President Sirleaf And World Bank Pay Super-Salaries, Layoff Poor Workers, Give Liberia's Resources To Profiteers. Why?

By J. Yanqui Zaza

The Perspective
Atlanta, Georgia
Posted October 19, 2007


The recent Hearing held by the Liberian Legislature might not have delved into the rationale why President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and the World Bank are paying $100,000.00 to $300,000.00 to few advisors of the President (NewDemocrat, May 8, 2007). The announced official reason, “…the International community's effort in attracting highly qualified experts in implementing the GEMAP,” is, to say the least, laughable. Certainly it is too soon to write off the efforts on the part of GEMAP, however, it appears that the war on corruption seem to be losing its steam for countless reasons. Did the U.S. Ambassador to Liberia (i.e., the Co-chairperson of GEMAP), not prejudice the investigation of the issue of incompetence alleged against a GEMAP representative assigned at the National Port Authority of Liberia? Or if President Sirleaf can not investigate allegations of corruption charged against some of her advisors detailed in the Audit submitted by external auditors hired by our International Partners, could she enforce any recommendations proposed by the Liberian Auditor General?

Ignoring genuine concerns raised by prominent individuals and organizations, our international partners such as the World Bank and the Transition Government of Liberia signed an agreement called Governance and Economic Management Assistance Programme (GEMAP). It is focused on 1) the securing of Liberia’s revenue base, 2) ensuring granting of concessions (i.e., selling our natural resources to profiteers), reducing corruption, etc.

As part of the agreement, external technicians were hired to work along with Liberian counterparts who would receive good salary. The school of thought is that a good salary would reduce corruption. However, if there is any doubt that such a theory is false, and excessive pay does not minimize corruption, then one should review numerous reports on criminal cases against chief executives on Wall Street. Or better yet, one should read the report on reasons why the former President of the World Bank, Paul Wolfowitz resigned after he admitted to allocating excessive salary for his female friend. Moreover, within the World Bank itself, high salary and, or academic credential has not help in reducing corruption. Paul A. Volcker, a former Federal Reserve chairman stated in his report that, “it was difficult to quantify the losses from bid-rigging, bribes, poor quality of good and service …affecting forty (40) percent of the bank’s programs.”
(Steven R. Weisman, NY Times, 09/ 13/07).

The World Bank, created in 1944, collects interest payments from poor countries for lending portion of the money, for example $200 billion dollars in 2006, it borrows from Wall Street investors. In short, it collects interest from its 177 member countries such as Liberia for its creditors. On October 1, 2004, the NY Time editorial piece stated that Nigeria, for instance, borrowed $5 billion, has paid back $16 billion, and still owes $32 billion dollars. This means Nigeria will pay $43 billion dollars ($32 plus $16 minus $5 equals $43) as interest expense. The debtor countries do not only pay interest, but ignore smaller-scale projects and undertake expensive projects, which results into purchasing materials and hiring consultants from the U.S. (Get more information on the Bank on Additionally, “U.S. Treasury Department officials calculate that for every U.S. $1 the U.S. contributes to international development banks, U.S. exporters win more than U.S. $2 in bank-financed contracts.”

Does a predator spare its prey? No. Rather it usually continues to search for better ways to capitalize on its prey’s loopholes and weaknesses. Obviously, the Bank knows that money spent on social programs is less money for its shareholders. Also statistics depict that the bank economic programs have helped create a “… net outflow of wealth from developing world, which has paid out five times as much capital to the industrial countries than it has received.” (Global Exchange). So in assuring that it receives this lopsided benefit from poor countries, the bank helps in ushering into power minority elites (militarists or oligarchs) who would be rewarded with quick cash and more debts in exchange of implementing bank policies. The bank’s interference does not end when it helps and puts a dictator into power. It also helps in training the police and military institutions, which usually suppress any opposition groups that would not tolerate blatant corruption and disastrous economic policies. (

It is true that the Bank’s policies such as privatization, structural adjustment, massive layoffs of low-paying employees, minimal investment in social events, etc might help poor countries pay their debts and make some citizens rich. However, those types of policies have worsened conditions for the majority in poor countries in South America, Africa, etc. Besides awarding excessive salaries for local technocrats, it propagates only the positive aspects of its policies. For example, in 1991, Lawrence Summers, then the World Bank’s chief economic analyst and later President William Jefferson Clinton’s Treasurer wrote an email supporting the positive aspects of practices by corporations to pay lower wages and dump their chemical waste in poor countries.
(NY Times, 9/24/07).

If the World Bank really intends to reduce corruption, why it failed to perform its fiduciary duty in accounting for the US$ 520 million funds raised in 2004 for social programs in Liberia? Yes it has sanctioned more money for Liberia’s military and high salary for few advisors, but it has not question why the government paid arrears in rent for government buildings and abated real estate taxes owed by Monrovia-landlords and allocate lower amount of funds for social programs. Also, if the Bank has no interest in ending the idea of downsizing, an ingredient for instability, how can it say that it is preventing instability by paying super-salary to fight corruption?

Now that the training has begun for the military and police institutions that are useful in crushing opposition groups against anti-people policies, scouting for elites to implement the Bank’s policies could also be in the pipeline. Predictably, if super-salary can help change minds of individuals who could have preferred to serve Liberia with a high sense of patriotism and nationalism, then the Bank has discovered a small number of its new recruits in Liberia. The World Bank and wicked profiteers need local agents who would perform functions of remnants and former members of the True Whig Party and facilitate the smooth transfer of Liberia’s wealth into the coffers of shareholders and creditors of the World Bank. Is it possible for Liberia to benefit form policies that are dictated to Liberia by investors through the World Bank , if those investors (i.e., indirect shareholders and advisors of the World Bank) are largely responsible for the United States’ $43 trillion dollar unfunded liabilities (NY Times, 9/28/07)?

© 2007 by The Perspective

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