“Big Mistake” – Rainbow Alliance Calls Out Fuel Price Hike -Cites Plethora of Governance Mishaps in 1st Quarter Review

The National Executive Committee of the opposition Rainbow Alliance (RA) has frowned on the sudden 40 percent hike in the price of gasoline and fuel on the Liberian market, terming the move as a big mistake by the government that has multiplied the suffering of the Liberian people. “Barely a few days after the government assured the Liberian people that it had enough fuel and gasoline supply to cover three months, it somersaulted and imposed the severe price hikes which came as a shock to the Liberian people,” the RA said in its First Quarter Review of Governance in Liberia issued March 22, 2022.

“This insensitive imposition on the Liberian people has been met with silence from the President of Liberia, Mr. George Manneh Weah, who has not exercised the minimum decency to address the Liberian nation to explain why his government took such a drastic decision. It should be clear to the president and his advisers that the high price of gasoline and fuel has a corresponding rise in the price of everything including, transportation, food, running of generators in private homes, hospital care, and the ability of students to attend school on a regular basis,” the RA Report stated.

It is unfortunate, the Rainbow Alliance said, that the government is using the geopolitical uncertainty of the Ukraine crisis as an opportunity to exploit the Liberian people at a time when getting a decent meal on the table has become very difficult due largely to leadership letdown and the mismanagement of the economy.

“It is understood that the government earns a huge amount of US$1.75 on each gallon of gasoline and fuel that is sold at the retail level, in addition to other surcharges said to be set aside to contribute to the road fund. We call on the government to give account of the bonanza that it is earning from the huge price hike, assure the Liberian people of how long this price hike will be enforced and announce interventions that could reduce the burden on the Liberian people.

“The Rainbow Alliance therefore demands that the government of Liberia reduce its surcharge of US$1.75 on each gallon of gasoline and fuel by half and pass on the savings to the Liberian people. This is what a responsible government should do in a time of crisis to protect the livelihood of its people,” the RA cautioned.

In addition to the huge price hikes on gasoline and fuel, the government has failed to address the lack of electricity for long periods of time leading to the loss of productivity, the increase in the crime rate, and the spoilage of food in homes and businesses for those who cannot afford private generators.

Other Governance Mishaps

Listing a plethora of other governance mishaps in its 1st Quarterly Governance Review, the Rainbow Alliance specifically called to order the government’s energy policy which the RA described as seeming to be in disarray.

Among the reasons that it called the government’s energy policy erratic, the RA said Government officials who are the largest users of the Liberia Electricity Corporation (LEC) services do not pay their bills and therefore put a strain on the LEC to supply adequate fuel for its generators in the dry season.

Also, the RA said the government has failed to address the large-scale power theft issue thereby causing disruptions in the LEC power grid; and worse of all, the government continues to renege on paying its indebtedness to the West Africa Power Pool, WAPP, thereby denying the Liberian people of the much needed steady supply of affordable electricity.

Regarding the Government of Liberia’s alleged mismanagement of the economy, the Rainbow Alliance noted that on Wednesday, March 15, 2022, the President Pro Tempore of the Liberian Senate, Albert Chie lamented that several sectors of the Liberian economy were failing and demanded solutions. He named those sectors as Agriculture, Engineering and Medical, among others. The President Pro Temp further asserted that it was the responsibility of the younger generation who are the future leaders to find solutions to these failures.

“The Rainbow Alliance finds the statement of Senator Albert Chie, a key player in the failed CDC government, as funny and petty. In the first instance, the Senator should recognize what every Liberian knows: it is not a few sectors of the Liberian economy that are failing, every sector of the Liberian economy has failed due largely to leadership letdown and the mismanagement of the State.

“His assertion that it is the younger generation that should find solutions to the failures of his government is shameful. He should know that it is his government that is not adequately preparing the younger generation for leadership by denying them good education, sustainable job opportunities, good health care and food security. It is his government that has become elitist, amassing huge wealth through corruption thereby denying the younger generation a chance to prepare for the future. At the same time, the government has ‘harmonized’ the salary of poor civil servants thereby reducing their monthly income by more than 50 percent.

“Senator Chie should take blame for presiding over and approving the passage of a Fake National Budget submitted by his government in the amount of US$785 million which even a child in elementary school knows is not attainable.

“President Pro Tempore Albert Chie and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Bhofal Chambers, have yet to respond to a letter from the National Executive Committee of the Rainbow Alliance calling for clarification on whether the millions of US Dollars that President George Manneh Weah spent to purchase dozens of pickup trucks, motorcycles and ambulances were a result of budgetary allotment or his personal money as he claimed.

“Senator Chie should finally ascertain the veracity of allegations that his government is extorting advance payments of taxes and commissions from large corporations and foreign concessions, thereby endangering the future of the younger generations who will not be able to benefit from such taxes and commissions for years to come. He should also explain to the Liberian people how much of their natural resources and mineral wealth is being squandered by illicit foreign agents and their conspirators in the Liberian government.

“If, as Senator Chie asserts that the Engineering sector of Liberia is failing, then his government should take blame because all major engineering and construction works are awarded either to foreign entities or companies created and owned by government officials, while independent Liberian engineers and contractors are languishing in poverty.

“Similarly, if agriculture and the health sectors are failing, then the failure should be blamed solely on the government of Liberia. The agriculture and health sectors are the most heavily supported sectors by international donor funding, foreign financial support and expert services. The failure of these sectors derives from managerial incompetence, official red tape and corruption in every sector of the government at the highest level,” the Rainbow Alliance Governance Review charged.

Support for US Ambassador McCarthy’s Statement

Aligning itself with the harsh criticism that the US Ambassador recently meted out to the Liberian government on the occasion of the birth anniversary of Liberia’s first president Joseph Jenkins Robert, the Rainbow Alliance’s National Executive Committee congratulated the U.S. Ambassador to Liberia, Michael A. McCarthy, on an OP-ED statement issued on March 14, 2022 entitled: What Would J.J. Roberts Have to Say about Liberia Today?

“The Ambassador correctly flagged a number of nagging issues that are crippling the development of Liberia under the CDC government including corruption, failure to dispose of garbage in and around the city of Monrovia, and the lack of legislative transparency.

“It is unfortunate that surrogates of the Liberian government have attempted to counter or belittle the well-meaning observations of Ambassador McCarthy, the Rainbow Alliance fully supports the ambassador’s stance and is appreciative of all the assistance that the government and people of the United States of America continue to offer the people of Liberia through USAID and numerous other agencies and NGOs.

“Aside from the well-known corruption and other ineptitudes of the Liberian government, the Rainbow Alliance feels particularly ashamed that Monrovia, the oldest capital city in Africa, is labeled the dirtiest and darkest capital city in Africa, especially on the occasion of the 200th anniversary of the founding of the country. The government should be equally ashamed to attack Ambassador McCarthy and other foreign partners for speaking to the truth of this matter.

“Moreover, the Rainbow Alliance condemns in no uncertain terms the government’s non-inclusion of members of the opposition community and a wider sector of the Liberian public in the celebration of the bicentennial celebrations.

“The most dramatic aspect of Ambassador McCarthy’s statement which the Rainbow Alliance applauds and wholeheartedly welcomes is the disclosure that: ‘The U.S. House of Representatives introduced Resolution 907 on February 4 of this year, which encourages Liberia to redouble its efforts to counter corruption and advance the causes of human rights. It also urges Liberia to implement critical economic reforms necessary to accelerate sustainable economic growth and human capital development’.

“Finally, it calls on the U.S. Treasury and State Departments to continue to impose targeted sanctions against those responsible for undermining the rule of law and trust of the Liberian people through corruption, gross violations of human rights, and other acts that threaten the peace and security of Liberia. The Rainbow Alliance supports these actions of the US Congress to impose the targeted sanctions without delay.

The splintered Opposition Community

The National Executive Committee of the Rainbow Alliance also said it is disappointed and at the same time appalled at the collapse of the once promising Collaborating Political Parties, CPP, on the one hand, and the Liberty Party on the other hand.

“This dramatic collapse has a tendency to erode the credibility of the opposition community and affect the confidence of the electorate in the opposition barely 20 months before the general and presidential elections.

“The Rainbow Alliance is equally sad over the prolonged conflict of claims and counter-claims over the CPP’s Framework Document, which has led to meaningless legal proceedings, and the public antagonisms of leading politicians.

“The Rainbow Alliance recalls its collaboration with the CPP during the 2020 Referendum and Senatorial by-elections which led to a resounding success for the opposition community. It was the expectation that such collaboration in the future would have led to greater cooperation for victory at the polls in 2023. Unfortunately, those hopes have been dashed due to the implosion of a major sector of the opposition community.

“Drawing on historical reflection, it is unprecedented in the view of the Rainbow, that individuals within the same opposition camp would not only be dissolving their collaboration, but attempting to publically tarnish the character and credibility of each other. If this continues, it can only play into the hands of the ruling establishment which will not hesitate to use resources at its disposal to prolong these internal conflicts to its advantage with the limited time remaining for the 2023 elections.

“It is the considered view of the Rainbow Alliance that all is not yet lost. We are aware that in a fluid political setting, disruptions do occur in coalitions, and our Alliance is not immune to such possibility.

“We therefore call on the leaders of the opposition community to think clearly about the future of our nation and soberly reflect on the great potential of working together. We propose the organizing and convening of a One-Day Inter-Party Dialogue to sort out our differences and forge a united front in order to have a desired impact on the 2023 general and presidential elections,” the 1st Quarterly Governance Review, signed by RA Interim National Chairman Reginald B. Goodridge, Sr., stated.

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