Monrovia, Liberia West Africa – December 14, 2018: A local insurance company in Liberia has complained to the office of the President about what it refers to as “…the consistent harassment of our Company and members of the public Automobile Insurance by our Company by the Minister of Transports Hon. Samuel Wlue…”
According to a letter dated December 3, 2018, a copy of which is in possession of the West African Journal Magazine, and addressed to the Office of the Liberian leader, the Omega Insurance Company, through its Executive Director Mr. Charles Ananaba, said the Liberian Minister of Transport Mr. Wlue “…unauthorizedly used his office to print Insurance stickers that are properties of the Insurance Association of Liberia; moreover, he has compelled members of the Association to sell such stickers on his behalf…”
The Omega Insurance Company further informed the Office of the Liberian President Mr. George M. Weah that the action of the Transport Minister was in contravention of a Stay Order issued last July by Judge Eva Mappy, Chief Judge of the Commercial Court of Liberia.
According to the Writ of Preliminary Injunction issued against the Transport Ministry, the Association of Insurers in Liberia and the Liberian National Police in the matter in August, 2018, it said, “You are hereby commanded to restrain and enjoin the Respondents herein from further in inspection of all moto vehicles plying the roadways within the Republic of Liberia for insurance stickers and until further directive from this court…”
“It is not only difficult to operate normal business as a major tax paper under such circumstances where the Transport Minister disrespects the Tax Law, Vehicle and Traffic Law, and Court Order; but the actions of the Honorable Minister is contrary to declaration made by the President That Liberia is open for business and Liberians will no longer be spectators in their own company…” the Liberian owned insurance company complained.
It is unclear how much revenue to date has been generated from the unilateral and illegal action of the Liberian Transport Minister. There has been no official statement or response to the complaint from Omega Insurance Company.
Liberia’s economy is at present struggling to attract international investors due to anumber of factors including weak financial institutions, lack of basic infrastructure, lack of tehnical capacity and skilled labor and endemic corruption which is pervasive in all sectors.
The Liberian economy which is market based depends largely on the country’s natural resources whose prices have been negatively impacted by global slumps. The small West African nation now is is also largely dependent on direct foreign aid and some Diaspora remittances.
According to its statistics on Doing Business in Liberia, the website Trading Economics reports that “ Liberia is ranked 174 among 190 economies in the ease of doing business, according to the latest World Bank annual ratings. The rank of Liberia deteriorated to 174 in 2018 from 172 in 2017. Ease of Doing Business in Liberia averaged 161.91 from 2008 until 2018, reaching an all-time high of 180 in 2014 and a record low of 144 in 2013…”
The disclosure of illegal actions by a senior Liberian government official and contravention of a Court Order in this matter impacts the country’s ability to attract investors who view the lack of rule of law as a major negative factor.
The most recent disclosure of bribery extortion by Liberian government officials broke at the National Housing Authority (NHA) and involved a business from Burkina Faso, West Africa.
Top officials of the NHA including its Managing Director and his Deputy have been suspended and are pending prosecution. Other officials named in the case have denied any knowledge or participation in the scheme. Investigation is still ongoing into the missing “$16 billon Liberian dollars and which went missing from the Central Bank. There have been conflicting accounts from the Liberian government as to what happened to the money. At disclosure of the missing $16 billion LD, Liberian staged a peaceful protest to demand the return of the money
Forensic auditors from the US are assisting with the investigation and a report is due out soon.
Additionally, the Liberian government has yet to adequately explain the process of how it said it infused $25 million USD into the local economy to cleanup excess local currency and shore up the country’s economy.
The explanation by the country’s Finance and Planning Minister Samuel Tweah that local, un-named and unregulated money exchangers were used by Government to infuse money into the economy has drawn sharp outcry from ordinary Liberians who are bearing the brunt of the persistent economic downturn. .
The political leader of the opposition Alternative National Congress (ANC) Mr. Alexander B. Cummings Jr. recently told a local radio station that Liberians need to be concerned about the direction of the country. He cited the “hard times” ordinary Liberians were experiencing.
According to data seen, “Liberia scored 31 points out of 100 on the 2017 Corruption Perceptions Index reported by Transparency International. Corruption Index in Liberia averaged 32 Points from 2005 until 2017, reaching an all-time high of 41 Points in 2012 and a record low of 21 Points in 2007.
(The Corruption Perceptions Index ranks countries and territories based on how corrupt their public sector is perceived to be. A country or territory’s score indicates the perceived level of public sector corruption on a scale of 0 (highly corrupt) to 100 (very clean).
Meantime, on Thursday, December 13, 2018, Liberia and the United States signed a US $112 million dollars grant agreement through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) for the 2018 fiscal year. President Weah and US Ambassador Christine Elder, according to the State House press statement, affirmed their countries “ commitment to work together to institute policy reforms for broad-based private sector led, more effective and accountable governance and improved health and education for Liberia..”
President Weah and his government say they see reforms as critical to successfully moving Liberia on its journey to self-reliance, the Executive Mansion in Monrovia said.
By Emmanuel Abalo
West African Journal