LP Platform (Being updated from 2011)
1. Preamble:-Why the Unity Party Government Should not be Re-elected
2. Why We Seek State Power?
2.1 To Deal with the “Hard Times” by Promoting the General Welfare of All Liberians
2.1.1 Creating Jobs that enhance our dignity
2.1.2 Making the Liberian Entrepreneur a Leader of our New Middle Class
2.1.3 Building a More Diversified Economy
2.1.4 Achieving Food Security
2.1.5 Investing in the Education of the Liberian People
2.1.6 Investing in Robust Preventive Healthcare System/Controlling HIV/AIDS
2.1.7 Building Decent and Peaceful Homes and Communities to Live in
2.1.8 Investing in Infrastructure to Support our Development
2.2 To Reform the Government—Making the Government Work for the People
2.2.1 Fighting Corruption
2.2.2 Transforming the Presidency to Serve the People
2.2.3 Amending those Provisions of our Constitution that Inhibit Empowerment
2.2.4 Empowering the People through Decentralizing the Government
2.2.5 Realigning the Government for Better Service
2.2.6 Institutionalizing/Promoting Democracy and Elections
2.3 To Reconcile The People, Establish Justice, And Promote Sustainable Peace
2.3.1 Promoting National Reconciliation
2.3.2 Completing the Security Sector Reform
2.3.3 Promoting International Peace and Development
2.3.4 Expanding Access to Justice through Law and Court System Reform
2.3.5 Ensuring the Rule of Law
2.3.6 Advancing the Rights of Women
2.3.7 Owning the Land We Live On
3. Where the Funding Will Come From – Fiscal and Monetary Policy
3.1 Improving Public Expenditure Management
3.2 Fiscal Policy Outlook
3.3 Monetary Policy Outlook
1. Preamble-Why the Unity Party Government Should not be Re-elected
As we approach the 2011 Presidential and Legislative elections, Liberia again finds itself at a crossroad. On the eve of these pivotal elections, as throughout our past—distant and immediate—the Liberian people face great challenges, justifiably with grave apprehension. The Unity Party Government, by its own admission, concedes that the situation of the ordinary Liberian got worse during its tenure in office despite supposedly spending billions of US dollars from revenue and foreign aid.
After nearly six years of Unity Party-led Government and enormous flow of foreign aid into the country, the majority of the Liberian people continue to face unprecedented hardships. Each day is a desperate struggle for survival: 64% percent of Liberians (about 2 out of every 3) still cannot afford to feed themselves and their families adequately; 48 % of Liberians (almost half) live in extreme poverty.1 An analysis of the Unity Party Government published statistics, show that poverty in Liberia is increasing; there are more Liberians who are poor now than at the time this government was inaugurated.
The total population living in poverty (on less than one dollar a day) has gone up from 74 % in 2005 to 76.2%2; despite the $1.456 billion collected in revenues from taxes, maritime, and other sources over the past five and half years. Moreover, the international community has been especially generous in providing support. In addition to waiving $4.9 billion in public debt, commitments of $1.6 billion in Official Development Assistance (ODA) have been made against the government’s Poverty Reduction Strategy (PRS). Most of this money has been received.3 Where did this $3 billion in revenue plus ODA go? How can a Poverty Reduction Strategy (PRS) lead to an increase in poverty?
Some of the answers to these questions can be found in the reports of the General Auditing Commission (GAC). Since 2006, about 65 audits have been completed. The reports document a systematic pattern of misuse, abuse, and outright theft of public resources. Acts of fraud and other forms of stealing have been allegedly committed by senior officials of the Unity Party Government at central ministries and agencies and at the county level. To date, no official of significance has been successfully prosecuted and/or made to restitute stolen “government money”. Those accused are usually left where they are or re-assigned to other areas where they steal some more.
Furthermore, the Unity Party Government continues to sell off our natural resources (iron ore, forest products, fishes, and diamonds) with very little benefit accruing to the Liberian people. According to the government’s reports, $16 to $18
1 Ministry of Planning and Economic Affairs 2008
2 Core Welfare Indicator Survey 2007
3 IMF, Liberia PRS Progress Report, October 2010
Liberty Party: 2011 Platform 3 | P a g e
billion in new investments have been negotiated, supposedly creating at least 130,000 new jobs.4 But in its 2010 Annual Report, the Central Bank of Liberia reported only 144,647 jobs in the entire country; and 37,532 of these were government jobs.
The unemployment rate was 83% in 20035; it has reduced by 1 percent to only 82%. Our universities and colleges continue to put out thousands of new graduates each year into an economy where no jobs are being created. About 82% (more than 8 out of every 10) Liberians must struggle to make a living in the informal sector or by “making market” while the Unity Party Government sells our natural resources for little or nothing. Where did the $16 to $18 billion in investments go?
If the GAC’s report on the Liberia Petroleum Refining Company (LPRC) is anything to go by, it is noteworthy that out of US$318,761,591 million in crude oil products lifted under an agreement with the Government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in 2006 and 2007, and sold in the name of the Government of Liberia, only $553,000 was deposited into government revenue. Additionally, financial irregularities of almost US$14 million in one year have been documented at LPRC.6 A systematic pattern of corruption infests all our dealings with foreign investors. Public corruption is at a level never before heard of. In 2010, Liberia made history again; this time as the “most corrupt” country in the world7—beating out Nigeria and Afghanistan that held this inglorious title for many years.
Corruption also pervades the administration of Justice. The Unity Party Government seems to be determined to ignore the causes of our civil war by ensuring that the people cannot get justice: armed robbers go free; rapists go free, while the Liberia National Police Emergency Response Unit (ERU) flogs school children for demonstrating peacefully for what they believe are their rights. Incidence of violent crime, mob and vigilante justice, and bloody land disputes continue to claim numerous lives revealing persistent systemic weaknesses within the security sectors and judiciary that have not been addressed.8
While corruption remains the single major contributor to the suffering of the Liberian people, wrong policy choices exacerbate the situation. The country is going in the wrong direction—following the same path that led us to civil war. A choice of free and open market, without consideration of subsidy to basic commodities in the face of the devastation of the civil war, ensured that the domestic price of food would rise rapidly. So, the average price of a bag of rice went up by approximately
4 2010 Annual Report of the National Investment Commission
5 UNDP; Liberia: National Human Development Report 2006
6 General Auditing Commission, LPRC Audit Report for the Financial Year 31 December 2006 to 2007
7 Transparency International, December 2010
8 Human Rights Watch, Liberia Report, January 2010
Liberty Party: 2011 Platform 4 | P a g e
US$10 to US$15 over the past six years. In general, food prices went up by 9%9. The exchange rate jumped from about L$ 36:1 US$ to L$72.5:1 US$ as the country struggled with huge trade imbalances—importing far (up to 5 times) more than our exports.
Our gross domestic product grew by 7.8%, 9.4%, 8.3%, 6%, and 5.5 % in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, and 2010 respectively10; while the average rate of inflation rose from 8.8 % to 12.5 %11. This means that while the Unity Party Government’s return to the old “Open Door” policies to foster macroeconomic growth via increased foreign direct investment and currency stability has brought some growth in the economy, enough attention has not been paid to the cost of living and getting benefits of the “peace dividend” to the ordinary Liberians. And the Unity Party Government does not care. Instead, its fiscal policy focus is on raising revenues for itself and not for the Liberian people. Squeezing the private sector with the “corruption tax” on importation of goods eventually translates into higher prices for basic commodities.
So, the benefits of this modest economic growth accrued to only those Liberians owning rental properties, to those who steal from government, or to foreigners doing business here—the Unity Party Government is helping the few that are already rich to get even richer.
But Liberians are a resilient people—determined to improve themselves in spite of the Unity Party Government. In 2009, Liberians registered 6,137 businesses—87 % of all registrations12. Nevertheless, the choice of a free market policy ensures that these businesses, especially owned by those who have not joined the Unity Party, will continue to struggle due to under-capitalization and lack of business opportunities.
In public procurement, the one area where the Unity Party Government has absolute discretionary authority, most of the significant business opportunities with government go to Lebanese, Ghanaians, Chinese, and other non-Liberian nationals. Liberians must obtain bank loans to do business in areas of the economy where profits are marginal or where no market exists. Even those business opportunities that were traditionally for Liberians only have been cancelled. Liberians are being systematically excluded from or pushed out of the more lucrative areas of the economy by the Unity Party’s business policy.
In social services policy, basic education remains a luxury that many either do not have access to or cannot afford because the cost of schooling is too high. The
9 MPEA, Liberia PRS Progress Report
1111 CBL, Economic and Financial Bulletin, March 2010
12 Ministry of Commerce and Industry; Annual Report 2009
Liberty Party: 2011 Platform 5 | P a g e
number of public schools increased by 276% from 1989 to 2008; but private schools increased by 582%, mission schools by 404%, and community schools by 2,437%. This means that people got tired of waiting for the government and started their own private or community schools—increasing overall school enrollment by 246%. Girls remain especially disadvantaged with net primary school enrollment growing from 41 % to only 58 % between 2002 and 2009 and net secondary enrollment declining from 28% to 27%13. Despite the emphasis on gender parity of the first-elected female president, the pressure on children to fulfill family responsibilities and provide income because of the unaddressed poverty conditions remain high.
The Unity-Party Government’s health services financing report shows that out of every $1 spent on healthcare 38 cents come directly out of the pockets of ordinary Liberians, 47 cents come from donors, and only 15 cents come from government revenue. Therefore, the free healthcare policy is a lie.
Improvements in the health and life expectancy of the population have come largely as a result of money they and the donors spent. Seventy-five percent of government facilities are run by donors. Had it not been for the donors, many more Liberians would continue to die from simple treatable diseases. Liberia still has one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the world with 994 women dying out of every 100,000 births. This is happening because of a systematic syphoning of resources supposedly allocated for hospitals and clinics. Furthermore, basic services, including pipe borne water, light, and roads are still absent in most parts of the country.
While progress has been made in improving the country’s standing with the international community, it is obvious that the Liberian people, from whom the government draws its authority, are the government’s least important constituency. The Unity Party Government has failed to provide adequate leadership on several key domestic policy issues that are crucial to the long-term peace and stability of the country. In particular there is no policy direction on national reconciliation, local empowerment through governance reform, increasing Liberians’ stake in their economy, ensuring a competitive and transparent political environment, etc.
Liberians cannot afford six more years of this leadership. If the past six years brought only hard times, re-electing this administration for six more will ensure that the majority of Liberians remain poor, suffering, and vulnerable. Furthermore, if times have been hard, six more years of the Poverty Reduction Strategy will only deepen the suffering and ensure that poverty passes from this generation of Liberians to the next.
13 UNDP, Op Cit
Liberty Party: 2011 Platform 6 | P a g e
Therefore, the 2011 election is a defining moment in the history of our country when political leaders can be told that they will be voted out of office because they failed to make decisions in the best and utmost interest of the Liberian people. This crossroad is marked with two clear options; namely, to take our beloved country into the 21st Century as a nation poised to make progress by following a sustainable development agenda, or to exist as a nation enamored with the status quo of governance characterized by endemic corruption, high unemployment, abuse of rights of students and workers, and extreme poverty for the majority of our people. It lies within the power of each Liberian to reject a government that is making life more difficult for its people and demand a government that works to meet their needs.
2. Why We Seek State Power?
It is in light of the above that the Liberty Party seeks the confidence of the Liberian people to right the Liberian political leadership. We believe that it is incumbent upon the government to create the environment for every Liberian to make a decent living, to acquire a good education to take advantage of opportunities in a 21st Century economy, to provide for family, and to thrive regardless of his or her background.
The Liberian state came into being espousing the view that:
“The end of the institution, maintenance and administration of government is to secure the existence of the body politic, to protect it, and to furnish the individuals who compose it, with the power of enjoying in safety and tranquility their natural rights and the blessings of life…”
Our organic law noted that, to secure these blessings for posterity, Liberia would:
“..Establish justice, ensure domestic peace, and promote the general welfare” of all its citizens.
In the 1986 constitution, Liberians once again affirmed these ideals and today they remain and constitute our collective vision. But realizing this vision remains elusive. The Liberty Party offers the ageless vision; re-stating our commitment to make the Liberia of the dream. This platform outlines practical measures to address the main challenges facing the Liberian people and to steer the country in a new direction.
We do not promise what our resources, capacities, and commitment cannot achieve, if judiciously managed. The policies and programs we propose are based on a thorough analysis of the current situation. The promises we make are informed by our conviction that we have the will to make Liberia better and the know-how to harness our resources for our shared prosperity. We seek the favor
Liberty Party: 2011 Platform 7 | P a g e
of our people for the opportunity to lead and, if chosen, promise to work night and day to uphold this sacred trust.
2.1 To Deal with the “Hard Times” by Promoting the General Welfare of All Liberians
2.1.1 Creating Jobs that Enhance our Dignity
Traditionally, the government has been the single largest employer. This is unsustainable. The public sector will never provide sufficient jobs for our people. The medium-term macroeconomic outlook indicates a constrained fiscal space even with steady positive growth. Therefore, Liberty Party believes the role of government is to create an enabling environment that unleashes the entrepreneurial spirit of our people and thereby grow the private sector of our economy.
Rather than attempting to interfere in all sectors of the economy, our interventions will be strategic and catalytic with a focus on direct support for only those areas showing potential for a positive multiplier effect, the opening of markets (domestic and international), and/or reduction in the costs of doing business in Liberia.
Private sector-led growth will be supported through a set of fiscal and monetary policies that progressively reduce the presence of government in the economy—creating opportunities for the private sector to provide services traditionally assumed by government. A strong private sector will also be achieved by supporting promising informal sector enterprises to scale up to cottage industries.
Key elements of our short to long term measures to create jobs include the following:
i. Creating short-term employment opportunities through labor-intensive or “make-work” approach to rehabilitation of our road and sanitation infrastructures, as well as to rebuild and maintain our schools and community health centers. In partnership with key donors, we will scale up programs such as the Core Education Skills for Liberian Youth (CESLY) funded by USAID, to provide apprenticeship training at local businesses and workshops for up to 10 months after which time the trainees will remain on the job as salaried employees. The target will be to create up to 100,000 such opportunities over the first three years of a Liberty Party Administration (30,000 targeted to former combatants drawn into non-lethal AFL engineering brigades).
ii. Making government procurement of goods and services transparent and competitive while getting more business opportunities into Liberian
Liberty Party: 2011 Platform 8 | P a g e
hands. This will afford every interested Liberian the opportunity to do business with the government. Proposals will be made to the National Legislature to modify public procurement regulations to grant preferential treatment in procurement to bona fide Liberian-owned businesses provided there is no loss in the quality of goods or services. The goal is to award public procurement/supply opportunities that can help to capitalize Liberian business for re-investment in the economy. Proposals will also be made to set limits on how much government business can be awarded to any one vendor or contractor each budget year. Furthermore, guidelines for the settlement of domestic debt will be modified to include a provision that allows Liberian suppliers and contractors with outstanding payments below US$100,000 to “move up the line” in payment priority.
iii. Reduce excess liquidity in banking sector to fund profitable investments in the economy, especially in commercial agriculture production, through new measures to reduce the risk of lending to commercial banks. This would entail a new security instrument that will allow lenders to seize and liquidate collaterals without a lengthy process through the courts. Furthermore, working with the Liberia Chamber of Commerce, the Liberia Business Association, and the Liberia Bankers Association establish a credit-rating service and make it mandatory that all individual and corporate borrowers provide and share basic information that attest to their creditworthiness. The goal is to reduce the risk to bank lending and the ratio of non-performing loans to total loans from 10.3% to 5% in five years;
iv. Retaining and expanding the open market for the supply of petroleum products, cement, rice, and produce buying; and generally eschewing monopoly arrangements in all and any form in the economy. Special efforts will be made to counter the accumulated benefits of long standing monopolies, toward empowering bona fide Liberian businesses to effectively participate in both international and domestic trade Medium Term.
v. Stimulate capital investments by repealing the National Investment Act of 2010 to cancel the special investment incentives code regime currently administered through the National Investment Commission (NIC) and replace with general industry-wide incentives, in an effort to improve the open business climate in Liberia. Incentives will be granted to any and all businesses within priority sectors and solely for the one-time acquisition and/or replacement of capital equipment and for the construction of production facilities through the tax authorities. Priority sectors for incentives include commercial agriculture, logging, fisheries, energy,
Liberty Party: 2011 Platform 9 | P a g e
privately provided healthcare and education, and value added processing of agricultural produce for export. Special project applications for granting of investment incentives will no longer need to be processed.
vi. Within the first year of a Liberty Party Government, amendments will be proposed to the National Investment Commission Act of 2010 to enhance the relevance of the NIC by transforming it into a Trade and Business Promotion Center with a special orientation to catalyzing the formation of partnerships between Liberian and foreign businesses to develop medium sized export-oriented enterprises especially in commercial agriculture ventures, Other priority ventures will include community-based energy solutions, support services for communications and IT solutions, affordable housing solutions.
vii. Stimulate investments in the economy by modifying the tax regime–especially the provision that requires the advance payment of withholding and income taxes calculated on estimated gross income. This will be replaced with payments on actual net income earned with a minimum requirement and no provision to carry forward business losses to subsequent tax years. Revenue from income and withholding taxes is expected to stagnate in the first year after this modification but will rebound with more certainty and transparency in tax administration.
viii. Migrating to a flat-tax regime for custom and import duties over three years so payers can better anticipate the tax and be encouraged to pay the legitimate taxes directly to government as opposed to the corruption tax incumbent upon the current complex system.
ix. Establish a Student Service Corp to draw high school graduates and college students into community service. The goal is provide 3,000 service/teaching/mentoring-type opportunities over 3 years .
x. Establish youth-empowerment programs in partenship with the private sector and NGO’s, by providing cost sharing contribution from GOL and other partners, to provide non-formal education for out-of-school youth, teach basic literacy, numeracy, life and business skills, and promote public-private partnerships in workforce development. The goal is to create 100,000 opportunities with stipends over 3 years.
xi. Expand the education sector with more formal and informal teaching and trianing opportunities for school-age children, adult learners, and vocation and technical education. The goal is to create 12,000 new teaching opportunitie
Liberty Party: 2011 Platform 10 | P a g e
xii. Reviewing the CBL regulations on Deposit-taking Microfinance Institutions to encourage and support an expanded version of the aid infrastructure that NGOs now have in place; opening space for private for-profit participation.
xiii. Enforcing laws that prohibit foreign investors from bringing into the country foreign workers to perform Jobs that Liberians can do.
xiv. With support from our international partners, rationalize state-owned enterprises (SOEs) into three categories—liquidation, commercialization, and privatization. The program will ensure that bona fide Liberian persons and government acquire over time significant interest in the resulting private enterprises or commercial arrangements. All regulatory functions performed by public corporations will be transferred to the relevant government sector ministries or boards.
xv. Starting during the second year of the Liberty Party Government, focus on private sector led strategies to grow our agricultural sector so as to increase incomes in our farmers’ hands and reduce poverty; relying on the medium term expenditure (fiscal) framework, to be developed with the participation of our foreign partners, to focus resources around a single country plan for agricultural sector development.
xvi. Re-capitalize the Agriculture and Cooperative Development Bank with significant private interest and control to finance commercial ventures in the agriculture sector with public guarantees. The goal is to raise the portfolio of new loans going to the agriculture sector from 4% of total bank loans to at least 40% in 5 years; giving priority to rice, rubber, logs/sawnwood, oil palm and agro-processing ventures.
xvii. Re-capitalize the National Housing and Savings Bank with significant private interest and control to finance low and medium-cost, and commercial housing, ventures.
xviii. Stimulate broad growth in the economy through reduction in the regulatory burden (business registration, import/export document processing, pre-payment of withholding tax); open service delivery opportunities and market competition in areas currently dominated by public corporations (energy, IT, communications, urban water and sanitation, produce buying and exports), and engage all major existing concessionaires in the iron ore, timber, agricultural and rubber industries to provide full government support in ensuring that their projects are fully operational by the end of 2013. The goal is to reduce government’s overall presence in the economy and ratio of revenue to GDP from 38% to 25% over six years.
Liberty Party: 2011 Platform 11 | P a g e
xix. Aggressively lead bilateral trade negotiations to open new export markets while seeking to develop the manufacturing sector of our economy. A major shortcoming in managing our natural resources has been a failure to make them more valuable to our country by producing semi-finished or finished products. Another short-coming is the absence of set-asides and preferential treatment for subcontracting of Liberian-owned businesses/domestic suppliers, in the negotiation of mineral development and concession agreements, to build a more sustainable link to the local economy. This means the country derives less value by selling our natural resources for cheap, repurchases the finished products at higher prices, and fails to integrate other Liberian industries with these extractive industries. The goal is to maximize the benefits that accrue to the country from the exploitation of our natural resources; and cut overall trade deficit by one-half from US$517 million in 2010 to US$258 million in 6 years. This will concurrently reduce the exchange rate between the L$ and the $US and the inflationary pressures contributing to high prices.
xx. Establish a microfinance regulatory and supervisory framework, introducing microfinance institutions (MFI) to receive limited deposit-taking in rural areas supported with deposit guarantees (up to L$25,000.00 per depositor). This will, (a) reduce the geographical distance between small and potential savers, especially those in the informal sector, and “banks”; (b) eliminate the bureaucracy involved in transacting business with banks, and (c) increase confidence that their deposits are secured. MFIs, as an outreach approach, will ensure that more small savings come into the formal business environment. Goal: increase access to banking and financial services throughout the country, ensuring that the national economy under a Liberty Party Government will benefit from the accumulation of capital which banks can lend to productive commercial ventures, thereby creating more employment opportunities for Liberians.
xxi. Introduce community-based micro-insurance schemes to reduce the risks of adverse health, accident, and death to those in the informal sector in exchange for regular premium payments matched to the current family out of pocket expenses on health care and burial. Currently, 92% of our workforce has no insurance coverage. The goal is to increase the coverage and access to insurance and reduce the risks for illness and death to families so they can spend more time engaged in productive economic activities.
2.1.2 Making the Liberian Entrepreneur a Leader of Our New Middle Class
A key part of our plan for reenergizing the Liberian entrepreneurial spirit will be to leverage government procurement opportunities to give preference to Liberian-owned businesses in awarding government contracts for supply of goods and services. Payment guarantees will be offered to enable these businesses to access commercial bank financing for procurement actions above $250,000—effectively if commercial banks will lend the funds, government will pay directly to the banks the full sum of the contract amount on behalf of the borrower upon completion of the contract or delivery of the goods and services.
Liberty Party: 2011 Platform 12 | P a g e
Nevertheless, Liberty Party recognizes that the technical and managerial capacities to compete, enter into contracts, and complete delivery as per contract specifications are limited. In fact initial efforts to involve Liberian entrepreneurs in the rebuilding of our infrastructure have, in many instances, not gone down well. Many contractors were unable to read designs and technical supply specifications without close supervision or to restart projects all over again. And yet a significant portion of the much needed human capital, technical and business know-how, and access to private capital assets that can lead the economy into new directions reside with individuals in the Diaspora.
Additional measures to re-energize entrepreneurship will include partnership with the business community through the Liberia Chamber of Commerce, the Liberian Business Association, the Liberia Marketing Association, and other such associations to create business/microenterprise operators support facilities around the country and/or adding entrepreneurship training options to the curricula of public high schools. These facilities will provide training and technical support to Liberian-owned businesses to help develop the skills to succeed and stay in business. It will also help to improve competitive access to credit for those small businesses using the services.
Access to the government’s credit guarantee funds will be provided for banks and other financial institutions to make accessible medium and long-term financial services to Liberian entrepreneurs, including those returning home with ideas and enthusiasm but needing capital, to re-acquire a stake in their economy. The fund will include new legal instruments, such as a security deed, to enable lenders to confiscate and liquidate collaterals of bad debtors without going through a drawn-out foreclosure process.
The Liberian entrepreneur was a pillar of the Liberian society until the middle of the 20th century. The expansion of government as a result of the Open Door Policy drew many into the public sector, leaving a vacuum in the private sector which was filled by non-Liberians. Many of these non-Liberians established a home here with children born and attending school in Liberia. These children, by virtue of their race, cannot enjoy full rights of citizenship and must apply for permits to reside and work in Liberia annually.
Until that time that the Liberian people are prepared to publicly discuss and modify the relevant provisions on citizenship in our constitution, some measures need to be taken to correct this historic inequity. Furthermore, our laws prohibit the holding of dual citizenship. So those natural born Liberians and their children, who had to assume other nationalities during our civil war, are no longer considered as citizens of Liberia under the law. Many of these former citizens reside in the Liberian
Liberty Party: 2011 Platform 13 | P a g e
Diaspora. Our archaic citizenship laws will be reformed so that citizens who obtained citizenship in other countries during periods when the Liberian constitution was suspended would not have automatically lost their citizenship, with its attendant rights and privileges.
As a short term measure, a Liberty Party Government will propose and offer a new category of permanent residency of no less than 10 years, renewable in perpetuity, allowing right of ownership of real property in their own names and transfers to heirs and successors. This status will be granted without prejudice to any future rights that might be conferred through the amendment of our constitution and citizenship laws.
A Liberty Party Government will also propose and offer a new category of resident/work Permit Laws, granting residency and the authority to work to business owners for longer periods than are provided for under our current law. Depending on the nature and amount of the investment, non-Liberians will be granted resident/work permits for periods ranging between five to twenty years. And those non-Liberians who have lived in Liberia for more than twenty years will be grandfathered into the longer resident/work permit period, without regard to the nature and amount of investment. Goal: encourage substantial investments in the non-extractive industries thus creating additional employment opportunities for Liberians.
Our plan for Liberian businesses will significantly impact Liberia’s economic recovery by creating new businesses, increasing our national output, and putting our people to work. We will also experience an increase in confidence among Liberian entrepreneurs as they take their rightful place in their country and achieve personal success. When these measures are combined with fair compensation in government, we expect some of the best and brightest of our people to choose business ownership over government employment and thereby play a leading role in the running of our economy.
2.1.3 Building a More Diversified Economy
The Liberty Party Government will consider sound management of the Liberian economy as a duty. Our goal is to increase Liberia’s gross domestic product (GDP) to $2 billion by 2017, which means doubling our national output and achieving an average growth rate in excess of 8 per cent per year. Major components of this plan will include substantial investments in infrastructure, communications, and energy development, full resumption of production in the extractive industries, implementation of value-addition strategies for our agricultural, including logging, and mining products, and the broadening of our productive base.
Liberty Party: 2011 Platform 14 | P a g e
Attaining and sustaining high levels of economic growth will be challenging because our commodity-based export sector is highly vulnerable to the vagaries of the global market. A Liberty Party Government will use fiscal and business policy instruments to achieve high growth rates, mitigate adverse effects from the global economy, while retaining in sight the need to distribute more equitably the benefits of any economic growth. A summary of the key interventions include:
Attracting foreign direct investments into state-owned enterprises while retaining substantial domestic interest
Reactivating the Agriculture Cooperative & Development Bank and the National Housing & Savings Bank
Attracting more private capital into infrastructure development especially energy and communications; and the removal of all restrictions to new entrants to these markets
Improving liquidity and access to credit of the banking and finance sector by:
o opening space for greater private involvement in microfinance
o introduction of new measures to help lenders deal with delinquent accounts so that credit circulates more widely,
o doubling the credit guarantee scheme with priority given to investments in commercial agriculture
o supporting the insurance industry—including the National Social Security and Welfare Corporation, to introduce new (pilot) social insurance products while encouraging the industry to invest the proceeds from the premiums into productive local ventures
Leveraging public procurement to get more business into the hands of Liberians so that they have the means and the supportive environment to invest in productive enterprises
Better negotiations to link our extractive industries to the local economy through set asides and preferential treatment in subcontracting and supply for local businesses
These initiatives will lay the foundation for Liberia to operate a modern economy and for the infusion of privately-sourced capital to finance most of these projects. Off-loading of public enterprises will also stimulate the economy. This will be a costly undertaking; but we believe that Liberia will not be competitive in the global economy without such a modern production platform.
Liberia’s natural resource endowment in iron ore, timber, fertile land, and possibly crude oil are a blessing; we must never again allow them to turn into a curse. A Liberty Party Government will set up a task force by February 2012 to work with the
Liberty Party: 2011 Platform 15 | P a g e
Ministry of Finance Bureau of Concessions to engage all major existing concessionaires in the iron ore, timber, agricultural and rubber industries to provide full government support in ensuring that their projects are fully operational by the end of 2013. Though all existing contracts will be honored, those companies that cannot meet the terms of their contracts will be presented with the option of exiting the arrangement in order to give room to other interested parties.
A major shortcoming in managing our natural resources has been our failure to make them more valuable to our country by producing semi-finished or finished products. Another short-coming is the absence of set-asides and preferential treatment for subcontracting of Liberian-owned businesses/domestic suppliers, in the negotiation of mineral development and concession agreements, to build a more sustainable link to the local economy. This means that we derive less value by selling our resources for cheap, repurchase the finished products at higher prices, and fail to integrate other Liberian industries with these extractive industries.
At the same time, high operating costs due primarily to limited energy, communications, and road infrastructure and a small domestic market with low levels of income makes Liberia unattractive to private sector investment in manufacturing and processing. Therefore, a Liberty Party Government will engage investors and provide incentives to ensure that, where possible, Liberia produces processed products for local consumption and for export. By producing processed products we will create jobs, derive higher taxes from our products, and benefit local industries.
We will also adopt this approach to the things we import by making sure we support local industries that compete with imports and provide incentives for assembly and for building on the largely unrecorded trade across our land border. To accomplish this will entail modifications to the mandate and functions and a reorientation of the Ministry of Commerce and Industry—shifting primary emphasis from industry regulation to industry promotion. Appropriate proposals will be made to the Liberian National Legislature in the first year of our administration.
Another key component of Liberty Party’s economic plan is to develop a broader economic production platform. In this regard, the potential for significant medium term gains lies in commercial agriculture. This means providing incentives for other agro-industries to be added to our economy and for some existing industries to expand their production capacities. The objective is to make sure Liberia relies less on the extractive industries going forward. Key industries which we will provide industry-wide incentives for their development are rice production, food processing, fisheries, rubber processing, processing of coffee and cocoa products, and manufacturing.
Liberty Party: 2011 Platform 16 | P a g e
Liberia has ideal agro-climatic conditions for its traditional tree crops—rubber, oil palm, cocoa, coffee. Rubber accounts for over 90 percent of our current exports. From a net exporter of palm oil in the late 1980s, Liberia currently imports about 7,000 metric tons of edible oils.14 All palm oil mills were destroyed. Despite its viability as a major income-earner for rural communities, cocoa has never developed its full potential due to competition with rubber, historically low farmgate prices, and lack of attention as opportunities in extractive industries expanded.
As part of our economic diversification strategy, incentives will be provided for private investors to adopt and expand the successful out-grower model used in the rubber industry. Planting materials and technical advice will be provided for smaller producers who in turn will sell to the commercial plantations. Price stabilization measures will be negotiated and managed through the commercial plantations to maintain farmgate prices at an attractive level. Moreover, private buyers will be allowed to compete on the open market for produce. For cocoa and oil palm, the significant initial investment will be in the processing and packaging for exports. Investment in commercial plantations will be encouraged through industry-wide incentives for the procurement of production materials to establish the plantations.
While ongoing efforts, such as the proposed Smallholder Tree Crop Revitalization Project (STCRP) and similar projects, at the Ministry of Agriculture will continue to work closely with small scale producers for the rehabilitation of old stock and replanting of new stock, a Liberty Party Government will phase out of this form of donor-directed support reducing its presence in the sub-sector in favor of the private-sector led out-grower model. The Ministry of Agriculture will re-focus on policy setting, adaptive research, and training of producers/farmers.
2.1.4 Achieving Food Security
During the 14 years of our civil conflict, the economy and its already limited support infrastructure collapsed. This has led to widespread poverty that undermined food security in Liberia. Liberian farmers and our other rural residents are especially affected because of their reliance on their own production methods.
But our country’s food insecurity problem predates our civil war. Most of the food we consume is imported, including our staple rice. Our agricultural sector remained stunted even though this is the sector where the majority of our people make their livelihood. Liberty Party believes that the majority of the foods Liberians consume, particularly its staple, should be produced domestically. Investing in our agricultural sector will also create wealth for farmers and other agricultural workers.
14 World Bank, May 2010
Liberty Party: 2011 Platform 17 | P a g e
The main features of our agricultural and food security strategy will include:
i. Investing in research and the creation of an environment suitable to better land use consistent with its potential. The Land Capability Study by the FAO that was interrupted by the civil crisis will be resuscitated and completed.
ii. Upgrading extension services and technical assistance to support the revitalization of cooperatives; while working extensively with smallholders through these structures. The goal will be to give our people a fair chance to compete in agricultural input supply, produce buying, processing, and selling with minimal interference from government as a market incentive for increased agricultural production.
iii. Promoting crop diversification (i.e. grow more rice, potatoes, cassava, plantain, etc.) using value addition strategy for crops where we have a comparative advantage, especially in production and processing costs.
iv. Investing in the basic infrastructure vital to agricultural production.
v. Other industry-wide tax exemptions on newly acquired capital equipment and agricultural inputs
2.1.5 Investing in the Education of the Liberian People
Liberty Party is committed to providing sustained investment in education in order to unleash the potentials of our citizens because they are our most valuable resource. Our specific purpose of investing in education is to (1) help our citizens, irrespective of ethnicity or geography, to achieve their personal development goals, (2) foster national unity, and (3) meet the manpower needs for sustained and robust economic growth. Our vision is essential to bringing the benefits of our vast natural resources to each and every Liberian.
Unleashing our citizens’ potentials to participate meaningfully in the economy will go beyond meeting the market demand for skills. Liberia also needs scale-neutral, rather than insular, home-grown innovations for wealth creation and solutions for local problems that are by and large impervious to global economic down swings. For this reason, our education system will treat liberal arts training and vocational/technical training as two sides of the same coin—the former as essential for determining purpose and the latter as a means of achieving that purpose.
Today a good quality education remains out of the reach of many Liberian children and, as a result, Liberia is one of the few countries where the older generation is better educated than their children. Less than half (42 percent) of Liberian children
Liberty Party: 2011 Platform 18 | P a g e
who remain in school and finish meet minimum standards; essentially making them unable to successfully compete for jobs.
Liberty Party recognizes well-trained and motivated teachers, a curriculum which specifies standards/requirements and learning targets students have to achieve, textbooks aligned with such a curriculum, national assessments for learning improvements, engaged and responsible local school leadership, and adequate as well as conducive school facilities as the necessary and critical pieces of the puzzle that result in quality education. A Liberty Party Government will make substantial investments in teacher education, salaries, housing, and other benefits such as health insurance and retirement as a means of deploying well-trained and motivated teachers in every classroom throughout Liberia.
A Liberty Party Government will also make good quality education attainable by decentralizing the education system over a period of six years to bring education decision-making as close as possible to the local people as a means of securing their buy-in and ensuring they have a say about the quality of education their children get. Decentralization will also foster accountability because involved citizens understand the impact of education on their children and will therefore do everything to ensure that local and national resources are used wisely for the benefit of their children.
A Liberty Party Government will explore and apply every workable strategy for overcoming barriers to geographic and gender equity. Eliminating barriers—geographic or gender—to equity is important because unleashing the potentials of our citizens involves bringing girls, the poor, vulnerable children, and neglected rural residents and children to school. Moreover, inequity in access to jobs and better income as well as basic services has been a significant cause of social instability15.
Liberty Party’s post-secondary education initiatives will focus on investing in and upgrading the nation’s existing public colleges/universities, vocational/technical schools, and establishing additional regional centrally located vocational/technical programs for training the nation’s leaders, educators, entrepreneurs, doctors, scientists, engineers, technicians, etc. A two-year remediation for improving reading, writing, and numeracy skills will be initiated to prepare for post-secondary education and training.
15 World Bank Education For All/Fast Track Initiative; Liberia: Appraisal of the Education Sector Plan (2010-2020)
Liberty Party: 2011 Platform 19 | P a g e
A Liberty Party Government will initiate a national service as part of graduation requirements at the K-12 and post-secondary level in order to transform students’/citizens’ outlook of their country and imbue a stronger sense to connectedness and responsibility to the country.
Under the Unity Party government’s Education Sector Plan (ESP), the Ministry of Education intends to target resources geographically, giving priority to those communities with insufficient access to primary schools. New funding is expected to be provided by the government to support school construction in remote and hard-to-reach areas using non-traditional approaches such as community driven development. This plan needs to be reviewed to take into consideration population clusters and our ability to support these newly constructed schools.
Under the ESP, the Unity Party government plans to spend on average US$38 per student per year through 2015—61 % of which will go to education infrastructure development and the balance 39% to recurrent costs. The larger share will go to the primary school level—the implication being to continue to rely on private, mission, and community schools to provide most of our junior and senior high educational opportunities. This strategy, without generous school subsidies, will ensure that the cost of schooling remains beyond the reach of most families at those levels where the dropout rates are already the highest.
Under our Revised-ESP (R-ESP), The Liberty Party government will:
increase expenditure on the creation of more alternative paths to regular school attendance and on the introduction of information technology (computers and internet) in public schools,
increase subsidy to mission and community schools to mitigate possible increases in tuition and to increase female enrollment and completion rates,
increase per capita expenditure on teacher development and management, and
retain the level of investment in education infrastructure rehabilitation and development at 61% of total education sector funding.
These strategic shifts will increase the projected financing gap (currently estimated at $24 million per year) for our R-ESP; and the effect will be felt starting 2013 when the new and expanded programs begin to take in unemployed youths, females, more and better quality teachers, and adults seeking literacy and numeracy opportunities. Current donor commitments 2010-2013 average about $35 million per year and are not likely to increase before 2013.16
Liberty Party: 2011 Platform 20 | P a g e
To address the anticipated financing gap, a Liberty Party Government will increase its contribution to the R-ESP from an average of US$40 to US$45 million per year, require county administrations to make a contribution from County Development Fund(s) to specific planned education infrastructure development activities of their choice, and challenge partners to invest more through a strengthened sector and donor coordination team.
Moreover, the private sector (for profit and non-profit) will be encouraged to invest in the establishment of more technical and vocational education training (TVET); and literacy and numeracy opportunities with generous support through government and concessions-funded scholarships for students, tax exemptions on newly acquired capital and training equipment, and potential access to competitive grants. The following table summarizes the main thrust of Liberty Party education policies at each level.
Liberty Party Adjustments to the Education Sector Plan (ESP)
94% – 108%
Quality and crowdedness
Maintain current level of investment in development
Junior High School
Declining (from 45%)
Low female completion
Maintain current level of investment in development; scholarships and subsidies to boost female completion
Senior High School
Low completion rates; poor college readiness
Maintain current level of investment in development; programs to boost completion; alternative paths to college education; post-graduation college readiness in English and Math
In these regards, the proposed National Commission for Technical and Vocational Education and Training (NACTVET) will be scrapped. Liberia does not need another commission. The institutional support arrangement will be a TVET Fund with independent board oversight—comprised of government, donors, and concessions and NGO representatives, and a small secretariat. The TVET Fund will be initially
Liberty Party: 2011 Platform 21 | P a g e
capitalized by US$1 million from government with additional contributions coming through future mineral development agreements, and matching contributions from donors.
The TVET Fund will award competitive capital grants and manage related scholarship programs through transparent and competitive processes. Recipients will be required to meet and sustain minimum standards in facilities and educational staff. The Fund will also advocate for and support licensing and certification standards—requiring a minimum number of graduates of each grant receiving institution to pass licensing and certification requirements for continuing access to funding once those arrangements are in place.
Expenditure will remain the same at the tertiary level. The strategy will be to create the alternative paths listed above and focus on improving the quality of college-level education. The focus will also shift to college readiness through 9-month advanced English and Math courses that prepare high school graduates to sit and succeed in the college entrance exams. Remedial programs will be phased out at public universities and the potential savings invested in college readiness programs. Projected cost allocations for the R-ESP under a Liberty Party Government compared to the ESP of the Unity Party Government are as follows:
Revision to Education Sector Plan Expenditure
Fiscal/Budget Year (in US$ millions)
2017 Total R-ESP COST (Liberty Party) 116.5 145.0 180.0 222.5 257.5 292.5 Total ESP (Unity Party) 107.0 120.3 135.9 159.3 173.3 187.3
Proposed Recurrent Cost
Proposed Development Cost
2.1.6 Investing in Robust Preventive Healthcare System/Controlling HIV/AIDS
Liberians can live a better and healthier life in our time. But that possibility is constrained by the fact that 42 % of in-patient deaths and 38 % of outpatient
Liberty Party: 2011 Platform 22 | P a g e
attendance are attributable to malaria.17 In 2010, 42 % of our children under-five years old were chronically malnourished due to poverty conditions.18 Undernourishment contributed to their inability to thrive and to succeed in school. One of every three women “borning baby” does not receive post-natal care. And one out of every three teenage girls becomes pregnant and will have children before she is ready to be a responsible mother.19 Diseases that can be easily cured—Malaria, diarrhea, respiratory infection, and measles—are killing us. Diseases like tuberculosis, which were practically eradicated from our country, are once again causes of major concern in our healthcare system.
And yet between 2007 and 2008 the Unity Party Government reports that US$103,496,421 was spent by the donors, the government, and out-of-pocket on healthcare.20 But the Unity Party Government also reports that “wastage and use of resources for purposes other than they were intended” or corruption was a major impediment to improving the Liberian people’s health, along with shortage of skilled workers and healthcare professionals, and a costly hospital component (38% of government funds) when most of the disease burden can be averted with preventive measures. An enormous amount of energy is spent on organizing health and welfare workshops to formulate policies and strategies, and very little is spent implementing them.
Of the 293 public health facilities prior to the war, 242 were looted. In 2008, nearly half of the people—44% (66 % in rural areas) had to travel more than one mile to reach a health service delivery point. The spread of public health facilities has not been fast enough. In fact, as in the case of education, the private sector has done more to establish facilities than the Unity Party Government—the number of functional government facilities increased by only 24% as the table below shows; while private health facilities increased by 258 % between 2006 and 2010.
Liberty Party embraces the broader definition of health, which focuses government programs on the true causes of ill health such as poverty, poor nutrition, inadequate housing, and unsafe drinking water, among others. This approach, to health and welfare service delivery, results in global as well as individual outcomes.
17 2009 Malaria Indicator Survey
18 2010 Comprehensive Food Security and Nutrition Survey
19 National Health and Social Welfare Policy and Plan, May 2011
20 National Health Accounts Report, MOHSW, 2009
Liberty Party: 2011 Platform 23 | P a g e
We believe that preventive health measures and improved sanitation are less costly and more effective than their curative counterparts. We will, therefore, place emphasis on improving preventive measures as well as educating the people about preventive measures they can take through the community health service delivery points—which will include mobile clinics.
Immediately upon taking office the Liberty Party Government will:
Invest in mobile clinics—purchase vans, equip each with medical equipment, and staff each with a physician assistant, a nurse and a lab technician. This will be a permanent part of our measures to improve the health of our people. The mobile clinics will be charged with providing basic medical care to combat preventable ailments such as malaria, diarrheal diseases, dressings for wounds, monitoring rural pregnant women and young children for anemia, performing antenatal examinations, monitoring and referral of pregnant women with antenatal problems, and providing basic health, sanitation and nutrition education.
As a medium term measure, include the priority repair and construction of health facilities across the country. Our goal is to ensure that every Liberian lives as close to a health post as possible or can be reached by mobile clinics and are within one mile of a service delivery point during the week.
Increase our healthcare budget and government contributions from the current level of 8 to 9 % of the national budget to 10 %, 12%, 14%, and 16% in fiscal years 2013, 2014, 2015, and 2016 respectively—effectively moving closer to the percentages agreed in the Abuja Framework. These increases will go primarily towards rehabilitation and upgrading of community health centers—refurbishing, providing essential drugs and staffing of rural health posts every year and mobile units. Moreover, in advance of a wider restructuring of the civil service pay and grade package, a Liberty Party Government will introduce a special hardship allowance for rural-based workers in the healthcare delivery system.
Capitalize the Welfare Fund of the National Social Security and Welfare Corporation with US$1 million with the view of introducing contributory community-based micro-insurance schemes, in partnership with communities and the private sector, to mitigate the risk of death, ill-health, and accident to the large numbers of individuals in the informal sector and for the elderly. A key goal will be to transform out-of-pocket expenses for healthcare into affordable premium payments.
Moreover, a Liberty Party Government will review and re-assess the rationale and costing of services provided by the John F. Kennedy Medical Center and regional hospitals to evolve the most efficient and cost-effective way of operating
Liberty Party: 2011 Platform 24 | P a g e
those facilities. A Liberty Party Government will not continue the practice of spending more on a few facilities than on all other health services and programs combined. On the contrary, deliberate efforts will be made to limit government expansion into hospital-based curative care to create space for greater private sector participation.
Poverty, illiteracy, and the status of women in our society are factors which contribute to the spread of HIV/AIDS. However, the key conditions that play critical roles in the spread of HIV/AIDS in Liberia today include low awareness of how HIV is spread, denial of one’s HIV/AIDS status, and mobility of the population, as a result of years of war. A Liberty Party Government will prioritize public education and sensitization campaigns on HIV/AIDS and its potential impact on Liberia’s recovery. In partnership with the civil society, non-governmental organizations, and the private sector effort will be made to arrest and reduce the prevalence rate.
2.1.7 Building Decent and Peaceful Homes and Communities to Live in
Like sanitary conditions, poor housing has a negative impact on the health outcomes of our people. Evidence suggests there is also a clear linkage between decent housing and school performance of children. But to improve housing and the community environment also requires city planning and management of the way our cities and towns grow.
A Liberty Party Government will seek the assistance of our international partners to develop five-year rolling urban development plans for every municipality by 2014. The purpose of the plan will be to guide the functional development of our communities and to serve as the basis for enforcement of zoning laws. The rolling plans will identify not only the aspirations of the community residents but will also include the assets, requisite capacity development needs, and the financing mechanisms to ensure that the plans are implemented.
The two biggest constraints to decent home ownership in Liberia are the cost of building materials and availability of land. As a result, poorly constructed homes and unplanned informal settlements are emerging throughout the landscape. Partly because of their unplanned growth on peripheral land, communities lack basic services and acceptable levels of security.
A Liberty Party Government will invest in the layout for future development of communities throughout the country through a targeted sites—and—services program. The program will offer community residents and landowners the opportunity to participate and have a say in the development of water systems, electricity, telephone lines, roads, and schools in their areas in exchange for modest adjustments in the real estate tax rates and a voluntary local area development fee.
Liberty Party: 2011 Platform 25 | P a g e
2.1.8 Investing in Infrastructure to Support our Development
Liberia’s development aspirations will not be met unless we first develop the appropriate infrastructure. Adequate and reliable energy supply, a network of roads and bridges that connects all parts of the country; a communication network that makes for easy local and international communication and transfer of information; public water supply and sewerage systems that support a healthy workforce; and a trained workforce to maintain these infrastructures are all required to grow our economy and move us into the 21st century.
The existing infrastructure is not only inadequate, it is also in disrepair: most of the country is without light; public water supply and sewerage facilities are practically non-existent, and most of the country’s approximately 6,400 miles of roads, only 6% of which are paved, are impassable during the six months of rain every year.
A Liberty Party Government will invest in our country’s infrastructure in order to grow our economy and connect our people. Building all weather roads and investing in reliable energy supplies throughout the country will not only improve our people’s quality of life but will also be an incentive for businesses to locate outside of Monrovia and thereby grow our economy. This will also bring much needed development to the interior of our country.
Liberty Party is convinced that our economy will never realize its potential until we solve our energy problem. We will, therefore, invest in different sources of energy supply, including solar and hydro electric, in order to provide affordable and reliable power supply to the whole country. Our strategy for developing the energy sector will focus on the entire country, avoiding the failed policy of equating Monrovia to Liberia. Therefore, while every effort will be made to invest in the rehabilitation/development of the Monrovia electrical grid, including the Mt. Coffee hydro and the Bushord Island thermal plants, we will do so as part of a larger plan to electrify the whole country.
For our road network, we will prioritize rehabilitating the existing roads to make them vehicle-worthy all year round. For the medium and long term, we will build new roads to connect the many parts of our country that are still isolated from the rest of the country. Our road development plan will be informed by a review of all existing transportation plans.
We will also review the institutional framework under which our road network is developed and managed. The current framework under which the technical responsibilities for the development of our road network – planning, designing, construction and maintenance – are handled by one agency of government (Ministry of Public Works), and the policy, regulation and enforcement
Liberty Party: 2011 Platform 26 | P a g e
responsibilities are handled by a different agency of government (Ministry of Transport), does not promote efficiency, especially in the use of the country’s limited technical manpower resource. We will review the operation and responsibilities of these two ministries with the view of combining them in order to bring under one roof all the resources and disciplines related to the planning, development, maintenance, and regulation of our road network.
For public water supply and sanitation, we will restore services to the urban centers, including Monrovia and the county capitals, by prioritizing the rehabilitation the existing facilities. Our rural water supply and sanitation program will be designed to standardize the technology and equipment employed, and attention will be given to ensuring application of appropriate technologies is in each case. The towns and villages to benefit from the program will be prioritized based on an evaluation of their water supply and sanitation needs.
Special attention will be given to strengthening the capacity of those agencies of government that have responsibility for the supervision of our infrastructure development projects in order to expedite implementation of the projects. We will aggressively rebuild our engineering and construction capacity through seminars and workshops but also by requiring foreign engineering and construction firms that do business in the country to partner with Liberian firms.
The cell phone industry has made significant inroads in connecting our people but much still needs to be done to bring our country fully into the information age. We need to provide, for example, wider access to the internet, and to develop our IT sector to support easy information sharing and a more efficient management system. We will work with the industry to enhance service and improve the regulatory environment in order to enhance our business environment, information transfer, and communication. We are committed to quickly building the IT platform necessary to enable us integrate IT into government’s management and control functions.
2.2 To Reform the Government-Making the Government Work for The People
2.2.1 Fighting Corruption
Corruption is a menace–generally considered the root cause of our under development. Corruption in Liberia takes various forms including:
Conflict of Interest: Conflict of interest as a form of corruption is pervasive in Liberia. Public officials are routinely involved in commercial enterprises that do business with government, and government officials direct government business to their companies thereby depriving a competitive environment.
Liberty Party: 2011 Platform 27 | P a g e
Nepotism: Nepotism is prevalent in our society. Government officials routinely hire their relatives and friends in Government positions thereby depriving the Government of hiring qualified people on a competitive basis.
Formation of Bogus Companies: The practice of government officials forming bogus companies that undertake contracts with the government is another way in which corruption is perpetuated in our country. In most instances, these bogus companies do not complete projects. They do not have expansionary effect on the economy because in most instances they take the money and “run”. They also do not pay taxes thereby depriving the Government of needed revenue for socio-economic development.
The lack of accounting systems and controls in Government Ministries and Agencies to ensure the integrity of the financial transactions is one reason for corruption in our country. Government officials (political appointees) are involved in routine financial transactions like signing checks and vouchers, limiting their abilities to provide the oversight and strategic guidance in the management of their entities.
About 63 percent of government’s expenditure is procurement which involves political appointees. Political appointees’ involvement in the procurement process undermines accountability and transparency. This is one reason why audit report recommendations are not being implemented. In most cases political appointees are implicated in the audits by virtue of their involvement in routine financial transactions.
Finally, the fight against corruption has been ineffective partly because there is no code to guide the conduct of public officials, especially those involved in financial transactions.
A Liberty Party Government will take a multi-pronged approach to fighting corruption because corruption undermines our peace and prosperity by limiting justice and equitable growth, and destroying our economic potentials. Corruption cannot be reduced until we develop the will to prosecute offenders, irrespective of status in the community. A Liberty Party Government will, therefore, address the issue of corruption by the example of the leadership that we offer the Liberian people, by indiscriminately enforcing the law, and by comprehensive reform of our public financial management system.
Liberty Party recognizes that the worst form of corruption does not begin with the lower level civil servant, but is inherent in our institutional structures and the policy processes of government. Liberty realizes that its determination to fight corruption will be judged by reference to its preparedness to govern within the framework of the rule of law, ensuring transparency, accountability, responsiveness, among other ideals. The president’s use of extensive appointment
Liberty Party: 2011 Platform 28 | P a g e
power availed by law and custom, shall have due regard to the qualification and character of appointees, weighing against relationship and status—all indicating the will to fight corruption.
Corruption is endemic to Liberian governance and cannot be reduced to a desirable level without addressing poverty, public sector reform, and the adoption of new habits and values. It will begin with giving more power to our local communities.
The worst form of corruption is breaking the law to suit the need of a particular individual or group of people. This, we recognize, damages the spirit of the majority of Liberians and is one of the principal reasons why Liberia has failed. We have continuously ignored the consequences of our bad laws, failed policies, and terrible actions. Corruption is reacted to differently, if committed by the privileged, as opposed to when it is committed by the disadvantaged. This is a practice that Liberty commits to ending.
Liberty Party believes that corruption in Liberia starts with indiscipline—our unwillingness to follow procedures, to stand in line, to distribute anything equally, for example. A political system based on patronage reinforces it. Impunity sustains it. Our struggles against corruption, therefore, must focus on improving our value system. In the short-term, we will promote the value of discipline and show its positive impacts on our well-being.
The Liberty Party Government will begin tackling corruption in central government, immediately after inauguration by:
i. Providing livable wages for civil servants and public officials.
ii. Taking immediate steps to develop a comprehensive Code of Conduct for all civil servants, presidential appointees, and elected public officials, with clear gratuity and conflict of interest provisions.
iii. Strengthening the Justice Ministry by recruiting career prosecutors
iv. Supporting the full deployment and utilization of the Integrated Financial Management and Information System (IFMIS) which is currently being implemented.
v. Decentralizing the procurement functions of the General Services Agency and rationalizing its other functions.
vi. Establishing, equipping, and staffing an autonomous Internal Revenue Authority
Liberty Party: 2011 Platform 29 | P a g e
vii. Fully supporting the work of the General Auditing Commission to ensure that audit recommendations are implemented timely and impartially.
viii. Working with the National Legislature to amend the Act creating the Liberia Anti-corruption Commission, transferring the Commission to the Ministry of Justice as a department of the Ministry, so that the Anti-corruption Department can avail itself of the capacity that would have been created at the Ministry of Justice.
2.2.2 Transforming the Presidency to Serve the People
The Presidency contributes to many of the ills and challenges facing our country. Over the years, the presidency has managed to take unto itself powers that have made it a de facto monarchy. It has made the National Legislature and Judiciary paper tigers; conditioned local government to make the president its most important constituent instead of the local people it is supposed to serve; and made the civil servants a tool to be used to promote the president’s political ambition, among others. And those who have occupied the office over the years have created such a mystique around the office that many of our people, particularly those of the older generations, tend to think even today that it is sacrilegious to question the president or even suggest that he/she is wrong. This state of affairs hinders the maturing of our democracy and stifles national development.
A Liberty Party Government will reform the presidency in order to create space for the maturing of our democracy. Our efforts will be guided by our desire to make the presidency more accountable to the people; increase the participation of the Liberian people in the management of their country, whether local or national; and promote the responsible but unhindered exercise of the rights guaranteed under our constitution. We will:
i. Seek legislative actions to clarify those areas of our laws that have been or could be exploited to increase the powers of the presidency
ii. Invest in civic education as a way of empowering our people to freely exercise their rights and powers under our constitution
iii. Seek for the enacting of new legislations that would prevent the president from using the bureaucracy of the government as an extension of his/her political party
iv. Decentralize our governance structure to shift the allegiance of local leaders from the president to the people they serve and to promote innovation at the local level.
Liberty Party: 2011 Platform 30 | P a g e
2.2.3 Amending those Provisions of our Constitution that Inhibit Empowerment
In addition to the amendments mentioned above/below, a Liberty Party Government will work with the legislature to submit to the people a referendum to amend the Constitution of Liberia in order to reduce the term of the Presidency from six years to four years, while retaining the provision that limits the President to two terms. This amendment would also affect the terms of our legislators. In the interest of developing capacity, we will also seek to repeal the Constitutional provision, the “financial warrant”, which requires the President to approve of all public expenditures, the budgetary law notwithstanding, prior to the disbursement of funds from the public treasury.
2.2.4 Empowering the People Through Decentralizing the Government
One of the major reasons for our country’s underdevelopment has to be our failure to create a system of governance whereby those who serve in the public’s interest are directly accountable and enjoy the privilege of serving subject to the will of the people they serve. Our highly centralized governance structure creates a chasm between the people and those who serve them, one in many cases very difficult to traverse. In the case of infrastructural development and management, for example, whether the head of the power company (LEC) or the water cooperation (LWSC) in the counties continue to serve in his/her position depends very little on whether the people they serve in the counties are pleased with their performances but all to do with what their bosses in Monrovia think. The same can be said of the heads of the various government ministries in the counties, including the Ministry of Public Works in the case of infrastructural development and management.
Politically, the county administrator–the superintendent–can expect to keep his/her position as long as he/she enjoys the confidence of the President sitting in Monrovia, whether or not he/she enjoys the confidence of the people in the county. Of course, theoretically the President’s confidence in his/her local officials is supposed to be informed by the wishes of the people. However, to ascertain those wishes the President will need to traverse the chasm created by our governance structure to consult directly with the people since in many cases the people’s representatives in the national legislature hardly consult with them and therefore know very little of their wishes.
The Unity Party Administration has not made a real effort to deal with the problem of the centralization of economic and political powers after being in power for more than five years. Under the guise of financial constraints, even the few local leaders who are to be elected under the existing governance structure have not been elected during the last five years, and the President is now appointing City Majors, contrary to international best practice.
Liberty Party: 2011 Platform 31 | P a g e
In her 2010 Annual Message, the President alluded to the Administration’s County Development Fund Program as an example of the government’s effort to empower local authority. Under the program, each county is given and charged with the responsibility of managing certain amount of funds annually for development projects in the county. But when problems arose in the implementation of the program, the President quickly reverted to the centralized practice she is used to by giving management responsibility of the funds to the Ministry of Internal Affairs instead of strengthening the county authorities to better manage the funds.
Liberty Party believes that real and sustainable development will only come to our country when our people at the local level are empowered to manage their own affairs and resources. We are committed to doing all we can to ensure we create a structure that will give them such power.
But there is another reason why a credible vision for our country must include a firm commitment to decentralize the government. Decentralization is the one sure means of enlarging our pool of qualified and experienced potential national leaders and government officials. The historical practice of recycling a few government officials is primarily due to the very small size of that pool.
A credible vision for developing Liberia must therefore include putting in place policies and laws that will enable our citizens throughout the length and breadth of the country to acquire the skills and experience necessary for national service at any level of our government. They must be able to qualify themselves right where they live without having to first travel to and live in Monrovia. Each of our county education officers, for example, must have such responsibilities and afforded such opportunities that will qualify him/her to be the Minister of Education of our country. We must institute a governance structure that will afford our national legislators, for example, the opportunity to have their maiden legislative experience in their county councils/assemblies. With this larger pool of qualified and experienced public servants, our search for individuals to serve in our national government will extend beyond Monrovia and the small clique of individuals who have had the advantage of using the country’s resources and their political connections to qualify themselves. This will create the competition we need in order to realize the full potential of our public servants.
This is why a Liberty Party Government will be unequivocal about its commitment to decentralize our government. But we will do so responsibly and expeditious, being careful that we do not simply transfer the inefficiencies and problems of our centralized government to the local level.
We realize that there are real and serious challenges to be overcome in order to ensure that our local government institutions have the structure that will support accountability and transparency, and the wherewithal to support that structure.
Liberty Party: 2011 Platform 32 | P a g e
But these challenges cannot be the excuse for perpetuating a failed system. In this regard, we are committed to first upholding our constitution by holding those local elections that are called for by law. We will quickly devolve to local authorities those responsibilities that the current constitution allows and work with them to strengthen their capacity to manage those responsibilities. Next, we will work with the national legislature to address those ones that require amendment of our constitution, including the election of local leaders who are currently appointed by the president. Our ultimate goal will be to empower our local people to become a major stakeholder and active participant in the making of decisions that affect their lives but to do so through a predictable, transparent, orderly and sustainable system.
2.2.5 Realigning the Government for Better Service
Liberia is a country that is home to 3.5 million people. Yet, the size of its government is comparable to some of the world’s large democracies. The country, for example, has twenty (20) ministries each headed by a minister. Additionally, there are three Ministers of State (Minister of State for Presidential Affairs, Minister of State for Legislative Affairs/Legal Counsel and Minister of State for Economic Affairs). Whatever the reason for the creation of these many ministries, the truth is that Liberia’s government sector is just too large and bureaucratic, particularly so when each ministry is far removed from the people.
The purpose and mission of any government is to provide premium services to its people effectively and timely. As Kofi Anna put it, “Good governance is perhaps the single most important factor in eradicating poverty and promoting development.” Bureaucracy as we know it in our government today is undermining our economic prosperity and national development, particularly when every layer of the bureaucracy is bribe-driven.
In 2008, the Sirleaf Administration developed the Civil Servant Reform Strategy for 2008-2011, under the banner “Small Government, Better Service.” The Administration’s strategy identified “six key orientations”:
Restructuring and Right-sizing
Pay and Pension Reforms
Enhancing Service Delivery
Human Resources Management
Leadership Development; and
Good on paper, but the lack of action rendered the strategy inconsequential. Liberty Party believes that smart government produces better services; and that increasing the size of government to accommodate political appointees is counter to “Small
Liberty Party: 2011 Platform 33 | P a g e
Government, Better Service” Strategy. While a Liberty Party Administration’s goal will include promoting the economic and social well-being of all Liberians, it does not believe that expanding the size of government is the right approach. Rather, our administration will champion the concept of small government through realigned and e-government. This will allow government at all levels to focus on becoming more efficient and effective, facilitating public service delivery efficiently, and with fiscal soundness.
Liberty Party recognizes that successfully developing an e-government system as part of government realignment will require all the right variables to be in place, including infrastructure, trained workforce, funding, etc. Hence, a Liberty Party Administration will develop a three-phase approach for the program. First, we will restructure the government; second, we will invest in development of reliable infrastructure to accommodate our e-government transition Initiative (ETI). Finally, we will integrate information and communication technologies into government processes.
2.2.6 Institutionalizing/Promoting Democracy and Elections
Liberia has had 49 presidential elections since 1847. Virtually all of these elections have been marred by some sort of election malpractice which led to opposition protests. A few of those elections are conspicuous in terms of their aftermath; namely, the 1927 presidential elections which were labeled the “most fraudulent election” ever recorded in world history; and the 1985 general and presidential elections whose results eventually led to our civil war. The 1997 and 2005 elections also received some sort of protests.
But there is nothing more important in a democracy for securing the peace and promoting harmony than elections. They represent the society’s safety valve through which citizens relieve pressures of discontent, or express confidence in their leaders. No government can successfully attend to the matters of state as long as its legitimacy remains in question. And while legitimacy obtained through legal means (the courts) will allow a government to stand, it is really its moral legitimacy, which it derives from the people’s perception of how it obtained state powers, that will enable it to fulfill its role. That is why elections are so important. Done poorly, they become a gateway to chaos, disharmony, strife, and a waste of resources; done well, they lead to peace which then enables us to focus on the building of a nation.
We have made some progress in managing our elections, but much still remains to be done. Today,
i. The National Elections Commission (NEC) has not demonstrated the level of independence and objectivity that will inspire the confidence of the Liberian
Liberty Party: 2011 Platform 34 | P a g e
people; it has not successfully resisted the temptation to be partisan in the discharge of its duties.
ii. The poor road conditions and the lack of roads in many parts of the country disenfranchise many of our people.
iii. Voters education is grossly inadequate
iv. Appointed local leaders, due to overt or covert pressure from their benefactor, continue to intimidate the electorate.
In order to strengthen our electoral system and mature our democracy, a Liberty Party Government will:
I. Reconstitute the NEC in consultation with all political parties. Our goal will be to make the Commission truly independent.
II. Promote the creation of Special Election Courts (SEC) that will have the power to investigate and adjudicate complaints of fraud, intimidation, or instances of violence. Their independence and autonomy will be protected by law.
III. Promote the enactment of Campaign Finance Reform (CFR) to make it easy to trace sources of campaign funds. The goal will be to ensure that state and foreign funds are not used for political campaigns. This will ensure that the government’s coffers do not become an extension of the incumbent’s political party’s, and that our elections are not influenced by foreign interests.
2.3 To Reconcile the People, Establish Justice, and Promote Sustainable Peace
2.3.1 Promoting National Reconciliation
After fourteen years of a bitter civil war and more than a century of economic apartheid, our challenge today, as a people, is how best to pursue reconciliation in order to build a one, united nation. The Accra Peace Accord which brought an end to our civil crisis provided for the establishment of a Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) as a transitional mechanism that would provide a bridge between our deeply divided and atrocious past and a future founded on the recognition of human rights, democracy and peaceful coexistence. Unfortunately, the Unity Party Government chose to ignore the work and recommendations of the Commission. As we go into these elections, the Commission’s report is collecting dust in the President’s office. As a result, the government has nothing it can call a reconciliation program after almost six years; the wounds of our national tragedy are left to fester.
Liberty Party believes that to achieve lasting domestic peace we must first achieve true national reconciliation. True reconciliation will entail a series of coordinated interventions by the government and by the people, at the national and local levels.
Liberty Party: 2011 Platform 35 | P a g e
It will evolve only by the admission of wrongs committed, with full disclosure of the truth. That process will need to be undergirded by sound and well-balanced national policies and supported by a national leadership that has the moral and political integrity to implement these policies. True national reconciliation will require a commitment from each of us to move ahead.
In addition to reconciliation necessitated by the violence that engulfed our country, we must also reconcile our economic divides and our ethnic differences. We must accept our religious and political differences as a pluralist society and learn to tolerate views to which we do not subscribe. We must focus on those things that unite rather than those that divide us.
Because Liberty Party believes national reconciliation is crucial to our country’s future, a Liberty Party Government will make reconciliation a cornerstone of its national agenda. The process will be pursued over a period beginning as soon as the Liberty Party Government takes office, and continuing with dedication over the long-term. We will give priority to bringing closure to the work of the TRC. We will review the Commission’s report and take advantage of its palava hut provision. The ultimate goal of a Liberty Party Government will be to have a genuinely reconciled, democratic Liberia where everyone, irrespective of age, sex, gender, ethnicity, tribe, education, religion, or political belief and affiliation, will live in peace and be treated equally. We will memorialize and honor our war dead through National Remembrance Symbols, and develop a “Student Service Corps” program to promote national service.
Our national reconciliation policy shall be based on the following principles and core values:
i. The Rule of Law
ii. Respect for the individual
iii. Civic engagement and empowerment
iv. Political and religious tolerance
vi. Opportunities for all
vii. Social harmony and stability
In terms of programs, the highlights of a Liberty Party Government’s national reconciliation agenda will include the following:
2.3.2 Completing the Security Sector Reform
We believe in the rule of law, the openness of government and respect for human rights. Freedom from fear is more than the absence of war. It requires that our national police, immigration, and custom officers, city police, and other enforcers of
Liberty Party: 2011 Platform 36 | P a g e
domestic security be well trained to enforce our laws while at the same time respecting the civil liberties and human rights of our citizens.
A Liberty Party Government will actively solicit the assistance of the international community, and cooperate with it, to continue and complete the reform and training of the re-organized Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL) and the Liberia National Police (LNP). We anticipate the need for a continuing partnership in the development of the AFL while recognizing the need to transform international assistance from peacekeeping to peace building and to re-building of our governing institutions.
The large number of former combatants, without productive engagement, continues to be a potential source of instability. A Liberty Party Government intends to draw former combatants into the unarmed units of the AFL to participate in the labor-based reconstruction of our infrastructure, to upgrade their skills through technical and vocational opportunities, and to instill discipline and build a sense of civic responsibility.
2.3.3 Promoting International Peace and Development
Ensuring domestic and regional peace will be the major foreign policy objective of a Liberty Party Government. Peace within Liberia and in our region is a pre-condition to progress in promoting the general welfare of our people. The concept of reciprocity as it relates to the establishment of diplomatic missions and the appointment of ambassadors is to be weighed against the economic and financial returns for a small country devastated by years of war.
Our diplomatic missions will be structured and deployed to meet our strategic objectives of promoting peace, attracting international aid and investment, and promoting trade. In this respect, the Liberian Foreign Service will be overhauled to attract professionals into the Service and to improve cost-effectiveness.
As a priority upon taking office, a Liberty Party Government will vigorously pursue rapprochement with the Governments of Sierra Leone and Guinea. In La Cote d’Ivoire, our efforts will support on-going initiatives of the African Union, ECOWAS, and the UN to stabilize and reunify that country. Peace in neighboring countries means a stable region, and will open up opportunities for trade and business and the resumption of regional development in the Mano River sub-region.
Further afield, a Liberty Party Government will constructively engage our friends in the African Union, and become a true partner of the New Partnership for Africa Development (NEPAD). We will not only allow, but also will actively encourage the concept of peer review with regard to economic governance, respect for human rights, and the rule of law.
Liberty Party: 2011 Platform 37 | P a g e
Liberty Party believes that maintaining a dignified national image within the community of nations means improving and maintaining cordial relationships with other countries, and establishing a unique Liberian identity. Liberia has become an object of concern with regard to some of the major issues on the global agenda such as: controlling violence (arms control, terrorism); addressing intra-state and inter-state conflicts; addressing international public health crises, such as HIV/AIDS; international economic issues, including not only trade matters, but also the implications of the widening gap between poverty and affluence in our global community; managing natural resources—environmental issues; plight of refugees and internally displaced persons; and, the list goes on.
Our relationship with our traditional friends—the United States of America and the European Union countries—will not simply be improved, but will be taken to a new level of cooperation under a Liberty Party Government. We will develop a new strategic framework to set forth the rationale for reformed, national-owned development assistance, while dealing with the twin challenges of democratic governance and globalization. We will show that the Liberty Party Government represents the dawning of a new day in Liberia; we will make our actions consistent with our pronouncements, and we will ensure that our pronouncements are based on the rule of law, democratic and participatory governance, accountability and transparency, and respect for human rights.
A Liberty Party Government will also seek to strengthen our relationship with Japan, cement our already cordial relationship with the Peoples Republic of China, and continue to improve our diplomatic relationship with the Republic of India. Our relationships will be driven by trade and transfer of knowledge to develop and diversify our business and farming sectors. Moreover, much can be learned from our Asian friends in making progress that can benefit our people.
As our resources permit, we shall expand a strong diplomatic, trade and commercial tie with all nations of world, whose policies respect human rights and conform to the norms of international law. Our liberal business climate and location in the sub-region will position us for new partnership based on trade and not aid.
As in the past, Liberia under a Liberty Party Government will avail itself of every opportunity to bring about peace between Israel and the Palestinian people.
Liberty party supports the fight against terrorism because we are a peace-loving people. We realize that Globalization has brought about a new reality. The world has become a more interdependent, increasingly shrinking community in which institutions, groups, and individuals, whether in lawful enterprise or criminal conspiracy, interact directly without regard to national borders. In the face of this, Liberty Party is determined that Liberia once again becomes the source of goodwill, and not the purveyor of violence and terror. Improving diplomatic intercourse and trade with our neighbors will ensure that our respective territories are never
Liberty Party: 2011 Platform 38 | P a g e
again used for military incursions into a neighboring country. Helping to create the environment, within which our neighbors can grow along with us, within the framework of the norms of international law, will ensure peaceful co-existence.
2.3.4 Expanding Access to Justice through Law and Court System Reform
Without justice there can be no lasting peace. And without peace, the Liberian people will remain poor and continue to suffer. We need justice and peace to achieve long-term stability in Liberia. Peace and security will never be achieved if the many causes of past injustices are not cleared away, making all men and women equal before the law—one law for all.
A Liberty Party Government will establish a Judicial Reform Commission to put together and run a national program that will improve our judicial system for the benefit of our people. The form and functions of the Commission and the resources to finance its work will be put forward in our first address to the National Legislature. The Commission will not only identify those customary laws that need to be brought into step with our Constitution, it will also investigate methods of expanding access to justice, such as Alternative Dispute Resolution Mechanisms. The Commission will also look into ways to speed up our court processes and to improve compensation for our judges and magistrates. We will seek the assistance of our international partners to ensure that this process is professional, open, comprehensive, and fair. The Commission will report its findings and recommendations in one year.
We anticipate that the Commission’s Report will propose major legal and judicial reform initiatives and the Liberty Party Government will implement those recommendations during the remainder of our term in office.
A legislation that commits lawyers and judges to undergo (periodic) continuing legal education must be a product of our reform effort. The ethics of members of the legal profession would also be a major concern of the terms of the Commission. The promotion of ethical practices will include collaboration of professional legal organizations to encourage self regulation.
A Liberty Party Government shall submit to the people a referendum to amend the Constitution of Liberia to provide for the establishment of regional courts of appeals in order to expedite the finality of judicial matters, and to reduce the workload of the Supreme Court of Liberia. We will also propose that appeal, as a matter of right, end at the courts of appeals level, giving the Supreme Court the discretion to hear only cases which present constitutional issues or which are likely to break new legal grounds, thereby establishing judicial precedents.
Liberty Party: 2011 Platform 39 | P a g e
A Liberty Party Government will propose the establishment of commercial courts that will deal exclusively with matters resulting from bank transactions, trade credits, and other business and financial transactions. Matters handled by commercial courts will be expeditiously determined, with the right of appeal being restricted. This is intended to restore the confidence of banks and businesses in transacting businesses with Liberians, build credibility in our business sector, and help develop a credit system in Liberia.
2.3.5 Ensuring the Rule of Law
A Liberty Party Government will change the way Liberia administers justice to make sure there is the rule of law. In order to ensure that justice is administered evenhandedly in our country, our Constitution and laws provide that the Executive Branch shall arrest and prosecute—enforce the law, and the Judicial Branch shall determine whether a person is guilty or not—interpret the law. Similarly, a Liberty Party Government will separate the arresting power from the prosecuting power within the Executive Branch of Government.
A Liberty Party Government will, therefore, restructure and realign Executive Branch Agencies involved in the administration of justice. Specifically, we will propose a law to transfer supervisory authority over the Liberia National Police and the Prison system to the Ministry of Internal Affairs, from the Ministry of Justice. The process shall begin during our first year in office and shall be completed by the third year.
The authority to prosecute—take legal action against violators of the law, based on evidence gathered by the police (that would be under Internal Affairs)—will remain with the Ministry of Justice.
With the harmonization of customary and statutory laws so that customary law is in accordance with our Constitution, and with the introduction of land reform, the role of the Ministry of Internal Affairs in these areas will be reduced considerably.
A Liberty Party Government will invest in building the capacity of the Ministry of Internal Affairs to undertake these new functions, and make sensible improvements in prison conditions. The necessary amendments to the relevant legislations establishing the Ministry of Justice and the Ministry of Internal Affairs will be submitted to the Legislature.
Furthermore, all security-related agencies including the Bureau of Immigration and Naturalization (but excluding the SSS, the LNP, and AFL) will be brought under the authority and supervision of the Ministry of National Security. Their functions will be redefined and staff retrained for the new roles.
Liberty Party: 2011 Platform 40 | P a g e
2.3.6 Advancing the Rights of Women
The remaking of Liberia under the rule of law will begin at the village and community level—the political nucleus of the country—in order to develop the foundation for functional democracy in Liberia.
While the right to dowry a wife (marry in accordance with customary law), would be preserved inviolate, a Liberty Party Government will ensure that any woman given into marriage must be above the age at which even consensual sex would constitute statutory rape. However, because not every custom should or can be reformed by legislation, in the New Liberia, the Liberty Party Government will continually engage traditional leaders, opinion leaders and guardians of our various customs to see how we may best preserve our cultural practices, while at the same time helping our people to make a transition into the Twenty-First Century.
Immediately upon taking office, the Liberty Party Government will begin enforcing the law that gives every Liberian woman the right to be an heir apparent of her husband- eligible to receive property from her husband when he dies. No woman should be regarded as a property to be inherited by the family of the man who paid her dowry. This idea will be expanded and included in training manuals for local administration and court personnel.
Women married under customary law will be educated as to the right of a woman to hold property in her individual name or jointly with her husband. So that in the event of a divorce she would benefit from the properties that were acquired during her marriage, and not find herself beginning life anew while someone else benefits from her labor.
But complex and critical issues such as the advancement of women will not be addressed by the marketplace or by law enforcement authorities alone. In an economy, 50% of whose GDP comes from subsistence agriculture, an 85% illiteracy rate is a foreboding number. Unfortunately still, the illiteracy rate for Liberian women is even higher. In a society in which women provide an unequal share of support for the family, the condition of women will continue to have a predominant impact on the Liberian economy and the Liberian way of life if the education of the girl child does not become a policy priority. The disempowerment associated with poverty is going to be the permanent state of affairs for Liberian women, if corrective action is not taken urgently. And Liberian men and women will have to be educated to this fact.
Under a Liberty Party Government, there will be significant and coordinated efforts devoted to creating wealth and increasing literacy among women. Wealth creation in Liberia will, therefore, be inexorably linked to economic
Liberty Party: 2011 Platform 41 | P a g e
growth and the advancement of women. We will ensure that the rights of women and children under the rule of law are protected and enforced.
2.3.7 Owning the Land We Live On
There have been numerous conflicts related to land disputes from the cities to the rural parts of Liberia. These disputes clearly point to the fact that if we do not address this issue comprehensively, we may have national security problems. A Liberty Party Government will enact a Land Acquisition and Housing Reforms Act, clearly specifying how land shall be acquired and sold, what landlords and tenants rights shall be, and what the zoning requirements of housing constructions shall be. This will bring to close the work of the Land Reform Commission.
We will create a national repository of all land records; institute a Land Ownership Review Board that will independently review land tenure policy and play an oversight role. This review Board, consisting of members from a cross section of society – historians, civil society, religious leaders, Government, student representatives, traditional leaders (Paramount Chiefs, Clan Chiefs), County Government Representatives, and citizens of renowned status, will draw and update orderly and transparent guidelines for deeded and tribal certificated land redefinition and reform in Liberia.
To certify land ownerships in Liberia, government will establish a six-month moratorium on all public land purchases and or transfers. The Review Board will study the record and the history of land laws in Liberia starting with the 1821 Ducor Contract up to the present. It will review the underpinnings of land disputes in Liberia and advance appropriate and comprehensive recommendations geared towards marrying public land laws with Customary Tenure and Communities Land Rights still in existence in Liberia today. The Board will insure that ordinary citizen’s rights to maintain their land and/or to acquire land shall not be infringed upon by the Government, the powerful, well-connected and deep-pocketed citizens or corporate entities. Liberia must have definitive land reform not only for the present generation, but also for the future generations of Liberians.
3 Where the Funding Will Come From—Fiscal and Monetary Policy
Funding to improve the wellbeing of Liberians will come from several sources under a Liberty Party Government. We will demonstrate the highest technical competence to identify and close systemic leakages. The technical competence will be backed by the strongest political will to reform and improve the management of the Liberian public finances and aggressively tackle corruption. Specifically, a Liberty Party
Liberty Party: 2011 Platform 42 | P a g e
Government Fiscal Policy outlook shall:
1. Focus on improving public expenditure management;
2. Consolidate revenue sources to reduce systemic leakages through the creation of an Independent Revenue Authority;
3. Liquidate or privatize loss-making state owned enterprises;
4. Improve Liberia’s investment climate by open access to incentives and reduction in corruption to attract foreign direct investment;
5. Raise inflows and quality of external assistance in fiscal and monetary policy design and management; and
6. Manage aid better and collaborate closely with external partners.
7. Minimize corruption which consumes about 30% of national revenue.
Improving the efficiency and effectiveness of aid management and close collaboration with Liberia’s external partners will not be a knee-jerk response to external pressures, but will be driven by a genuine commitment to improving the standard of living of all Liberians. We will achieve all of this as a result of improved public fiscal discipline. But first, we will review the current public financial situation, focusing on recent performance affecting the government revenue and expenditure areas. Table 3.1 following is a projection of revenues and expenditures under a Liberty Party Administration.
Liberty Party: 2011 Platform 43 | P a g e
Table 3.1: Projected Revenue and Expenditure
GDP( in US$ billions)
Projected Economic Growth Rate
Revenue (as % of GDP)
Projected Revenue (in US$ millions)
TOTAL ALL REVENUE
Recurrent Expenditure Projections
(in US$ millions)
goods and services
transfers and subsidies
wages and salaries
total current expenditure
Capital Expenditure Projections
(in US$ millions)
Capital Expenditure—Health and Welfare
Domestic Debt Settlement
Total Capital + Debt Settlement
TOTAL ALL EXPENDITURE
Note: Deficit targets will be met through a combination of donor grants and loan financing
Liberty Party: 2011 Platform 44 | P a g e
3.1 Improving Public Expenditure Management
A review of the government’s budgets from 2006/2007 to the draft 2009/2010, shows several areas where cuts can be made to pay for major expansion in social programs that invest in the people. Some of the areas include: i) salary (checks duplication), ii) fuel, iii) foreign travel, iv) general and special allowances, v) cars, vi) domestic debt and vii) entertainment. One good example is the Governance Commission (GC). For the 2009/2010 budget, the Government allocated US$278,775 for general allowances, US$217,200 for special allowances and US$130,923 for fuel for vehicles. Why would government allocate $130,923 in fuel to a very small entity like the GC? How many cars do they have?
Additionally, US$402,310 was allocated to purchase cars for the Ministry of Finance in 08/09 and $291,658 in 09/10–over half a million US dollars on cars in two fiscal years. Also, US$1,014,695 was allocated for fuel for these cars. This amounted to 6.8% of the total allocation to the ministry of finance in 09/10.
Another good example of where improvements can be made in expenditure management is at the Ministry of Internal Affairs. Basic salaries for 09/10 amounted to $4,222,802 and general & special allowances $1,111,204. In 08/09 US$650,000 was allocated for purchasing cars and $645,000 in 09/10, and $578,767 for fuel for those cars. Over US$1.2 million dollars was allocated for cars in two fiscal years and fuel allocations amounted to an additional half of that amount.
An analysis of Foreign Travel puts the total amount spent in fiscal 08/09 at US$10,518,278. This amount can be significantly reduced by a better use of Liberian diplomats abroad.
The total amount budgeted for fuel in 08/09 is 5,186,014. Cuts can also be made in this area. Moreover, the GAC report on recycled civil servant salary checks shows that several government checks were cashed more than one time. A Liberty Party Government will put systems in place to stop the recycled checks scheme and savings from this will be used for healthcare and education.
A Liberty Party Government’s fiscal strategy is to retain recurrent expenditures at consistent levels, while obtaining greater efficiency in the amounts allocated and reducing systemic leakages. Gains of 15% to 20% can be made by aggressively reducing corruption (systemic leakages) in government.
Liberty Party: 2011 Platform 45 | P a g e
3.2 Fiscal Policy Outlook
The key thrust of a Liberty Party Government’s fiscal policy would be:
1) Double GDP to US$2 billion by 2017. This would require increasing the growth rate from 5 to 16% per year.
2) Reduce revenue as percent of GDP from the current level of 38 to 25% (to give more space to the private sector).
3) Expect a more modest growth in revenue but US$3 billion would still be about twice the US$1.4 available from 2006 to 2010. With a net reduction of 15 to 20% in systemic leakages of government resources attributable to corruption, our ambitious social programs would be fully funded.
4) Leverage our debt-free status largely for infrastructure projects (including technical education infrastructure); borrowing modestly while attracting private investments into the more lucrative areas—energy, telecommunications, internet-based services, transportation, urban water supply, privately-provided health and education, etc.
5) Reduce payments on domestic debt to no more than 1 percent of total revenue—effectively cancelling the estimated $317 million in contested debt (sending all claimants to the courts to establish legitimate claims against the government).
3.3 Monetary Policy Outlook
By the first quarter of 2010, inflation stood at 13.2% largely on food prices due in part to “supply bottlenecks for both imported and domestically produced goods.21 The trade deficit stood at 52% of GDP (approximately $445 million); export earnings and remittances from Liberians in the Diaspora continued to decline in 2009 and 2010. The combined effects of these contributed to a decline in the LS:US$ exchange rate so that by March of 2010 the rate stood at L$71.5 to US$1.
Nevertheless, the banking sector balance sheets improved with a 7.2 percent growth in the deposit base and a 6.1 percent increase in gross loans to productive investments. Assets and capital available to the sector also improved while non-performing loans remained steady at 11 percent of the total outstanding. Gross earnings also continue to improve.
Nevertheless, the sector continues to experience difficulty finding productive investment opportunities contributing to excess liquidity. Only about 4% of the loans go to commercial agriculture primarily because of the lack of government support.
21 Central Bank of Liberia, Financial and Economic Bulletin Jan to Mar 2010
Liberty Party: 2011 Platform 46 | P a g e
The key thrust of a Liberty Party Government’s monetary policy will be:
1) Introduce new mechanisms for the liquidation of outstanding debt without drawn-out foreclosure process.
2) Re-capitalize the National Housing and Savings Bank and the Agricultural Credit and Cooperative Development Bank with significant private sector holding and divestiture of management
3) Boost exports, which amounted to only $56.3 million in 2009, in partnership with the private sector to reduce the trade deficit and inflationary pressure on the Liberian dollar
4) Negotiate larger contribution to economic revitalization in the form of direct budgetary support with the improvement in public expenditure management
5) Extend new credit guarantees to support long-term financing of commercial agriculture and value added agricultural production–raising the total lending to agriculture from 4 to 24% of the banking sector loans; and reducing average lending rates from 14.17 to 10 percent.
6) Introduce new micro-finance regulations and insurance products to generate more savings that can be invested into productive sectors.
7) Retain the US dollar and modest growth of the Liberian dollar in circulation to retain exchange rate stability and reduce inflation.