Monrovia – When President George Manneh Weah delivers his second annual message Monday, in the backdrop of massive expectations regarding the report to the missing Liberian dollars and the infusion of US $ 25 million, trumpeted as a measure to mop up the excess liquidity, the stakes will no doubt be as high as an antsy nation look to gauge and pounce on what the President will be able to see in the past year.
Report by Rodney D. Sieh, rodney [email protected]
Just about a year ago this time, President of the United States, President Weah's message sought to convince Liberians that the incoming rulings of the Coalition for Democratic Change had a broken economy. "Our economy is broken, our currency is in free-fall, inflation is rising, we are at an unprecedented high, and our foreign reserves are at an all-time low," the President declared.
The irony of millions of dollars gone for a broken economy.
A massive hashtag protest "Bring Back Our Money" coupled with concerns over the president's reluctance to first declares his assets and then making them public plus the controversial addition of unexplained construction, reinstatement and purchases of the president and some of his key lieutenants eclipsed much of the agenda on the government's table in its first year.
A US-sanctioned report is yet to be released and many Liberians are keen to see how the President addresses the saga which dominated 2018 and drew his still-young administration in the firing line of critics.
The administration also came under fire from controversial questioning two controversial loans – a US $ 536 million from the little-known Eton Financial Private Limited and a US420 million one dubbed Ebomaf. President Mahamadou Bonkougou, a Burkinabe businessman friend of President Weah, who has just been elected President of the United States.
Much of those concerns have been ignored as both sides of the national legislature have taken a hard look at what has happened.
Article 58 of the Liberian Constitution seats on the President of the Legislative Assembly of the legislature and to report to the Liberian people, on the 4th Monday of January every year.
In this year's address, the President will be expected to present the country's overall economic condition, covering both expenditure and revenue.
A year ago, the President was guarded by the luxury of time. He had only been in office when he took the stage to deliver his first annual message.
The President said: "I have been President for only one week, I was not expected to report to the Government of Liberia for the previous year, which was under my predecessor. "
This year, the President is expected to be visible and taking ownership of both the highs and lows, the good and the bad.
The reported revenue of the year before the arrival of the United States amounted to 489.1 million US Dollars, which according to the President in his message last year, was a 13 percent decline in revenue collected in 2016, which was 565.1 million.
At the time, President Weah said it could not be verified for the accuracy or completeness of the information, in the absence of a verification by a competent authority. The President did, however, say that the situation was very much affected by the delays in the electoral process of 2017, which had the effect of reducing the transition period. "Nevertheless, it is possible to inform the state of the economy that my administration has inherited, leaves a lot to be desired. This is all for you, for we are all affected by it. "
While many were sympathetic to the President's concerns regarding the economy, his supporters and some officials sought to blame the President of the President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf.
House Speaker Bhofal Chambers, an ounce of fierce criticism of the President, suggests that Sirleaf apologized to the Liberian people for the sake of information.
The speaker went on to suggest that the president be considered a person of interest in the missing money saga and held accountable for the printing of additional 10 billion which squarely contradicts the legislature July 19, 2017 communication that gives the Central Bank of Liberia (CBL ) the approval to print.
The missing trillions and the US $ 25 million put on the Weah Presidency.
The US exchange rate for the Liberian dollar is slowly rising again, the rate of inflation is continuing. As President Weah takes to the podium Monday, many would be keen to see what new measures would be announced by the president to bring some relief to those at the bottom of the economic ladder.
What is certain that the coming months could be pivotal for the Weah-led government as the clock ticks on the honeymoon period and the unfolding realities begin to set in.