Liberians Remain Spectators, as Foreigners Own Economic Stadium -Businesses Slam Govt.

During his inauguration in 2018, President George Manneh Weah pledged to the Liberian people that he will take steps to make sure that Liberians never become spectators in their own economy.

“We cannot remain spectators in our own economy. My government will prioritize the interests of Liberian-owned businesses and offer programs to help them become more competitive and offer services that international investors seek as partners,” President Weah had said at the time, to thunderous applause from the multitude of Liberians who had thronged the SKD Complex to witness the nation’s first open air inauguration.

Weah’s commitment was hinged on the Liberianization policy that grants exclusive rights to Liberians to operate certain categories of businesses. Unfortunately, the whole exercise has been compromised as foreigners can be seen into businesses as low as selling charcoal which ordinarily should be totally reserved for Liberians

But what was seen then to be a beacon of hope has now turned out to be a bleak promise, as the Weah government failing to address the challenges that Liberian businesses go through, has reportedly passed on to the foreigners and aliens the entitlements that should have been for the citizens.

Reality sank in too early in the days of the administration when the very government that vowed not to allow Liberians to be spectators in their own economy started dishing out mouthwatering contracts to some Lebanese and Indians.

The Analyst’s own investigation confirms that two Lebanese Nationals,  Messrs Shawki Fawaz and Mohammed Bittar, were given most of the construction works for roads and housing units throughout the country.

“The President made the promise but we are not even seeing the stadium, so how will we know if we will be spectators or not. The foreigners own the stadium and they have blocked all the spectators. It is unfortunate that the President will treat the Liberian people that way, said Mr. Mark Johnson, a local businessman said.

In recent times, the Liberia Business Association has taken up the case for Liberians to be placed at the epicenter of the economy and has called on the government to take deliberate steps in attaining that. The Chief Executive of the Liberia Business Association, Mr James Strother, has lamented the low level of participation of Liberian businesses in the economy and called on the government to work through LIBA to build the capacity of Liberian owned businesses to enable them compete in the local market place.

“It is for this reason, we feel strongly that having been established by law through the Act of Legislature to work in cooperation with the Government of Liberia and not to work against the government, we now act as a catalyst for the development of the domestic private sector, which creates the highest employment in the economy,” he said.

Mr. Madison Early, a businessman in the maritime subsector of the economy, blamed the poor enforcement mechanism on the part of the government, which he attributed to corruption as one of the main reasons why Liberian-owned businesses cannot compete with the foreigners and aliens in the country.

“There is an Investment code of 2010 that sets aside 12 businesses that are exclusively for Liberians to operate but you find foreigners all over those businesses and there is no single action from the government to put this to stop. This is terrible, so how do you expect us to take ownership of our own economy”, Mr. Early lamented.

Mr. Momo Samuels, a Liberian businessman who recently returned home from Ghana where he has been residing since 2000, said the government of Ghana does not take the issue of business ownership in Ghana easy, including enforcing laws to stop non-Ghanaians from venturing into any business set aside for their citizens.

“The government does not joke with enforcing laws to stop any foreigner from going into businesses meant for Ghanaians. If you try it, you will be dealt with. But here, no one has time even if a Lebanese is selling charcoal,” he said.

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