The Executive Governor of the Central Bank of Liberia (CBL) has been hailed ‘Man of the People’ as the CBL extends its financial inclusion exercise to Southeastern Liberia with the opening of three rural financial institutions.
Officials of the CBL including its Executive Governor and two members of the Board of Governors namely Mr. John Bestman and Mr. David Farhat were recently on a tour of Southeastern Liberia where rural financial institutions were opened in Barclayville, Grand Kru County and Fish Town, River Gee County and a Credit Union office in Zwedru, Grand Gedeh County.
While in the Southeast, Governor Jones and entourage after being welcomed by a record crowd of people, attended an Economic Empowerment Summit on Wednesday in Karloken City, Karluway District, Maryland County upon the invitation of Maryland County District number three Representative, Isaac Blalu Roland.
At the summit, Rep. Roland who is one of the architects of the CBL Amended Act which barred the bank’s governors from contesting the Liberian Presidency, described Governor Jones as a savior of the people who is willing to ensure that poverty is alleviated and that the common people be empowered economically.
Rep. Roland pleaded with Governor Jones to extend his Village Saving and Loan Association (VSLA) to the women of his district and beyond and noted that for the first time in the history of Liberia, Governor Jones is the only Central Bank Governor who is reaching out to the common people with motive to help them fight poverty.
Delivering the keynote address at the Economic Empowerment Summit which was attended by thousands of citizens from Maryland County, CBL Governor Jones said for too long the people of Liberia have been poor and it is about time that something is done about this. “We must do something for ourselves and get out of poverty but this can be done through hard work,” Governor Jones told his audience.
He further noted that poverty has been too long with the Liberian people that one cannot see it anymore because they are used to it. “We must change this and if we have to move our country forward; you young people must learn the new trick because as the saying goes, you cannot teach an old dog new tricks,” he stated.
He said if Liberians continue to do things the same way, and things are not changing, then Liberians should do things the other way around for prompt transformation and result.
Governor Jones urged the young people of Liberia to take their education seriously and be obedient to the older generation as this is the way to a brighter future.
He said, “We’ve rain, rivers and other resources. We must use what God has given us to make our lives better.”
The next day, Thursday, April 3, Governor Jones and entourage proceeded to Barclayville, Grand Kru County where the Governor licensed the Grand Kru Rural Community Finance Institution which is under the management of the Afriland Bank with a call to the local people to utilize the facility by banking their money and paying back money credited to enable others benefit.
Governor Jones stressed, “We have to make the lives of the people of Grand Kru County better and simple economy says when you save; you invest, adding ‘it is good to save your money for economic growth.’”
The CBL Boss noted that the CBL and the Afriland Bank have done it with the creation of the rural finance institution but it is the determination and hard work of the people that will bring growth and better the lives of the people.
Cutting the ribbon to the rural finance institution, CBL Board of Governor member, Mr. John Bestman said, “During elections and the campaign for the ruling Unity Party (UP), we promised to help take our people out of poverty. Others are doing their job but why is it that others are complaining when we are doing our job in this regard?”
Mr. Bestman, a former Finance Minister, said Liberia is rich in resources and as such every citizen must enjoy the resources of country as it is the only way the middle class cannot be created
The people of Grand Kru who came in mass from all corners of the county lauded Governor Jones, the CBL and the Afriland bank and promised to ensure that the institution remains a viable entity. They especially praised the CBL Governor for initiating the financial institution and extending the Village Savings and Loan Association (VSLA) initiative to their areas.
On Friday, April 4, Governor Jones and party moved on to Fish Town, River Gee County where thousands of economic actors including rural women, traditional leaders, local farmers, Nurses, Students, Market women, members of the Federation of Road Transport Union of Liberia (FRTUL) and members of the National Petty Traders Union of Liberia (NAPTUL) based in the county welcomed the CBL Boss and showered praises on him for initiating the River Gee County Rural Community Financial Institution, which will also be Managed by the Afriland bank.
The citizens in Barclayville and Fish Town especially, noted that the opening of the two rural financial institutions would ease the problem of them going distance areas such as Pleebo or Zwedru to encash their salary checks least to utilize money transfer services such as Money-gram or Western Union.
Speaking in Fish Town, Governor Jones who received several gifts from the people said the fight against poverty must be the prerogative of all Liberians if the country must make significant stride in enhancing human development. He promised to increase the number of beneficiaries of the VSLA in the area.
The ceremony in FishTown which also brought together legislators, the county’s administration headed by Superintendent Daniel Johnson, the River Gee Motor Cyclist Riders Association, Teachers, youth groups, Credit Unions organizations was also characterized with praises for Governor Jones’ financial inclusion exercise.
Speaking in Fish Town, Governor Jones who also licensed the River Gee Rural Community Financial Institutions said the financial inclusion program is part of the Government of Liberia’s Agenda for Transformation which is intended to lift Liberians out of poverty and create a middle class.
He said Liberians must be empowered to uplift themselves by saving in these institutions and subsequently invest saying, “government should not be the larger employer but the private sector should.”
From Fish Town, the CBL Chief and party moved on to Zwedru, Grand Gedeh County where the offices of the Unity Saving Credit Union (USCU) Incorporated were dedicated by the Governor who said the Central Bank is more serious about creating a more inclusive financial system in Liberia.
Governor Jones said if Liberia is to build a strong economy or build an economy based on more equitable distribution of the country’s wealth or build a middle class and build a strong foundation for Liberia’s democracy, Liberians must be equipped financially.
He said this is not something that Liberians should be discussing whether it should be done or not because it is an imperative to do so.
He said the CBL is giving a helping hand to Liberians to help themselves, saying “we are not giving hand outs; we are not standing on the streets distributing money, instead we are trained and are working with the Village Saving and Loan Association (VSLA).
“We are trying to give a helping hand to our people to help themselves. For me and the Central Bank and members of the Board of Governors we see nothing wrong with that,” Governor Jones intimated.