Liberians were overly astonished and weary when the Chairman of the Senate Ways & Means Committee at the Liberian Senate publicly announced that the coffer of the Liberian Government has been emptied with only US$500,000.00, many Liberians who spoke to our reporter expressed fear, noting that there will be increased hardship during the months to come.
Senator Edward Dargoseh of Grand Cape Mount County, in western Liberia on a live radio talk show on OK FM, said the country’s coffer was been depleted in the face of the inauguration of Liberia’s 24th President, world’s soccer legend, George Manneh Weah on January 22, 2018.
Senator Dargoseh speaking further, expressed fear that if nothing is done to tackle this situation, the incoming Government of Senator Weah may find it difficult in the growth and development of the Liberian economy.
Early this week another Senator from Maryland County, Dan Morais who is also Chairman on Foreign Relations at the Liberian Senate told journalists in Monrovia, projected that the incoming administration of President – Elect Mr. George Weah needs one billion United States Dollars to be able to jumpstart the economy here.
“And to be honest with you, this government if we must be able to jumpstart the economy, we will need nothing less than … one billion United States Dollars in the next one and a half to two years,” Sen. Marais said Tuesday, 2 January on a local radio station in Monrovia.
As Chairman on Foreign Relations at the Liberian Senate, Sen. Morais says he kept himself busy with keeping records, adding that [some] of those things that he was compelled to keep record on were Liberia’s HIPC position, what is the country’s foreign debt and how much is owed.
The Maryland County Senator says he is worried over some Liberians’ extremely high expectation for performance from the incoming administration of Mr. Weah, a former soccer legend with significant following among the youthful population here.
Mr. Weah won Liberia’s presidency at a runoff poll in December on a coalition ticket comprising of three parties excluding other collaborators against the ruling Unity Party (UP’s) candidate outgoing Vice President Joseph Nyumah Boakai.
Following a delayed runoff election challenged by legal cases resulting from the outcome of a controversial poll conducted in October for 20 candidates, Mr. Weah is now due to be sworn in on 22 January to succeed outgoing President Mrs. Ellen Johnson – Sirleaf in the first smooth transition of power between civilian authorities in 73 years.
But ahead of his inauguration, his former colleague and Senate Committee Chair on Foreign Relations Sen. Morais warns that right now Liberia stands at $800 million dollars debt that the new government will inherit.
Of that amount, Sen. Morais says approximately $600m is foreign debt while $200m is domestic. Mr. Morais emphasizes that he is worried that the expectation for performance from the Weah government is very high, and people will soon start accusing the incoming government of what it hasn’t done and what it has done.
“The expectation is so high to the extent like sometime you’re on the Somalia Drive, you know there is a traffic jam, you hear somebody coming from the blind side, okay we’ll see as soon as George Weah becomes president, we will straighten this one. Please tell me how George Weah will come straighten traffic?” Mr. Morais says.
Sen. Morais, however, believes that some Liberians are having such a loose expectation because certain group of Liberians has ruled the country a little bit too long.
But he cautions that right now it is difficult for the government to go back to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to secure a loan because Liberia has almost reached its peak.
“Now are you telling me that if our people are starving we’ll keep all these benchmarks in place and let the Liberian people starve?” he wonders. He says he recently told his colleagues at the Senate that more is needed to be done for Liberia to move to its right trajectory.
In the Senate, Mr. Morais says whenever there were documents about loan ratification; he made a lot of fuss about them, raising questions as to whose hands they go into.
He claims that his colleagues never understood his argument until of late when they could not say what Liberia’s debt burden was when he tried to inquire from them. He reminds listeners that Liberia has a HIPC point and it has to reach those benchmarks.