President Weah, who spoke on a wide range of issues but with specific focus on groundbreaking policy declarations aimed at resuscitating the economy and curbing corruption, exalted Liberians for their resilience amid harsh economic conditions, averring that his Government was committed to the much publicized “Pro-Poor “ Agenda that will lift up all of Liberian people and not only a few.
He said a series of policy measures are underway to stabilize the national economy in the short term, and position it for growth in the medium to long term.
“We are working with stakeholders on measures that are intended to bring down prices,” said President Weah who noted that his administration continues to work to attract new investments in agriculture, improve our business climate to reduce the costs and hurdles of doing business in Liberia
Also as s part of his nationwide address, he vowed to review all audit reports by the General Auditing Commission dating from the past 10 years.
“In the next several days, my Government will begin the review of all General Auditing Commission audits over the past 10 years, and will commence legal actions against every person that is implicated in these audit reports. Anyone found culpable will face the full force of the law,” stated President Weah, as he maintained his stance on the fight against corruption.
He furthered that Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC)-led Government will contract international firms to conduct audits and go after all monies and resources taken away from the country illegally.
“In this same spirit, my Government also intends to contract international auditing and investigative firms to go after all monies and resources that were illegally taken from Liberia over the last 10 years. We must all take the fight against corruption to a new level as a form of social justice for all our people,” he pointed out.
But several Liberians, who tuned into their radio to listen to their leader, think that he should have kept his focus on recent issues rather than going down to 10 years ago audit reports, which, according to them, are bulky and would not be exhausted in a relatively short period of time.
According to them, his fight against corruption should begin with his own administration, in which there are issues of alleged financial impropriety rather than going into something that sounds more like a “witch-hunt”.
“If the President wants to fight corruption, he needs to start cleaning from under his own feet before going to clean another person’s feet. He must begin to take drastic step against officials of his own government then we will know that he is ready to end corruption. But the one he wants to do, for me is unrealistic and he needs to rethink his decision,” asserted one Morris Siaway, a resident of Monrovia.
Morris and others believe that the latest pronouncement by the President is belated, stressing that he should have done that long before when he came to the helm of power.
However, there are other Liberians with the view that the President’s latest pronouncement is in the right direction.
They indicated that corruption cannot be tackled without ensuring that monies and resources illegally taken from the country in the past are not accounted for.
“Why are the people having problem with the statement? There is no reason for qualm, because they want accountability, and the President wants to do that holistically. Absolutely there is nothing wrong with the president reviewing past audit reports,” commented Mohammed Kamara of Paynesville.
Accordingly, commenting on the recent audit report released by the General Auditing Commission(GAC), President Weah indicated that as the matter is being forwarded to the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC), any individual or individuals found culpable of financial impropriety will face the full weight of the law.
But he was quick to point out that his government will not adjudge anyone based on hearsay or mere gossips, rather on account of facts and proof.
It could be recalled that recently, the GAC released its report of factual findings into the expenditure of the US$25M, intended to mop up excess Liberian Dollars from the market.
Among other things, multiple sections of the GAC report reference discrepancies and variances in the accounting records of the mop up exercise. Major concerns were raised surrounding several CBL-listed businesses that are denying that they participated in the mop-up exercise, as well as other CBL-listed businesses that were found not to be in existence at the time of the GAC audit.
“The Minister of Justice and Attorney General has now requested the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission to investigate these irregularities. The aim of this exercise is to determine criminal liability. All those found criminally liable will face the full weight of the law,” President Weah asserted.
On the heel of this, some are of the opinion that the President has not been drastic enough on officials of the CBL and members of the Technical Management Team (TEMP).
They believe that his composure is to continue to shield Mr. Samuel Tweah, Chairman of TEMP, under whose direction transactions were made.