Job Creation Necessary: As Ellen Diagnoses Liberia’s
Postwar Economy for Revamping
With Josiah Hallie
Like what happened in the early days of the People’s Redemption (PRC) regime in 1980 of which many had high expectations of getting well-paid jobs that could have made them feel comfortable after being denied the opportunity for so long. Apart from those qualified ones for the job market, many others who never even had labor skills dreamt of having luxurious jobs at the time. It is on record that the PRC-led administration of M. Sgt. Samuel K. Doe even raised the salary structure of government workers across the board ranging from 200-250 United States dollars to serve as a motivating factor for the people to give their maximum support to the young military junta mixed up with civilian politicians who had long been wishing to ascend to state power.
Consequently, with the raise in the workers’ salary without corresponding revenue intake to balance the equation as well as lack of prudent financial management, we all knew what happened next when the M. Sgt Samuel K. Doe government launched another economic formula of 16-23 percent salary reduction that had an adverse effect on those civil servants. This plummeting economic situation occurred because there was no actual scheme of job creation for many thousands of Liberians who were ready to either be absorbed in the formal or informal labor market. In fact what happened at the time was the deepening confidence crisis in the Liberian economy by very many investors. Most of whom left the country by firstly repatriating their investment capital to foreign parts after the military coup.
Additionally, another factor has been the way our governance system has taken worse dimension since the military regime which eventually catapulted into civil war. It is evidently clear that governance and economic development are intertwined in any political system for the country. So, when one talks about balanced political system he or she must take into account good governance as a forerunner to sound economic development system. And with the coming in of a new civilian government having the blessing of the international community, it is now time for new leadership of the country to jumpstart the economy by looking at the necessary things.
Given these variables, many if not all Liberians, are optimistic that the golden opportunity missed for the past 14 or 24 years can be grabbed with no amount of time being wasted through the kind of leadership and economic programs Madam Sirleaf and her team will be putting forward. Many a time, during her campaign speeches, Madam Sirleaf would emphasize balanced economic development as her modus operandi for a postwar reconstruction. She indicated that Liberia has abundant resources that need to be harnessed for the benefit of the majority living squalor lives. In terms of making an economic analysis, when one speaks of balanced economic development- it means taking other components of which help to enhance development into consideration.
For a country coming out of the ashes of war, the salient components that can propel economic growth or development are job creation, training of human resource, health care development, infrastructural development and many others. Invariably, these development programs must be simultaneously implemented in both urban and rural areas so that the labor market can be balanced. The reason for this is that if for instance, development is concentrated only in an urban area there would automatically be an upsurge in rural-urban migration with heavy population density in the urban cities.
Howbeit, with the emergence of Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf as a new postwar leader, a lot will be expected of her to tackle the increasing unemployment problem which always remains prim dona in the political system of Liberia. The reason for our President to focus on the issue of job creation is to quickly assist the war-weary citizens of this country to be economically empowered in order to have a better start of their lives which have been ruined over the years as a result of persistent conflicts.
The Ellen-led administration can quickly look at certain sectors which if revitalized, would yield an urgent economic panacea for the country. One aspect in this direction is to monetize the economy given our country’s agricultural potential. Revamping of the Agriculture and Cooperative Development Bank (ACDB) and the National Housing and Savings Bank (NHSB) will be a good economic link to this monetization program. For instance, farmers in the rural areas through training or seminars that will be given them in order to be credit worthy will help them have an access to credit facilities using these banks for agricultural investment.
Prior to the war, many Liberian rural farmers benefited from credit facility provided by the ACDB. This assisted them in improving their income. The ACDB also collaborated with some cooperatives in the rural settings in the area of purchasing and selling of produce. Also, the National Housing Bank which is considered to be “the poor people’s bank,” can also be used as a trade link between small scale business owners and other institutions to improve their commerce through the opening of loan facility. The revitalization of some agricultural institution like the Lofa County Agricultural Development Project (LCADP), Bong County Agricultural Development Project (BCADP), Nimba County Agricultural Project, among others will create more employment opportunity for many jobless Liberians.
However, for us to be able to realize this economic program of job creation, Madam Sirleaf’s government must first of all take the initiative of rehabilitating the major highways and feeder roads in the country. This will serve as a catalyst to our post war economic development agenda.