LIBERIA: Opposition LPP Begins Public Engagement On Poverty Reduction
A public education or engagement exercise intended to uplift Liberians out of poverty focusing on the economy, education and corruption was launched yesterday by the Liberian People’s Party (LPP) in Monrovia.
It identifies traders basically buying and selling in the streets of Monrovia and its surroundings hoping that the engagement will encourage the government to design and implement policies that would uplift poverty-stricken Liberians.
LPP’s Chairman, J. Yanqui Zaza, said traders within urban cities borrow money at a high interest rate and a short repayment period of loans. Worst still, there are not many customers with money to buy because of the continuous spiral downturn Liberian economy.
And on the other hand, he went further: there are too many sellers because many rural residents are migrating into urban cities since they cannot find jobs and living conditions are crushingly hurting.
Zaza stated among many things that traders in Monrovia and other urban areas continue to face increasing operational costs, due to rising diesel and gasoline prices,
And this has to do with major importers of petroleum products into the country, such as Aminata and Sons, Super Petroleum, National Petroleum, Total, SRIMEX, and Jomanday, are hoarding and creating an artificial shortage of these products on the market to grant themselves higher prices.
He believes that the government received from donors US714 million in 2017/2018 and US$57 million in 2022/2021 which is in addition to the US$500 million revenue generated in each year yet traders did not benefit from the approximately US$1 billion pumped into the Liberian economy yearly.
On the question of what the LPP should do, Zaza said it is to help rural communities to organize themselves into cooperatives, and the legislature should appropriate funding for communities to invest into diamonds, gold, and timber industries.
He opined that the regime should look for credible investors who are interested in and willing to join with residents and invest into communities’ natural resources such as logs, communities manufacturing of chairs, tables, beds, office desks and many more.
“Communities can dig and sell golds and diamonds, can plant cassava, eddoes which the government can buy and feed children in public schools, prison inmates and patients in public hospitals,” Zaza noted.
The LPP chairman went further that this economic arrangement might encourage children to remain in school and respect older residents and become disciplined at schools, religious institutions among others.
“This arrangement might encourage many Liberians to become productive, especially those residing in Lofa, Bong, Grand Cape Mount, Gbarpolu, Grand Bassa and Margibi Counties thereby having the propensity to effect the reduction in the perennial demand to import rice,” LPP noted.
Assumingly, the party advanced further that a significant increase in the consumption of cassava, eddoes, and plantain might convince regular rice eaters to shift from solely eating rice to cassava, eddoes, and plantain which will happen because attitude is contagious.
Remember, the party stated that traders have realized that they have limited opportunities, therefore they join the buy and sell societal norm, adding, “Encourage traders to go back home and join cooperatives to dig diamonds, plant cassava, eddoes, plantain and produce rice as well.”
On the fight against corruption, LPP said greedy profit seeking investors will always offer bribes to government employees because rich and business people or non-governmental agencies, traders, diamond dealers among others do not regard bribe offering as a bad business.
“They believe that bribe giving greases the wheels of businesses. Moreover, ordinary people do not have a problem with business people who offer bribes, even though they criticize those who receive it,” the party lamented.
Therefore, LPP stressed that residents in rural communities take ownership and at least partly manage natural resources, thereby reducing the influence of greedy profiteers, and the government should require local non-governmental agencies to publish their financial statements, since they are receiving public money.
It said the government should discourage money lending institutions from lending money to poor performing businesses. They should ensure that a borrower has adequate collateral before approving load.
“Prohibit lawmakers and office holders from owning and or managing businesses such as law firms, engineering firms, logging companies, schools clinics and many more,” it noted.
LPP said both former and present officials of government should be investigated by getting documents from various ministries thereby asking individuals to prove the source of money and investigating any housing properties above US$150, 000 and structures built in less than 20 years.
On education, the party said government officials should be prohibited from owning and managing schools, loans should be provided to deserving students and design payments plans, including denying delinquent students employment, promotion and travelling.
“Create or empower enforcement divisions within the education ministry to enforce rules and regulations, as well as rehiring of old age teachers since there are a limited number of qualified teachers in the country,” the party said.