The President Pro-Tempore of the Liberian Senate Armah Zolu Jallah says Liberia needs to identify its priorities in terms of adopting policies that will benefit its citizens. The Pro-Tempore made specific reference to the indefinite cessation on logging activities by the government of Liberia saying, it is grossly undermining the economy of the country.
Senator Jallah explained that because of the ban, rural roads previously built by logging companies are in terrible conditions and employment opportunities for local dwellers are non-existent. The Pro-Tempore reckoned that government lacks the capacity to build rural roads and as such it relies on business institutions like logging companies to assist.
“Liberia does not export computers, cars, phones etc. the economy of the country is dependent on export of rubber, timber, cocoa etc. when you stop these, you create hardship for your people” Pro-Temp Jallah averred.
The Pro-Temp cautioned that while international regulations help to minimize environmental risks, government should carefully study those protocols to ensure the interest of its people are protected. “Environmentalists such as Global Witness will tell your country to stop mining and logging because of concerns over climate change issues. But it is left with you, as a government to know that the same logging companies build your roads and employ your people thus reducing the economic pressure on you” Senator Jallah noted. He said, “These companies uphold our international treaty obligations in the International Tropical Timber Organization, ITTO and CBO etc”.
The Pro-Tempore disagrees with widespread assertions that logging activities are responsible for deforestation leading to climate change. According to him, most climate change issues are triggered by unhealthy practices such as shifting cultivation and subsistence farming mostly done by locals in developing countries, while pollution in the atmosphere from industrial countries counts the most destructive.
Pro-Tempore Jallah then compared Liberia’s situation with that of Singapore, which years back, was just like Liberia. He said it took a responsible leadership to build Singapore up to the level it is today. “The knowledge used by Singapore to build their country was borrowed from Liberia during the administration of President Tubman” he added.
The Senate Pro-Tempore made the assertions Tuesday when he received in audience a member of the US House of Representatives from District Number 53 in the State of Montana. Representative Dave Hagstrom is in the country to discuss possible investment plans, especially in Gbarpolu County.
According to Representative Hagstrom, he has interest in developing small hydro electrical power generation in Gbarpolu County to help rural dwellers access cheaper electricity. The US Lawmaker said he has done some assessment of the county and found that power is a major problem there.
Representative Hagstrom informed Pro-Temp Jallah that back home in Montana, USA, electricity is cheaper because water resources have been developed to generate electricity. “Here in Liberia, I’m told you pay US 53 cents per kilowatt, but in Montana, a kilowatt costs US 9 cents”, Representative Hagstrom disclosed.
Responding to the US lawmaker plans, Pro-Temp Jallah welcomed the initiative and called for more international partnerships that will spur economic growth in the country.