The Rainbow Alliance (RA), a left wing conglomeration of opposition political parties, has responded to president Weah’s annual message delivered to the Joint Session National Legislature last Monday, 25th January. The political Alliance sees the Message of the President as a recitation of previous annual messages plastered with restatements of promises that have not been kept, and brought forward for new achievements that are hard to defend. Counting on several economic and social discrepancies they the observes, the Alliance says the current market environment is rather a model that distributes handouts to the poor, rather than employing real time sustainable policy structure to fight poverty in a system in which petty traders, low and medium Liberian businesses are struggling to survive on very slim profit margins; The Analyst reports.
The Rainbow Alliance’s reaction periscoped the government’s stance on the economy including Taxation and its attending burden, Agriculture and Education. The, RA’s reaction also captured domestic affairs, and discusses the impact the opposition made on referendum and the midterm 2020 senatorial election, calls for an overhaul the 1986 constitution, criticized the poor political outreach, the mortality in government, state of the executive mansion and foreign relations amongst others.
“We want to note that while the President’s projections for reconstruction and development are useful intervention, the mere naming of projects without strategy and policy do not add up to a message that should translate into sustainable growth and development for the Liberian people. Contrary to the President’s statement that the country’s development agenda is on the right path, international integrity institutions paint a different picture,” the Alliance said.
The Rainbow Alliance noted that while the President’s projections for reconstruction and development are useful intervention, the mere naming of projects without strategy and policy do not add up to a message that should translate into sustainable growth and development for the Liberian people.
To the contrary, the Alliance further sees the President’s statement to the effect that the country’s development agenda is on the right path to be wrong, in that international integrity institutions paint a different picture, stating for the example that the World Bank Economic Freedom Report has ranked Liberia poorly 165 out of 186 countries surveyed.
The Rainbow Alliance also pointed out how the US State Department also quotes the World Bank Report on Doing Business in Liberia with a very poor rating at 184 out of 190 in doing business across borders, 184 out of 190 in dealing with construction permits, and 180 out of 190 in registering properties. “In its 2019 Transparency International Corruption Perceptions Index, Liberia was ranked 137 out of 180, down from 120 in 2018,” the Alliance averred.
Questioning where is the stability in the Liberian economy, the Alliance says, “The truth of the matter” is that the Liberian economy is in a less than favorable condition, characterized by unemployment at a high record peak of 74.2% particularly among the youthful population, while businesses are crumbling with no positive action or policy to create hope for small and medium businesses.
The Rainbow Alliance also spoke of “…very high taxes and official red tape on the importation of goods threaten trade and commerce; and deepen inequalities,” saying that although data on human security are unavailable, the evidence is yet glaring that personal, social and economic security has diminished dramatically.
“There is an exponential growth and expansion of armed gangs everywhere. Incidents of rape and abuse of rights with impunity is commonplace. Seven out of every ten Liberians employed in a public office is threatened with dismissal or reduction of their wages if they are deemed to have no partisanship loyalty to the ruling party,” the Rainbow added.
In the face of these dismal performances the Alliance stressed that with the IMF projecting a 3.2% growth rate in 2021, it is important, however, to note that it was the very government that provided the data used for the projection.
“What is baffling to the Rainbow Alliance is President Weah’s inability to lay out a strategy, policy and sources that should be used to raise Real GDP from -3.0% to 3.2% growth rate which in effect will require at least a 6.2 percent growth rate.
The group spoke on agriculture and education also. Among other things the Rainbow Alliance say up to date, Liberia remains a net importer of the very basic agricultural commodities although the country boasts of the abundance of fertile lands that provides the potential of being an international bread basket.
For education, the Rainbow Alliance indicated that the President’s recent Annual Message as in the previous ones, pointed out that there is a strong relationship between education and poverty, and added that in reference to the 2018 Annual Message the President stated that over US$171.3 Million and 37.5 million Euros, respectively, was secured from development partners to support primary, secondary, tertiary and vocational education.
However, the group said too many of our young people have overgrown the age of secondary school, and no longer have interest in school but have found economic promise as motor bike riders and engaged on a risky endeavor which is robbing them of the zeal of pursuing structured education, while many others of the young Liberian men and women have become drug addicts and those on the extreme have been labeled as ‘Zogos’.
Domestically, Rainbow spoke on the impact it made along with the rest of the opposition bloc on the country during the midterm senatorial election and in defeating the referendum; the left wing opposition group calls for the overhaul the 1986 Constitution which the group believes is inherently inadequate to serve the purposes of law and order, good governance, internal policy and economic viability.
The Alliance notes with disappointment that the President’s Annual Message was silent on visitation to various parts of the country but regrettably added that in three years, the President has not touched base with his people to know firsthand their challenges and to inspect development initiatives.
Sadly, the Alliance noted that the CDC government remains primarily a Monrovia-based political aristocracy and therefore making the government’s repeated proposals about road construction to the Southeast, Southwest and Northwest of the country remain mere sounding cymbals in a brass band.
The statement addressed the mortality rate in government that the Rainbow said have characterized mysterious deaths of government employees and disappearances of common citizens in recent times. The Alliance further said the grieving families deserve to have reprieve of their grief over the loss of their loved ones. “Far too many of our young, brilliant citizens are dying pre-maturely simply because they decide to work for their government”, the Rainbow Alliance added in their statement; and said, “Service to our government must not be a death sentence to snuff out the life of our young and intelligent citizens.” This government must put measures in place to stop the mysterious deaths of the citizens of the country.
State of the group added.
On the renovation of the Liberian state house, the Executive Mansion, The Rainbow said President Weah in his 2020 Annual Message, he made a bold commitment to have the Executive Mansion fully renovated by his next Annual Message in 2021. Unfortunately, we take note of the fact that the edifice has deteriorated much worse than it was in January 2020 in spite of annual budgetary allotments for the renovation of the Executive Mansion while the renovation remains dormant without accountability regarding what happens to the money that is budgeted every year for the renovation of the national Presidential home.
Regarding foreign relations, the Rainbow Alliance takes note of the fact that the President’s Annual Message did not adequately address the issue of foreign relations of the country vis-à-vis its suspension from the African Union.
Liberia’s international image, the Alliance said, is badly dented by its suspension from this important forum, African Union, which started in Liberia as the OAU, adding that the Liberian people deserve to know what our government is doing to have Liberia’s membership restored to the African Union.
Apart from boasting that Liberia has a large number of embassies in foreign capitals, the Rainbow Alliance observed that the embassies are not rather effectively functioning, as diplomats are not getting pay on time, and that the nation is therefore not benefiting from the operations of these embassies.
The group then said that they are not merely criticizing the annual message, but that they are reminding the government and the Liberian people of the possibilities for development when good governance is practiced and when the correct strategies and policies are put in place to motivate the population.
“What we expect from this government is innovative thinking, strategic reasoning and planning in ways and manner that connect different range of actions to each other. We must not take the aspirations of the Liberian people for granted. No government in its third year in office should still be in an experimental mode for the governance of the country,” the Alliance said
They added that competence on the part of the government structure should have assured the Liberian people that the future of this country is assured with new approach to governance, rather than a recitation of disjointed facts plastered with falsehoods and restatement of failed promises.