By Alva Mulbah Wolokolie
The national executive committee of the opposition Congress for Democratic Change (CDC), has officially responded to the 2014 annual message delivered by President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf.
The CDC says it is dismayed that the President’s proudest accomplishment in job creation is the production of jobs for 5,000 young people under the Special Presidential Back to School clean-up initiative.
CDC Vice-President for Operation, Mulbah Morlu, who read the statement, told reporters that the President’s message makes them to wonder what link she (President Sirleaf) has created between the many multinational corporations and concessions she had granted during her nine years in office and the thousands of young Liberians leaving the walls of college on annual basis.
Mr. Morlu noted that Liberia has a significant reservoir of unskilled labor which needs employment even if it is temporarily.
Morlu pointed out that it is unfortunate for the President to claim that the country received US$16 billion investments and can only provide employments in car-washing and garbage collection for its youth, which indicates extreme indifference for the rights of her people to a decent lifestyle.
This situation, according to Morlu is made more disappointing by the fact that youth investment spending is yet to commence, depriving vulnerable youths from accessing the fund. The CDC therefore questions the Ministry of Finance which sits at the fulcrum of these public investments to provide information on lack of action in this regard, as well as ensure the US$15 million public investment in youth employment to reach targeted beneficiaries.
Besides the CDC condemnation, it recommended that President Sirleaf should implement the Ministry of Youth and Sports programs on youth employment and empowerment, through funding of programs and proper monitoring.
The opposition party also wants the Liberian leader to catalyze youth employment among concession companies by providing a statutory percentage of the wage-bill which must be paid to Liberians. This figure, he added should be tapered, such that it evolves over time towards a target.
Touching on the President’s legislative agenda, the CDC said the passage of legislation remains an important aspect of governance and it believes the huge number of bills under deliberation and being proposed are consistent with the political and economic challenges confronting the country.
The CDC noted that while the passage of new bills is important, effective enforcement of bills already passed remains significantly weak and also observes that probably one reason why legislative enforcement remains weak is that economic impact of legislation is not generally measured or captured.
The party also noted that agencies of the Executive Branch charged with enforcement of particular pieces of legislation, seem unconcerned about how the economic benefits of these pieces of legislation would be optimized for intended beneficiaries and legislators also appear either unwilling or unable that deliverables mentioned in one are not duplicated in another.
The CDC in the strongest term recommended that President Sirleaf should review all previous GAC audit reports and prosecute all those involved, and the whistle blower act must be passed and strong protections and incentives must be given to whistle blowers to expose those bent on defrauding the Liberian people of their legitimate resources.
Commenting on the security, peace, justice and rule of law, CDC says government should prioritize support for the training of additional police troops and army personnel as well as absorbing them on government payroll.
Mr. Morlu said the CDC would prefer that government investigates the high rate of attrition within the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL) and build on the appointment of the new AFL Chief-of-Staff to revive the morale of the personnel.