil servants, that government institutions reduce the number of days employees are required to report to work. Alternatively, work schedule should be revised to allow flexibility for employees.
  4. We make a passionate appeal to all vehicle owners, public and private, to show special favor to our students during the morning and afternoon hours by providing lift to those students. And,
  5. As an exercise in good governance, the Weah-led Government should move quickly with its declared probe into the gasoline crisis, using independent individuals and institutions, to establish what may have occasioned this unprecedented shortage that is bringing the nation to near paralysis. Findings of such investigation must be made public and culprits made to account accordingly.

Liberty Party seizes this moment to call for calm from the public. We know that you deserve better than what you are receiving, especially after investing so much of your time and energies over the years to ensure that our democracy survives for the good of all. We shall overcome this nightmare and many more and be welcomed to a new dawn where your wellbeing will take precedence over individual considerations.

TOGETHER, WE CAN DO BETTER.

THANK YOU.

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