Grand Kru County Senator and former President Pro-Tempore of the Senate, Cletus Wortorson says government needs to create a middle income class in Liberia in order to ensure stability of peace and security.
Making the comment in his presentation at a week long workshop for Liberian Journalists in Monrovia on October 1, 2013, Senator Wortorson said the peace Liberians enjoy today can only last for a longer period if the greater majority of the citizens can have some money to meet their basic needs.
He said middle income creation could come in the form of existing companies including oil purchasing locally produced goods from Liberian entrepreneurs and allowing them (entrepreneurs) to have minimal shares in the gas & oil and mineral industries.
According to Senator Wortorson, emphasis on prioritizing local content is the only way the ordinary Liberian earning living by business can benefit from the resources of the country and wealth creation can be attained.
He asserted that President Sirleaf must take a risk by empowering Liberian owned businesses and capacity building to get in the position of self sustainability so as to prevent actions that will undermine peace and security.
He observes that banking institutions are skeptical of Liberians in terms of loan but trust Lebanese with loan; situation he said deprives them (Liberians) of right they are entitled to in their own country.
He said “Lebanese earn the money in Liberia and take it to their home in Lebanon, but when Liberians earn money, it will remain in the country because taxes paid couple with employment will help to build their capacity.”
Senator Wortorson on another hand stressed that he will craft a bill to prohibit Liberians fronting for foreigners or aliens in the business sector.
According to him, many Liberians front for the Lebanese businessmen and it continues to create monopoly.
He said unlike other African countries including Ghana and Cameroun that make laws to protect their citizens have certain businesses different from foreigners, not such is the case with Liberia, adding, “There are certain businesses that Cameroonians or Ghanaians make that are not operated by foreigners or aliens.”
Meanwhile, the call for the creation of “Middle Income” in Liberia is not only being raised by Senator Wortorson.
Central Bank Governor Dr. J. Mills Jones on September 2 reiterated his overly emphasized “Poverty Reduction” policy that if Liberia can move forward, everyone must move along and not a few group of people.
He said, “For Liberia to move forward, we must all move alone. It must not be a few people while the majority live in poverty.”
Dr. Jones who spoke to scores of Liberian business entrepreneurs in Tubmanburg, Bomi County on September 2, 2013 said it was against this backdrop that CBL Board and he are engaged in giving out loans to Liberian businesses for empowerment in line with the bank’s regulations.
Even though Liberian entrepreneurs highly welcome the venture by the Central Bank to give them loan, what remains challenging is that dual currencies are used in Liberia, United States dollar and Liberian.
The rate of the United States Dollar continues to fluctuate as the Liberian Dollar depreciates, and on the basis of this entrepreneurs who cannot afford much of the US Dollar find it difficult to trade as in most places US Dollar is required for purchasing.
In this vein, locally produced commodities are also priced in Liberian Dollar according to the existing rate of the US Dollar.
CBL Governor Mills Jones addressing this concern on September 4 during a program in his honor at Fendall, outside Monrovia stressed that until Liberians begin to produce finished goods from their resources, it will be very difficult to have a controllable rate or for the Liberian Dollar to have a high value.
Meanwhile, Liberian Business Association (LIBA) President, Dee Maxwell Kemayah in at an honoring program in August of 2013 commended Governor Jones and the CBL Board for robust step taken to give indigenous Liberian owned businesses loan.
He urged Government that empowering Liberians was not a favor but an obligation that government must meet, and should not be a lip service.
Source: Joaquin Sendolo/ Daily Observer
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