In continuation of our slot, “Know Your Candidate”, this week we are pleased to creep into the political closet of the political leader of the opposition Movement for Economic Empowerment (MOVEE), and 2017 presidential candidate, Dr. Joseph Mills Jones’ bid for the nation’s highest seat, the presidency.
Dr. Jones hails from Sinoe County but has connections to two other counties – Rivercess the home of his paternal Grandmother, Wehmah Jones, and Grand Bassa, the home of his maternal Great Grandfather Chief Krangar. Dr. Jones is married to Esther Buxton for over 40 years, together they have four children; Emmitt, Wehmah, Miatta and Myennohweh.
His father, Mr. Joseph Humphrey Jones – Businessman (deceased) Sole Proprietor, and his mother, Mrs. Catherine Cooper Jones – Teacher (deceased) Primary School
The MOVEE presidential candidate is brag of sound education with professional including his Doctorate Degree in Economics from the American University, Washington D.C. USA (Magna cum Laude), Master of Science Degree in Economics from the American University, Washington D.C. USA (Magna cum Laude), Bachelor of Science Degree in Economics from the Cuttington University College, Liberia (Magna cum Laude)
His Secondary Education took him to the Bishop Ferguson High School in Harper City, Maryland County R.L. (Valedictorian), he also attended the St Joseph Catholic School in Greenville, Sinoe County where he was also a Valedictorian
His national and international assignments saw him serving in several capacities, including Executive Governor of the Central Bank of Liberia (CBL) from 2006 to 2016, Assistant Minister at the Ministry of State for Presidential Affairs on Economic issues, Chief Economist and Special Assistant, Ministry of Planning and Economics Affairs, Alternative Governor, Board of Governors – International Monetary Fund, Technical Assistant/Advisor to the Executive Director for African Affairs.
On the international scene, Dr. Jones served the International Monetary Fund, Alternative Executive Director of World Bank – Bretton Woods Institution, Executive Director of the World Bank for Africa Affairs (Group I 22 countries)
ACHIEVEMENTS IN THE PUBLIC SECTORS:
Dr. Joseph Mills Jones has been fully involved in the restructuring of the Liberian economy. He was officially assigned to serve his country in a capacity to institute systems of reforms and policies to restore a genuine economy which was necessary due to the total decline of the nation’s infrastructures essential for sustainability and growth, as a result of decades of civil crisis, mismanagement, and corruption.
Dr. Joseph Mills Jones, a world-class professional economist, has exhibited exceptional performances in high levels executive leadership, and based on his keen innovations, management skills, experiences, and farsightedness, and expert international assistance, have managed to place the country on a path of growth despite the challenging economic environment. These many years of hard work and sacrificial efforts demonstrated by Dr. Jones’ team of expert economic professionals have dismantled some of the barriers to trade, simplified business licensing, and eased credit restrictions, contributing to an average growth rate of over 6 percent over the past five years. Progress and gains from previous reforms continue to be undermined or disrupted by institutional shortcomings. The country has little margin for dealing with crises of any sort. Further reforms, particularly strengthening the rule of law and improving regulatory efficiency, are critical to promoting long-term economic development goals.
Dr. Joseph Mills Jones was also instrumental in the formation of a social economic system intended to support the Liberian Marketing Association, Petty Traders, Farmers, Transport Unions and the less fortunate young men and women through an integrated empowerment program; with expansions throughout several villages in all 15 counties within the nation.
The Village Savings and Loan Associations was implemented as a progressive system that would ensure that all local communities have an opportunity to develop themselves into becoming economically empowered and self-reliant; a microfinancing initiative which allows the participation of citizen and encourages local small business to contribute to our nation’s economy. There are currently 675 registered VSLAs within the country.
Dr. Joseph Mills Jones worked very successfully to impact the revitalize the Credit Unions Sector and expanding its membership from 29 Unions to 375 Unions in Liberia, and he has strongly supported the Liberian Small Businesses, Entrepreneurs, and Marketers. He was instrumental in upgrading the Mortgage Industry which is cognizant of the importance of housing affordability, the growth of the Liberian Economy and the entire well-being of the Liberian people.
Empowered Thousands of Liberians by Improving access to Capital
- The CBL small/medium enterprise (SME) Credit Stimulus Initiative. Provides loans to Liberian-owned small businesses. By the end of the program in September 2013, a total of 93 loans had been awarded in Margibi, Nimba and Montserrado counties, impacting industries including fisheries, petroleum, manufacturing, and agriculture, amongst others. Thirty-one of these loans were provided to women-owned businesses.
- The Loan Extension and Availability Facility (LEAF). The LEAF program was designed as a collateral-free soft loan program to non-bank financial institutions: microfinance institutions, credit unions, and village savings and loan associations. The intent of the program was to provide access to capital to the microfinance sector in rural Liberia. The LEAF program commenced in January 2012 and to date has disbursed over L$400,000,000 million throughout Liberia’s fifteen counties. Beneficiaries include 10 Microfinance institutions, 118 credit unions, and 345 village savings and loan associations. Women represented over 80% of beneficiaries under the program.
- The CBL Mortgage Stimulus Initiative provided for the first time in Liberia a facility allocated through a commercial bank for Liberians to get loans for homeownership. A total of 69 loans, totaling over US$2.6 million have been disbursed under the program.
- The CBL Agricultural Stimulus Initiative recognized that agriculture is the main driver of economic activities in rural Liberia. This US$7.5 million stimulus has a focus on the rehabilitation of preexisting farms with a preference for investments requiring minimal gestation periods. The facility provides structured loans with consideration for the gestation period and is intended to impact rural Liberia. Over US$4.6 million and over L$65 million have been approved and disbursed within sectors such as rubber, cocoa, coffee, and oil palm, amongst others. A total of 12 countries have benefitted from this program.
- The CBL Credit Stimulus Initiative for Members of the Liberia Business Association (LIBA) is the second infusion of funds that provides access to finance for Liberian-owned businesses and is being implemented in conjunction with three commercial banks. A total of 38 loans have been approved under the program for over US$1.2 million and 32% of those loans have gone to women-owned businesses. At least 6 countries have now benefitted from this program.
Built the Capacity of Village Savings and Loan Associations (VSLAs) and Credit Unions
- Touted by women as “moving us from the mat to mattresses”, the VSLA initiative focuses on the structuring of a national apex for VSLAs. a traditional “SUSU” member financing group, with more than 30 women per group. Over 400 VSLAs have now been identified nationally and structured at the village, district, and county levels. Elections of officers have been held at all three levels including national and county leadership. The initiative includes significant capacity building formal training and graduations focusing on organizing, record keeping, savings, and business planning and resources including cash boxes and ledgers.
- Supported the revival and reorganization of the credit union sector resulting in more than 300 registered credit unions in various parts of Liberia.
Good Steward of the Central Bank of Liberia’s Assets
- Construction of a new Central Bank building with no debt.
- Increasing the Central Bank of Liberia’s surplus of $5,000,000 dollars at the beginning of his tenure to $500,000,000.
Improved the Financial Regulatory Environment
- Restructured the Liberian Insurance Industry, leading to improved management and a stronger capital base.
- Led the effort to establish the “Fast Track Commercial Court” to expedite business related cases.
- Established a Collateral Registry to help facilitate access to credit. Both demand and supply-side data were collected. Results from the survey will inform future national policy decisions regarding financial inclusion initiatives in Liberia.
Changing the lives of hundreds of thousands through rural community financial institutions
The availability of banking and financial services is taken for granted by city dwellers and people in Monrovia. Not so in the rural areas of Liberia, where traveling from one town to another on motorcycles or walking great distances to cash a check or to receive a money transfer is common and can, unfortunately, sometimes result in death on the bad roads. Recognizing the key role that financial services play in economic empowerment, the establishment of Rural Community Financial Institutions (RCFI) is a major priority of Dr. J. Mills Jones. RCFI are 100% owned by Liberian community members consisting of market women, farmers, petty-traders youth and community members. RCFIs provide savings mobilization, checking accounts, loans, direct deposits, Money Gram and Western Union services, and payment of government checks.
The following 10 RCFIs were funded, built, staffed and dedicated in eight Counties in Liberia during Dr. J. Mills Jones’ tenure at the CBL.
- Gbehley-Geh Rural Community Financial Institution
Karnplay, Nimba County
- Grand Kru Rural Community Financial Institution
Barclayville, Grand Kru County
- River Gee Rural Community Financial Institution
Fish Town, River Gee County
- Barpolou Rural Community Financial Institution
Bopolu City, Barpolou County
- Totota Rural Community Financial Institution
Totota, Bong County
- Sanniquelli Rural Community Financial Institution
Sanniquellie, Nimba County
- Tapata Rural Community Financial Institution
Tapata, Nimba County
- Zorzor Rural Community Financial Institution
Zorzor, Lofa County
- Kolahun Rural Community Financial Institution
Kolahun, Lofa County
- Rivercess Rural Community Financial Institution
Rivercess, Rivercess County
Dr. J Mills Jones’ vision for Liberia in the 21st Century; The New Liberia
- Establish a government that operates on the basis of Liberia being a nation of collective responsibility of all citizens.
- Utilize the Presidency as a mission of service for political, economic, and social transformation.
- Restructure the Liberian economy to reduce dependency on primary commodities.
- Ensure inclusive economic development that guarantees peace, stability, and sustainable transformation.
- Declare war against ignorance, disease, and poverty.
- Defeat tribalism while ensuring a better appreciation of our cultural and traditional heritage.
- Improve all roads network, construct modern highways and farm to market roads within the local sub-regions of the country.
- Reconstruct the education system to ensure responsiveness to modern economics and technology.
- Create a student loan program that covers tuition and text books at all accredited colleges, universities and technical vocational institutions.
- Improve the medical and health care systems in urban and rural areas.
- Develop the agricultural sector to achieve food security.
- Encourage and protect foreign investments and partnerships.
- Create better job opportunities rooted in the private sector mining, energy, manufacturing and agricultural industries.
- Develop a stable and professional civil service.
- Change the development paradigm from dependency to self-reliance.
- Promote government decentralization.
- Create a fair and accountable justice system.
- Provide the opportunity for Liberians in the diaspora to participate in the national democratic and economic development process.
- Expand and maintain mutual regional and international cooperation.
- Encourage and protect all foreign investments.
MOVEE is a political party that believes in the Economic Empowerment of the Liberian People.
Successful economic management is not just about growth statistics; rather, it is about improving the lives of the people. And in the land of massive poverty, this is not a question for debate. The Choice is between action and despair.