The Way Forward In The Job Market

By Leon Ledlum

The Perspective
Atlanta, Georgia

January 23, 2004

We have over the years concentrated on political issues, with very little attention on the economy of our nation. We all know why that has been the case, and I, therefore, would not attempt to justify or criticize it.

My attempt with this piece, is to bring to the open, my view as it relates to Liberians' direct efforts in helping with the reconstruction of our beloved nation. No people can build a prosperous nation without the nationals' maximum participation, and this has been one of the reasons why our country stands as it is today. The time has now come for us to grab the opportunity that is out there, no matter how little it may appear.

Liberia of today needs the input of every meaningful citizen for our reconstruction, both physically and psychologically. The role of reconstructing our psychic is more paramount than the physical, hence no one should down play it. When one's psychic is balanced, he/she has better control of his/her physical environment.

I have read others' opinions on our economic future, and have suggested in their views' what they see would better place Liberia and its people. Let me quickly remind the readers that I am no authority on economics, but would like to add my own suggestion, as I am also a Liberian citizen, and know what plagues us as a people.

Looking at what has happened to Liberia to date, it is easy to say the underlying interest of all parties in all the conflicts is MONEY, or better put, wealth. And mistakenly, Liberians have come to equate political power to wealth making. This trend can be brought to an end should the GOL adopt appropriate policies towards empowering its citizenry economically, by way of creating softer financial institutions that would lend investment capital to Liberians who have the know-how, and will power to establish businesses.

My advice would be that such loans for investments should be doled out in bits towards purchasing what would be required for such enterprise, and their payrolls be paid out by such lending institutions, rather than the usual cash pay out to the owners of such projects, as was the case in earlier GOL sponsored programs.

It is now the appropriate era to be innovative with the Liberian economy. Many Liberians are anxious for work or jobs, but a good number of them want to be self-employed and creating jobs for others. Their main obstacle in achieving that objective is the initial capital for a take off. The GOL has the political responsibility to solving this problem, and it serves as a down payment for future sources of revenue, through tax collections and other GOL fees. The more affluent Liberians become, the more prosperous and stable the nation stands.

The Lebanese and Indian factor, which the late Doe use to call " Partners in Progress", need to be looked at seriously and to quantify and qualify that relationship with the purpose of making it more beneficial to the Liberian citizenry and not the other way around. I strongly feel the presence of this dominating our economy need to be brought to a screeching halt. Liberia cannot continue to be their sphere of influence to the Liberian detriment.

The need to adopt certain stringent policies to protect the Liberian economy for the benefit of Liberians cannot be over emphasized. Many Liberians would take up many of these so-called investments in the absence of these "Partners in Progress", were they not protected by our politicians.

Example of why many Liberians fail in business can be attributed to unfair competition with their so called "Partners in Progress" who control the wholesale market, and therefore, have lines of credit opened to their compatriots who also dominate the retail sector of the economy, while the Liberians must pay cash/credit at a higher buying price. How can the Liberians fairly compete?

One way to entice Liberians into the commerce sector, (especially retail) would be to limit foreign participation at that level to be partnership with Liberians, while their participation on the wholesale level should be open to all.

For Liberians to nurture their newly found hope and peace, there is the need for GOL to put at the disposal of its citizenry the minimal inputs for a forward move. This, I believe, would go a long way to minimize the people's attention on politics and hasten the pace towards healing our nation, and reconciling our differences.