Next Fiscal Budget to Prioritize ‘The People’ -Pres. Weah Ready to Take Development to Rural Liberia
The centralized governance system of Liberia has entrenched a sort of political psyche amongst politicians and policymakers that makes the capital city, Monrovia, the biggest beneficiary of all other provinces under the Republic. And for a long time now, theories about decentralization have emerged, with volumes written and PowerPoint lectures nearly exhausted. With all that, there is one key element lacking—seeing, experiencing and incurring the bruises of conditions in other parts of the country in real life by the crafters. And because that is lacking, the right attitude, the mental state and energy needed to back up and express the theories into reality are lacking, making all the decentralization talks mere platitudes. It seems President Weah’s tours of the countryside brings him “vis-à-vis”, as folks would put it, with the harsh and hard realities for decentralization in all its ramifications. No doubt, what he has seen, heard, and experienced in person implants a fresh psyche in him that is haunting his perspectives of decentralization. The evidence is found in his recent declarations regarding the fiscal instrument called National Budget, which the President now calls will henceforth make rural development a top priority. The Analyst reports.
In what appears to be his resolve to tackle the serious development deficit in the country, President George Manneh Weah is about to take new steps in the country’s development paradigm that will work for the people by delivering the goods and services for which he was elected to lead the nation.
It can’t be a surprise for a president that clearly demonstrates he’s a hearing and caring President experiencing firsthand the harsh conditions in the hinterland as he toured villages and towns, not in haste but in careful review and discussion with the people; sleeping in odd conditions and holding town hall meetings.
What has evolved out all this practical experience of the president with his people and their conditions is a new mantra, “Budget of the People and for the People”, meaning that in drafting the fiscal national budget of the country going forward, the office of the President will incorporate the felt needs of rural people who constitute 70 percent of the national population for legislative ratification.
As a flash of inspiration, the declaration came out of the President in multiple town hall meetings in Sinoe County where he is currently visiting nearly every hamlet and every village to see for himself how the people are faring and to thank them for electing him president.
The new ‘development mantra’ is coming against not only from the backdrop of the series of complaints he has received about the deplorable conditions the people are living in the rural parts, but also the fact that he is incurring mental bruises of those conditions as he drives through, at times walks through, experiencing them in real life time in all 13 counties already visited.
“Everywhere we went, the problems were almost the same: bad roads, no schools, no hospitals, very poor infrastructural development, amongst others. Our people are not happy and so we have to change the ways things have been handled in the country for some time now,” the President said during a town hall meeting in Bilibokree, Juarzon District, Sinoe County.
“Our people have been complaining that there is no money to implement the projects from the government and so we will have to find another way around it. So the next fiscal budget will be called the ‘Budget of the People’. We will make sure to use the money for the people”
In apparent anticipation of possible opposition he will receive from critics, the President was quick to state what he would do to diffuse anything that may work against his plan.
He said: “I know there will be some noise from some people, but I will be ready to stand to fight off the noise so that our people will benefit from what they voted for this government.”
Some keen commentators in the body polity told our correspondents that the assertion of the President may go a long way to address most of the bottlenecks obstructing the rapid development of the country.
They are in unison with the direction of the President especially so against the public utterances of Mr. Weah that citizens should work with and petition their respective lawmakers to allocate money in the national budget that will be used to execute the projects or for the development of their respective areas.
Mr. Weah said he takes cognizant of the fact that in all the places visited so far, the people took off their time to genuinely present their predicament to him and he must also reciprocate the same by genuinely suggesting ways to solve the problems.
“Again I will say to you. Most of the problems you have presented to me cannot be solved by me alone. It can be done along with your lawmakers,” the President noted.
“Remember, it is your lawmakers that allocate and approve the money in the budget for us to do what you want us to do for you. So talk to them, let them do it for you and for the country so that we get things done properly. That is why I said the next budget will be able to work for you,” Mr. Weah said.
The President who did not mince words to publicly speak about the disunity existing among the members of the Sinoe county legislative caucus said that if nothing is done in the direction of resolving their differences, the county and its people could suffer from it.
Mr. Weah said he is aware of the rivalry that has been existing between the Kru ethnic group and their Sarpo counterparts in the county to the extent that on a particular day, the lawmakers nearly threw physical blows at each other.
Earlier during a well-attended town hall meeting in Bilibokri, the lawmaker representing District #3, Mr. Matthew J. Zarzar in a prepared speech, touched on three main issues: the condition at the Sarpo National Park, the Rivercess-Sinoe land dispute and the general issues surrounding the environment.
The lawmaker also asked the President to give job opportunities to people from the Sarpo ethnic group just as he thanked him for what he has done for prominent sons and daughters from the Sarpo group, among which was the late Public Works Minister, Mobutu Vlah Nyepan , Sam wlue, Minister of Transportation etc.
Meanwhile President Weah visited the Golden Veroleum Ltd, a major concessionaire in the county and called on its management to do more in fulfilling the corporate social responsibility to the people. He cited electricity and good roads as key areas of concern to the people.
The President made specific mention to the pavement of the stretch of road leading to the company’s operations zone. At the same time, the Liberian Chief Executive craved the company for the extension of its thermal electricity supply to the communities.
According to him, this will aid the Government in its drive to provide electricity which is an integral component towards national development.