MONTSERRADO, Monrovia – The speaker of the 54th National Legislature, Bhofal Chambers, has blamed former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf for the current economic hardship affecting the country.
Chambers accused Sirleaf of leaving behind an economy that would cause hardship and suffering to citizens.
“When you see a government coming asking for almost all the jobs to be based on tenure, then you should know there is a problem,” he said.
He accused the former president of putting in “measures that have derailed our economy.” The speaker, who served in the legislature during Sirleaf’s government and had to approve many decisions made by the president, further accused her of bringing in investors who did not mean well for the country.
He specifically referenced Buchanan Renewables Energy, which closed its operations prematurely, saying that the former president said the company was a U.S. investment interest, and that the U.S. government would have gone against Liberia if it did not consider approving the concession.
“Madam Sirleaf told us the BRE arrangement was a government-sponsored company for the United States and if not considered by the Liberian government, the U.S. government would have gone against the Liberian people, which I felt it was false information,” he said.
“Former Pres. Sirleaf told Liberians that BRE was a billionaire company and meant well for Liberians. In my view, I think this means there is only one person who want to be supreme even in her absence.”
He said it was, meanwhile, not astonishing when the company closed operations after cutting down several trees and leaving several Liberians hopeless.
The speaker’s comments come at a time the country’s is experiencing an economic turmoil, months after a new government headed by former soccer legend, George Weah, took office. The currency exchange rate between the U.S. dollar and the local currency has reached its highest peak in history and continues to increase, making life difficult for poorer citizens whose earnings are mainly in the local currency.
The costs of services and commodities have also similarly increased as the value of the Liberian dollar drops on the market.
There has been calls from some members of the opposition, including Liberty Party’s deputy chairman for political affairs, Darius Dillon, for the president to address the nation on the current state of the economy, but Weah, who promised that his administration would narrow the gap between the rich and poor, is yet to make any official comment.
University students under the banner of the Students Unification Party at the University of Liberia recently led a protest calling for a reduction in the currency exchange rate and the cost of services and commodities.
Meanwhile, the speaker has recommended that the country start using the U.S. dollar as the country’s legal tender as a permanent solution to the high inflation rate.
Chambers said with the U.S. dollar would provide Liberians with equal choice, opportunity, and access to the world market.
He added that until more Liberians can become bankers, inventors, scientists, manufacturer, and researchers – which would reflect having productive human capital like other countries, using the U.S. dollar remains the best option for Liberia.
“America is our friend, we have done a lot for America and can proudly say Liberia has contributed to the U.S. economy. Firestone has been here, and we have been good to them. Traditionally, we are friends. So, if we ask them to revert to their currency, I don’t think it will be problem,” he noted.
Montserrado’s 17th district representative, Hansan Kiazolu, has, however, asked the speaker to avoid discussing economic issues. According to Kiazolu, Chambers has a limited knowledge of fiscal issues.
According to OK FM, the Montserrado lawmaker said on Monday that the speaker’s proposal lacks economic strength and does not fit in any economic analysis that would improve the lives of citizens.
Instead, he said the current situation in the country requires a practical approach to address the harsh realities affecting the population. He also denied that Sirleaf was responsible for the current economic situation in the country.
Gbatemah Senah contributed to this article. Featured photo by Zeze Ballah