After 30 days in office today, the jurors are still out with respect to whether or not President George Weah initial policy statements have inspired the hope he promised voters during the 2017 elections.
He wants to transform the country into a paradise: improve the life of every Liberian, make them cry no more, end corruption, poverty and inequality, provide free healthcare and education; build more road networks including costal highways.
To achieve his economic development goals, Weah is frantically seeking foreign financial aid and building his cabinet to a considerable extent on patronage and nepotism, the identical vices and policy missteps that contributed to his predecessor’s failure.
Like former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, President Weah has an incoherent policy prescription on the demotic economy and is presenting the country as a failed state or pariah to gain foreign governments and aid organizations recognition.
Delivering his first state of the nation address on January 29, Weah said “the state of the economy that my administration has inherited leaves a lot to be done and to be desired,” he said in his state of the nation address on Jan.29, 2018.
“Our economy is broken. Our government is broke. Our currency is in free fall. Inflation is raising, unemployment is at an unprecedented high and our foreign reserves is at an all-time-low.”
In her final state of the nation address Johnson Sirleaf said: In 2006, we inherited a collapsed economy, which recorded a staggering ninety percent decline in Gross Domestic Product (GDP) – the greatest decline by any nation since World War II.
“Our administration also inherited an unsustainable external debt level of US$4.9 billion – more than six times our GDP, brought about by debt unserviced for over two decades. A large verified domestic debt of over US$900 million lingered in arrears.
“The Treasury was virtually broke, facing salary arrears, unmet obligations to international bodies, and continuing food and fuel crises. With only US$80 million in annual revenues, Liberia was at the bottom of a very deep hole, desperately needing revival and emergency measures.
With this aid proposal, the Sirleaf administration received an estimated $1.1 billion in foreign financial assistance from foreign governments and aid agency. Between 2006 and 2014 the economy generated more than $3 billion United States dollars in government revenue.
Yet the 30-day-old Weah’s government is begging the donor community for $3 billion United States dollars to actualize its infrastructure program.
He is currently in the French Republic holding talks with President Emmanuel Macron The challenges facing Liberia, especially economic growth and youth employment” as well as the “role of sport as a factor of development.”
It is not clear how much more the president needs from France.
The European Union, which France is a key player in 2013 announced an extension of its aid portfolio to Liberia in the tune of €279 million -approximately $384.07million for Liberia for the period of 2014 – 2020 under the 11th European Development Fund.
Speaking then on behalf of the European Commission at a donor meeting in Brussels, Belgium, the EU Commissioner for Development Andris Piebalgs said $8.8billion is expected to support investments that generate growth and job creation for over 300 million citizens of West Africa.
For Liberia, he said the funding would support development interventions including energy, education and state building initiatives.
Analyst are concluding that Weah’s aid policy would not work.
“What Liberians should be worried over is why their President is lobbying for international aid rather than utilizing domestic resources – both human and natural capitals – to build an effective and efficient state,” Julius Kanubah, development and governance analyst based in Uppsala, Sweden said.
“International aid is good but besides weakening state capacity and the relations between the state and its people, aid leads to a vicious cycle. The evidence is vivid as no post-colonial African state has really developed out of aid. Domestic resource mobilization and utilization are critical. Weah and his regime need to learn from the immediate past of the Ellen Johnson Sirleaf administration which transferred power to him.”
– Festus Poquie