Vice President Boakai meets with Liberian Community in China

Friday, 10th July 2009
Beijing, China - Liberia’s Vice President Jodseph N. Boakai on Thursday night met with the Liberian Community in China at the Liberian Embassy in Beijing.

During the meeting attended by scores of students and other residents, Vice President Boakai briefed his countrymen about strides being made by the Unity Party-led Government to improve the living standards of Liberians and redeem the country’s smeared image.

He outlined problems inherited by the government including a huge external debt burden,  a broken economy and a nation with no true democracy.

He said due to the democratic credentials of the current government, Liberians freely criticize the government without reprisal, while audit reports are published in the newspapers and corruption openly discussed in the media, something, he noted never happened before the current government came to power.

“The average civil servant earned no more than 800 Liberian dollars, while rice was being sold at US$20 during the Charles Taylor era. The Maritime funds were not accounted for, but nobody dared to speak out,”
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Vice President Boakai observed that the average of civil servants now US70.00 while there is electricity and pipe borne in parts of the capital Monrovia. “Roads are being reconditioned, the government has declared free primary education in public schools and teacher training institutions are being reopened,” Vice President Boakai noted.

He said the government has embarked on the construction of its own offices, so that money currently used on rent can be diverted to other uses.

Vice President Boakai said the Government was doing this because “we want to set a new agenda, build a new country and improve its image from a failed state to one of the most success stories nations on the African Continent”.

The Liberian Vice President said another major challenge confronting the Unity Party Government was lack of trained manpower, and called on Liberians in the Diaspora who have acquired the requisite skills to return home and lend a hand in their country’s reconstruction program.

He said whatever is happening now should have happened more than 50 years ago. In response to a question,.Vice President Boakai said road construction in the modern age is very expensive, and that the government can only embark on massive road reconstruction across the country when its US$4.7 billion debt reduces substantially enough to enable the country reach the HIPIC point and be able to borrow once again.

Vice President Boakai commended Liberians resident in China for their good comportment, noting, “We are happy that there are no negative reports of your conduct here. We want to thank you for being good citizens”.

He also commended staff of the Liberian Embassy for the patience they have exhibited in the wake of unnecessary delays in the payment of their salaries and benefits, and assured them that government was trying to remove bottlenecks that gave rise these delays.

Also speaking during the meeting, Planning and Economic Affairs Minister Honorable Amara Konneh said through its Poverty Reduction Strategy, the government was holding itself accountable to the people, and trying to reverse the decline of Liberia which started in 1974 and its collapse in 1989.

He informed Liberian community members that the PRS, otherwise known as “Lift Liberia”, has 347 interventions covering security, economic revitalization, providing basic services like electricity, pipe-borne water, schools, governance and rule of law.

“Liberia’s decline started 34 years ago. It’s going to take all Liberians, including those in the Diaspora to rebuild it. I encourage you Liberians, get involved in whatever way you can to usher your country out of poverty,” Mr. Konneh said..

Also in remarks, Liberia’s Ambassador to the People’s Republic of China, Madam Neh Dukuly Tolbert, commended President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and Vice President Boakai  for the strides they were making to move Liberia to a new level, and hoped they would continue to chart this path.

Ambassador Tolbert challenged members of the Liberian community in China to remain law-abiding, adding, “Fellow Liberians, I challenge each of you to be ambassador of Liberia in this country”.

In a statement presented to Vice President Boakai, the President of the Liberian Student Union in China, J. Alexander Nuetah, commended the current government for the great strides it was making to improve the welfare of Liberians through the Poverty Reduction Strategy.

He said the strides the government was making in good governance which have seen government ministries audited with audit reports being published and people allowed to freely express their views on corrupt practices without molestation, were laudable.

Mr. Nuetah commended the recent mergers of political parties aimed at reducing the number of parties in the country, and the improvement of social services, three years after elections.

Mr. Nuetah however expressed concern about the recent UN report which brought to light the growing divide in the Liberian society which, he noted, is unhealthy for peace and stability in the post-war country.

He also expressed concern about Liberia’s low per capita income, noting, “$143 per capita income  in the 21st Century is unrealistic for a country “,and hoped the government would put in place all the macro and micro economic variables to improve this figure.

Also in remarks, the President of the Liberian Community in Guangdong Province, K. Myers Korteh called on the Liberian government to consider establishing a Consulate in Guangdong Province to seek the interest and welfare of Liberians there who fall in trouble.

He said many Liberians who go to the province from Liberia on business trips sometimes encounter serious problems and get stranded there.
“Some of them lose their money. Many Liberians in the province are in jail because of the expiration of their visas,” Mr. Korteh said .

He noted that appointing a Consul-General in the area would help to ease some of these problems.