By: Anthony Q. Jiffan, Jr.
The Political leader of the Movement for Progressive Change (MPC), Mr. Simeon Freeman, says the consistent lockdown of Liberia’s economy is not the way forward to curbing the coronavirus in the country. Instead, the MPC boss indicates that a systematic plan through the national and private health systems to effect a nationwide testing of the population will go a long way in the fight against COVID-19.
The lockdown of the country, Freeman said, may have been the government’s initial response; but indicated further that it should not be a permanent decision to contain the virus.
He spoke in Monrovia Monday, June 29, 2020, at the Edward Wilmot Blyden Intellectual Forum of the Press Union of Liberia (PUL).
The Press Union of Liberia has resumed its intellectual platform, the Edward Wilmot Blyden’s Forum, which highlighted a cross sectional discussion on approaches being deployed in the fight against the deadly Coronavirus Pandemic.
The Monday’s Forum was held under the theme: Best Approaches in the Fight against the COVID-19, looking at social, political, and economic implications of the COVID-19 Outbreak.
The resumption of the Forum is intended to offer experts views and to analyze current situation and governance action in the country in the face of the COVID-19 Pandemic. The Forum featured a Liberian Epidemiologist, Vasco Garwo who give the regular health and hygiene perspectives of the curbing the virus.
The platform also featured Deputy Finance and Development Planning Minister for Fiscal Affairs, Samora Z. Wolokollie, Accountability Lab’s Country Director Lawrence Yealue, and a politician and economist Simeon Freeman of the MPC.
Addressing the forum, Mr. Freeman insists that the State of Emergency has not helped Liberia in the fight against the COVID-19. Instead, he counseled that government must empower every health facility in the country to enable them collect individual sample for onward submission to the Health Ministry for testing, if the virus must be contained.
The MPC’s political leader explained his idea on the way forward he suggested to government on the COVID-19 fight, saying he wants the government to fight the spread of virus through a sequential lockdown method whereby it will carry out testing per district.
He further recommended that government should empower every health facility (Private and Public) in the country to enable them collect specimen of people who go for treatment and forward it to the National Public Health Institute of Liberia through a specified medium.
For his part, PUL President Charles Coffey said the PUL will resist every form of violence in the country. Coffey said the PUL believes in peaceful protest, and strongly warns against any act that has the tendency to undermine peace and stability in Liberia.
He said the forum was intended to augment national effects in the fight against the Deadly Coronavirus in the country, noting that the forum will help the country in containing coronavirus.
Meanwhile, Deputy Finance and Development Planning Minister for Fiscal Affairs Samora Wolokollie have economically assumed that Liberia will have 2. 5% as economic growth rate at the end of 2020 due to the coronavirus in the country.
Deputy Minister Wolokollie said Liberia currently has -4.9% as the country’s economic growth rate.
According to him, before the outbreak of the Coronavirus in Liberia, the country’s domestic revenue collection was around four hundred and forty four million, but clarified that sixty one million was used on external resource.
Wolokollie further said while the government was strategizing to improve the country’s economy, the outbreak of the pandemic has caused damage to the economy.
He noted that the government of President George Manneh Weah is making frantic efforts to ensure that the country gets on the right trajectory in terms of economy growth.
At the same time, the Country Director of the Accountability Lab, Lawrence Yealue, called on the government to be transparent in the discharge of its responsibilities in the fight against COVID-19.
Mr. Yealue wants the Government of Liberia make public funds received from donors, and allocations committed from the country’s resources to the fight against virus.
He averred that such move by the government, couple with adherence to anti- COVID-19 regulations and messages, citizens will trust and listen to their leaders; and Coronavirus will be contained.
It can be recalled that the President, Dr. George Weah, on Monday, June 21, 2020 announced a renewed State of Emergency as part of efforts to contain the COVID-19 pandemic. The Liberian Government also made the wearing of face masks compulsory in public spaces after record increased in the number of recent confirmed COVID-19 cases.
The Weah Administration backpedaling on reopening churches and schools runs contrary to common efforts in the West African Region despite rising number of cases to make way for return of economic activities. A lot of the country’s populations are valuably employed with many working as daily hires.
Liberia has recorded 684 cases of COVID-19, including 34 deaths since the registering of its first case in mid-March. A state of emergency was declared on April 8 that included the quarantining of 4 counties and a requirement to stay indoors after 9pm has now been reversed to 6pm.
Controversies have also marred the rolling out of a government emergence food distribution for what the Weah Administration has touted as a stimulus package for the vulnerable or underprivileged.
Announcing the resumption of the Edward Blyden Intellectual Forum, the PUL said it is hopeful that the Forum will help shape the containment debate, wherein panelists will provide diverse perspectives during a time where educated views are needed.
The Edward Blyden Forum is a regular intellectual discourse held under the auspices of the Intellectual Discourse Committee/Press Club of the PUL to bring together stakeholders including politicians, civil society actors and the media to discuss burning national issues towards finding a better and collective solution.
The maiden session for its resumption was held at the Auditorium of the YMCA, on Crown Hill, Broad Street and it started at 12:45pm.