9 July Press Brief

Monday, 9th July 2007
Members of the Press:

There are a few issues we want to bring to your attention in today’s Executive Mansion Press briefing.

We want to inform you that the Executive Consultation between President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and Political Parties will continue tomorrow. Invitations have been sent out to more than eight political parties. The Parties include the Liberia Destiny Party; The Union of Liberian Democrats; the Progress Democratic Party; the New Deal Movement; and the National Reformation Party.  Others are the National Vision Party of Liberia; the Liberia National Union and the Coalition for the Transformation of Liberia (COTOL).

Friday’s Executive Consultations with ten political parties were a great success. There were very frank exchange of views between the President and leaders of the political parties.

The parties have all agreed that such meetings are necessary to for the growth of our fledging democracy.

Among political party leaders attending the meeting were the former ruling National Patriotic Party; the Liberia People’s Party; United People’s Party; the National Democratic Party of Liberia; All Liberia Coalition Party (ALCOP); the Alliance for Peace and Democracy (ADP); and the Free Democratic Party, among others.

We also want to comment on the apparent arbitrary increase in the prices of basic commodities particularly petroleum products. There has been no increase in the price of gasoline. Gasoline remains at US 3.30 cents a gallon, which if converted to Liberian dollars at 60 to 1, is LD 198.00.
A shipment of one-point four million gallons of gasoline is due in the country Wednesday July 11 to address the superficial shortage. Another shipment of half a million gallons will arrive in the country before the end of the week…….

We also want to comment on reports by some media institutions that the rice market remains closed.  The reports are absolutely misleading. The fact of the matter is that all importers have been given the green light to import rice into the country. A total of four local companies are currently importing rice into the country. The entities importing rice include three Liberian-owned companies and one foreign owned. They are Sinkor Trading Company; Gateway Incorporated; SDTM (Lib.) Inc. and Fahmah Business Center. Since January to April this year a total of 111,500 metric tons, representing 2-point two million bags of rice have been imported into the country. This is contrary to the recent Liberty Party allegations that monopoly still exists in the rice market….

The government has been alerted that the price of butter rice on the world market will go up in September. The Commerce Ministry is therefore encouraging the importation of a variety of rice on the market to minimize the impact of the anticipated increase in the price of butter rice on the world market in September.

Allow us to comment on another issue which seems to be making headlines – the Asset Freeze legislation which has been submitted to the National legislature.

The bill is part of government’s commitment to the international Community to fight corruption in this country. It will be discussed, debated among all sectors of the society and changes made where necessary.

This President is committed to fighting corruption at all fronts. The record is clear! Concrete measures have been taken by this government to tackle the issue of corruption.

This government is signatory to the African Union and United Nations Conventions against Corruption. We have begun implementing the ECOWAS audit report against those accused of corruption. An anti-corruption strategy formulation by the Governance Reform Commission has been approved by the Cabinet while a Code of Conduct for Public Servants is being prepared by the GRC.

A number of Public officials who have been involved in acts of corruption at various ministries and agencies have been dismissed.

Wherever there is substantial evidence to prosecute, the government of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf will not hesitate to bring anyone involved to book.

We urge you all, the Press, to bring to light any report of corruption, including concrete evidence to go along with those reports.

And this is where we are calling on the Auditor-general to begin the work he was brought in to do – to start the audits.  It is not enough to simply make statements of corruption without providing the concrete evidence.  We still await a report of his ‘risk analysis’ which formed a basis of the corruption indictment against the government.

His evidence will go a long way in helping the government address the corruption allegations he has made.

On the incident this morning involving the National Police and the Freeport Police, more information is being gathered on what transpired. Once the facts have been established, you will be informed. 

Thanks for your attention.  I will now take your questions.