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Is Boakai’s 100 Days Plan Achievable? -As 3 More Gov’t Entities Spotlighted, Is Boakai’s 100 Days Plan Achievable?

By Bill W. Cooper
On February 20, 2024, this paper embarked on a series captioned “Who’s Tailored in Boakai’s 100 Days Plans? Senate Embarks on Appointees’ Confirmation.”
Joseph Nyuma Boakai, on January 22, 2024, was sworn in by Chief Justice Sie-A-Nyene Gyapay Youh as Liberia’s 26th President, on a 100-day promise with a mantra that states, ‘Build Liberia, Think Liberia, Love Liberia.’
Boakai’s first promises were specifically on the construction of major road networks across Liberia, revitalizing the agriculture sector, strengthening the rule of law, and increasing the fight against corruption, among several others.
With barely one month in office, the Boakai Unity Party-led administration seems to be taking shape; while Liberians’ expectations are on rebuilding the country’s economy, improving healthcare and access to quality education, but whatever the change in the UP-led government is, critics have begun counting his 100-day plan’s effectiveness.
Critics are keen on the ‘series of missteps’, including poor handling of Boakai’s inaugural activities, appointment of corrupt officials and illegal appointments, despite the enormous challenges his government inherited.
However, with the mishaps and expectation management slogan, Liberians are now wondering whether Boakai’s already commissioned officials would be able to fit into his plans effectively, with themselves expected to roll out their individual plans as promised, while before the legislators during confirmation.
The discussion is, will the starters of the Boakai-led government match his 100 days deliverables in the coming days and beyond, or are they just another bunch of eye-servants?
Our focus is placed on those who are peddling the ‘Agriculture, Roads, Rule of Law, Education, Sanitation and Tourism’ (ARREST) agenda in the Boakai-led administration.
In this edition, the Ministry of Education, the Liberia Revenue Authority (LRA), the Ministry of Commerce and Industry (MOCI), and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA), are spotlighted because they play significant roles if the UP-led government is to succeed in their quest.
In his first State of the Nation Address on January 29, President Boakai emphasized that education remains a beacon of hope, but the current educational system is nothing to boast about as it has seen a downward spiral over the years, leaving countless Liberians of school-going age semi-illiterate or without the requisite tools to prepare for their own future.
The President promised head-on that his government will invest in educational infrastructures and provide adequate resources as a means of confronting educational problems.
He added that education is not a privilege but a fundamental right, which his administration will not turn a blind-eye to because the fact is that a significant portion of the citizenry are struggling for access to quality education.
Jarso Maley Jallah, who assumed the position of Liberia’s Education Minister under such circumstances, is knowledgeable that the nation’s education sector faces compound-complex challenges, but highlighted the cause as low budgetary support to the sector.
Even though Boakai did not clearly explain how his administration would revamp the country’s fragile education sector, Jarso, during her confirmation hearing, was clear that much will be achieved if the Senate took into consideration the budgetary support for the sector.
Apparently, her expectation of buttressing the Liberian leader’s quest regarding reforming the educational sector, in terms of contribution to the ARREST agenda, Minister Jarso stressed that if Liberians are to feel advancement in the education system, it is much achievable with adequate budgetary support.
Statistically, the current national budgetary allocation to Education lingers between 11 percent to 14 percent annually, with the total percentage of government expenditure on education at 11.19 percent.
Min. Jallah promised to focus on strengthening learning outcomes in secondary education, especially in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) subjects, adding, “We are committed to reducing the gender gap at all educational levels, both in terms of student enrolment and teacher recruitment, ensuring equal opportunities for all.”
Foreign Minister, Sarah Beysolow Nyanti’s observation is that rebranding Liberia’s foreign policy would be a challenging task amidst the many challenges facing the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA), a burden which seems contrary to President Boakai’s vision for Liberia’s Foreign Policy.
President Boakai, who does not see a far-fetched improvement in the foreign sector, said Liberia will continue to foster cordial relationships with other countries among the comity of nations, as he boasts of maintaining current membership with multilateral organizations like the United Nations, ECOWAS, Mano River Union, and the African Union.
He added that his administration will continue to pursue a policy of good neighborliness as Liberia maintains peaceful coexistence with its immediate neighbors, noting, “As a nation with a proud history of regional leadership, Liberia’s stance among the comity of nations is undermined when we fail to meet our obligations as a sovereign state.”
However, one of her most achievable moves since her ascendency to the Foreign Ministry is to ensure that the rules and regulations of the foreign service manual are upheld, as well as improve the living and working conditions of those in foreign missions; something President Boakai stressed his government will work with the Legislature to ensure their arrears are settled.
She set up a special committee tasked to review concerns and challenges raised by Foreign Missions. The committee’s role is to probe the recent placement of Foreign Service Officers to their various Missions between July 2023 and February 2024.
“The establishment of this Special Committee underscores our dedication to fostering a dynamic and responsive diplomatic corps and I believe that this initiative will contribute to the continuous improvement of our Foreign Service operations,” the Foreign Minister asserted.
Minister Nyanti expressed her firm determination to leverage her expertise gained during her service at the United Nations (UN) in transforming the country’s foreign relations, indicating, “Rebranding Liberia’s foreign Policy is a difficult task, but I promise to use my position to transform our country’s foreign policy like I did in other countries while working for the UN.”
True to her promise, Madam Nyanti recently represented President Boakai at the AU Heads of states conference in Ethiopia, reaffirming Liberia’s commitment.
Another key area of concern of the Boakai-led administration is the Liberia Revenue Authority (LRA), though not mentioned in his State of the Nation Address (SONA), but nothing is achievable without finance.
The President noted the inflation during the period 2023 that rose to 10.1 percent at the end of December, from 7.6 percent in 2022, while revenue collection reported for 2023 stood at US$710.23m and expenditure totaled US$796.32m; inheriting a large budget deficit of over US$80m.
He added, “We intend to change this state of the economy by thinking outside the box; a paradigm shift away from reliance on primary commodity export to focusing on value addition with the private sector as the engine to drive the economy.”
LRA Commissioner General, Dorbor Jallah, treading on a clear legacy laid down by his predecessor, said “One of the things we are going to be looking at is how to increase efficiency. On ways as to how we can lessen the burden on our people by increasing efficiency in the port operations, we will go in there to identify what the bottlenecks are.”
“We will work with MEDTECH and other stakeholders, including the Brokers’ Association and all parties to see how we can streamline those processes that are causing the delay, and to ensure that people do not incur too much unnecessary charges on the account of the delay in clearing their goods,” he noted.
Jallah, however, committed himself to knowing and understanding the issues so as to be able to increase efficiency, emphasizing, “I will give myself three months in order to ensure that during the turn over time, it will be much less.”
“Also, we will look at enforcing the LPRC Act that authorizes Liberia Petroleum Corporation to be the sole government agency for the importation of petroleum.
By so doing he indicated that the LRA can raise more revenue from the LPRC than projected, adding that the importation of petroleum by private companies is due to concession agreements signed with the importing companies,” he added.
Dorbor, who seems to have prior knowledge of the sector, also called for revision of these concession agreements for deeper analysis of the prevailing situation to reach an informed decision on cancelling them or continuing with.
He added, “My suggestion is that when the Legislature is reviewing concession agreements with the NIC and the concessionaires, the tax authority should be at the table and the fiscal policy authority should also be at the table so that we will do the analysis and look at the opportunity cost – meaning that we need to dive deeper into the cost analysis before we make commitments.”
Like the LRA, President Boakai was not also explicit in his plans for the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, but stated that under his administration, the empowerment of Liberian entrepreneurship, through more support, will help bring back the ‘Made in Liberia’ quest for inclusive and sustainable growth and jobs.
While on industry, Commerce Minister, Amin Modad, told the confirmation hearing that he vows to institute a comprehensive system of pricing of major commodities on a regular basis to prevent undue profiteering at the detriment of the Liberians.
He assured that global trade intelligence system would be used to discourage huge profiteering, for the benefit of only local and foreign importers of goods into the country when confirmed by the Senate.
But just when he said the system will ensure that commodities are not sold at exorbitant prices, which will discourage additional hardship on the already impoverished masses, the price of rice, Liberia’s staple food, is in crisis under his watch.
Though he understands that the cost of various commodities may vary on the Liberian market due to geographic locations and others, Modad said no business owner will arbitrarily increase the prices of goods above the stipulated prices that would be issued by the Ministry under his leadership.
He however promised to ensure that goods coming into Liberia meet international standards for the benefit of Liberian consumers, and asserted, “I understand that there will be some high costs at times to compensate businesses and infrastructure or other deficits.”
“But this doesn’t mean that it (price hiking) should be to the detriment of the people. Price hiking is totally unacceptable. Essential commodity like cement or building materials, rice and petroleum, we are going to be analyzing those costs that we expect merchants to add to compensate for that,” he added.
This edition puts to the spotlight eight of the over one thousand nominees, whose important roles, as they may be, if not handled with care and eagerness to deliver, could smash the Boakai-led administration’s agenda before the game begins.
Watch out for the next edition as this paper reminds those already fitted in or out of the ARREST Agenda by statements from the lieutenants as they take offices in the first half of Boakai’s government and his 100-day deliverables.

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