MONROVIA: The ascendency of global soccer icon George Manneh Weah in January 2018 as Liberia’s 24th President not only marked the first peaceful and democratic transition of power in Africa’s oldest republic in 73 years, but was the first generational change in national leadership through popular vote since the introduction of universal suffrage in 1951 and the launch of the National Unification and Integration Policy in 1960.
Faced with the onerous task of nation-building which required building on the gains of his predecessor and correcting the wrongs of the past, the Weah administration immediately sought to craft a new nation based on the principles of inclusion, on equity in the distribution of revenues generated from Liberia’s natural resources, and on a rights-based approach to national development, as enshrined in his new government’s five-year planned Pro-Poor Agenda for Progress and Development (PAPD) four-pillared objectives that encapsulates empowering Liberians; improving the economy and providing jobs; sustaining the peace; and ensuring good governance and transparency through an inclusive and accountable public sector for shared prosperity and sustainable development.
Five years down the line, as President George Manneh Weah starts his nationwide tour to convince voters as to why it is imperative they must provide him a second term on October 10 to accomplish all the good things that are embedded in his PAPD so as improve the people’s lives and leave a lasting legacy, it is now becoming abundantly clear that President Weah has actually done a lot in terms of fulfilling the deliverables of the PAPD, as this special Analyst investigative report has discovered.
According to what this paper has gathered from sourced documents and investigative analyses over months of grueling fact-checking, President Weah and his CDC government have been assiduously working to met the benchmarks of their development PAPD deliverables, which final outcome will be consummated at the end of his second term.
Pillar One – Power to the People
In line with the four-pillared deliverables, it was established that under Pillar One, which has to do with giving Power to the People, the Weah-led government has empowered Liberians with the tools to gain control of their lives through more equitable provision of opportunities in education, health, youth development, and social protection. In this regard, it is observed that Pillar One has realized significant gains in the health, education, youth development, gender and social development sectors.
Meeting the Health Milestone
Within the Health Sector, gains captured showed the completion of the 14 Military Hospital in Margibi County, as well eight other hospitals that are currently under construction in the South East.
Other gains within the health sector include the construction of a 100-bed Emirate Hospital in Gbarpolu and a newly constructed hospital in Rivercess County, while the New Redemption Hospital is currently under construction.
Other gains include increments in doctors’ monthly pay from US$700 dollars to US$2000; the addition of 2,500 health workers on Government’s payroll even after donor health fund had dried up; the training of 19 additional doctors in specialist vocations; regularizing and increasing the salary of 500 supplementary health workers; vaccination of 71 percent of the population against COVID-19, amongst others.
Within the education sector, it has been established that the Government of Liberia has provided free public education that has benefited more than 10,000 Liberians every year. The Government of Liberia has also provided free WASSCE that currently benefits 40,000 students yearly. The PAPD gains also showed that the Government of Liberia has built 28 high schools and 18 early childhood schools around the country, while providing 3,500 supplementary teachers permanent status.
Moreover, the Government has also increased the pay of 3,500 supplementary from LRD 8,000 USD125, while adding 1,300 teachers and guidance counselors to the Government of Liberia payroll.
Youth Development, Gender and Social Protection
When it comes to enhancing youth development and fostering gender and social protection, the records point to the renovation of the Samuel Kanyon Doe Sports Complex which met FIFA standards for under US$3 million dollars as a key milestone achievement.
But it should also be recognized that the Weah-led government has heavily invested in Technical Vocational Educational Training programs in six counties and is now expanding to all 15 counties. The government of Liberia is also investing at least US$1 million to transform at-risk-youths, commonly called “zogoes”.
Meanwhile, the government has been heavily investing in Sexual and Gender Based Violence (SBGV) roadmap and establishing a taskforce and call center, which has led to improved reporting on rape cases that is often mistaken for an increase in the actual rape case number.
Also, the Government of Liberia has been building trust among traditional leaders to reduce and or eliminate female genital mutilation.
Pillar Two – Macroeconomy and Jobs
The Weah-led government, it is discovered, has been working overtime during the last five years to reestablish macro stability inherited from the past government. In this regard, this paper has gathered proof that the Government of Liberia has improved and reformed governance at the Central Bank, and is adding credibility to monetary policies by rebuilding and protecting net international reserves from the lows of the Unity Party Government.
These gains have culminated in the printing of 48 billion dollars in Liberian currency without inflation, which has led to an exchange rate stability only comparable to other African countries like Ghana with an inflation rate of 54 percent in 2022.
“This has led to the largest drop of inflation rate from 40 percent to current 6.9 percent, the fastest and most spectacular drop in inflation in economic history,” a CBL official informed this paper on condition of anonymity.
When it comes to fiscal policy gains under the Weah government, it was discovered that the highest quantum of domestic revenue raised and budgetary allocation made ever in the history of Liberia was US$695 million in domestic revenues and US$641 million in fiscal 2020/2021.
The Government of Liberia was also able to discover hidden debt to the Central Bank of Liberia left by the UP Government, which led to the rationalization of the total Government of Liberia debt obligation, leading to fiscal prudence and transparency.
It is also established that the Weah Government resolved all legacy debts owed to the Central Bank of more than 107 million dollars and more than 66 million dollars to commercial banks by the UP government, thereby increasing the credit worthiness of the Government of Liberia; while improving liquidity and solvency in the national banking system left nearly bankrupt by the UP government.
The process led to the ending of borrowing from the Central Bank of Liberia by overdrafts to pay government workers’ salaries, and the ending of “sell-pay” from the Central Bank. It also led to the reforming of a broken civil servant wage structure and saving the government of Liberia more than 32 million dollars annually.
According to documents in our possession, the government has been able to increase the pay of over 15,000 government workers during the harmonization process to rationalize the government wage bill; and increase the salary of 13,000 government workers since and after harmonization, as a result of the Government’s stringent fiscal policy.
Stabilize Rice and Fuel Prices
Under Pillar Two of the PADP, the Government of Liberia has worked to keep to the price of rice and fuel constant for nearly 50 months until war in Ukraine and other factor necessitated increases, which means letting go of US$10 million annually in revenues from fuel taxes to stabilize the price of petroleum on the market, while spending scarce revenues of US$14 million over two budget years to support the import of rice due to COVID-19 and the Ukraine War.
As the Weah Government has committed to ensuring macroeconomic relief and jobs to the Liberian people, 130,000 households or 780,000 individuals have been connected to the LEC grid since 2018, increasing Liberia’s electricity access to more than 30 percent, the highest in the postwar period.
The Government has also invested more than 65 million dollars to bring electricity from La Cote d’Ivoire through CLSG, which has substantially reduced the price of kilowatt per hour of electricity from 35 cents to between 19 -21 cents on average.
Roads and Infrastructure
The Weah-led Government, within the framework of the PAPD’s Pillar Two, has been heavily involved in the construction of roads and other infrastructures in the country. It has been established that this Government built more than 233 km of primary roads since 2018; paved the Ganta-Harper Highway; paved more than 116 km of urban community roads; and commenced construction of the RIA Highway; while continuing work on more than 620 km of primary and urban roads.
As regards to infrastructure development in the country, the Government has built several new government offices, to include the NPA, LPRC, Maritime and the NAFAA; while it is improving the APM Terminal Concession that will be more beneficial to the Liberian people.
Agriculture and Forestry
The Government of Liberia in this regard is providing agriculture grants to up to 60,000 farmers to improve food security; carrying out ongoing work on more than 200 km of feeder roads to support agribusiness; and placing Liberia’s forest reserves at the center of climate change.
Poverty and The Human Condition
Within this parameter, life expectancy has increased in Liberia up to 64 years, the highest in the Mano River Union countries, according to the World Development Indicators 2020. It is also established that extreme poverty has reduced by more than 8 percent, according to World Poverty Lab; and that Liberia has occasioned a reduction in the multiple dimensions of poverty, one of the 20 fastest countries that saw a dramatic decline in 2022, according to Global Multidimensional Poverty Index 2022.
In like manner, Liberia saw an increase in the Human Development Index (HDI) up to .481. Liberia was one of only ten countries on the planet that saw an increase in the HDI in 2022, according to the UNDP Human Development Report.
Contrary to misconception, Liberia has seen one of the highest increases in feminist mobilization on the globe, which means improved parity and social equity for women, according to UNDP Human Development Report 2022.
Pillar Three: Sustaining the Peace
Peace, Human Rights and Rule of Law
During President Weah’s five years administration, and in line with Pillar Three of his PAPD deliverables, the country saw increased gains relative to peace, human rights and the strengthening of the rule of law. In this regard, the government supported the expansion of courts throughout the country, which led to zero political prisoners and the sponsoring and signing of the dual citizenship law.
Security – Army
Within the ambit of Pillar Three, the Weah Government ensured increase in the budget of the army by USD 4 million in FY 2020.; increased soldiers’ pay by 20% to support Mali Peace Mission; repaid USD 1.1 million soldiers’ money stolen by Unity Party officials; renovated and improved housing facilities at the Barracks to improve the conditions of soldiers; invested in increasing the numerical and tactical strength of the military.
Security – Police
The Weah government also increased the budget of the LNP by more than 3 million in fiscal 2022; invested to increase the size of the LNP; invested in additional logistics for the LNP in or to combat crime by purchasing new equipment and increasing the visibility and effectiveness of the force; and as well invested in new uniforms for the police.
Liberia National Fire Service & Drug Enforcement Agency
The Weah Government procured more than ten fire trucks for the LNFS; while continuing crackdown on illicit drugs. Largest drug bust in Liberian history of cocaine in which the Government of Liberia collaborated with its counterparts from the Government of the United States of America signal a remarkable progress in the country’s fight against influx of illicit substances and narcotics.
Social Inclusion and Traditional Governance
Under this perimeter, the Government of Liberia has constructed more than 20 new market buildings for our marketers across the country; constructed more than 1,000 pro-poor homes across the 15 counties; is providing logistics, vehicles and motorbikes to Liberia’s traditional leadership across the 15 counties.
Pillar Four: Governance and Transparency
Under Pillar Four, the Government of Liberia has restored the budget of the GAC to levels before the macroeconomic shocks; improved audit of the government revenue account with better financial records than under the UP Government; and improved the standards of auditing from disclaimers on government revenue.
Evidently, Weah should be riding on the crest of his government’s achievements attained over the last five years, especially when it comes to meeting the objectives of the PAPD. As the Englishman often says, the proof of the pudding is in the eating, so too will Liberians be forced to reelect Weah based on what he has achieved just within five years. Giving him another five years will translate into much more development for this country,” says Dixon Junius of Point Four, Montserrado County.