Bad Policies: Benefits For Few + Sale Of Natural Resources Lead To Dictatorship Or Anarchy


By J. Yanqui Zaza

  The Perspective
Atlanta, Georgia
November 13, 2007

In accepting the idea that certain policies help to reduce anarchy or allow corporations to hire residents, thereby benefiting the entire population, many governments have a mixed economy, partly socialist and partly capitalist. For instance, Israel , a World Bank client, considering weapon production as a priority, owns and operates a not-for profit weapon corporation. Israel is supplying U.S. Marine Corps with state of the-art armored vehicles for use in Iraq (by Steve Weisman of the Associated Press, 3/5/07 ). So if food production is a security issue, why President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf is not instituting a new food policy? More so, investors, apparently not sure of making quick profits, have shown more interest in our natural resources then in food production. Further, it is easier to sell a new policy to the World Bank because it has admitted that its policies do not encourage third world countries to produce food.


Even the U.S. government, due to the fear of violence and massive layoffs, provides welfare for the poor and bails out failing corporations whose chief executives made bad choices. What’s about deficit? Deficit spending is necessary sometimes to finance priority programs. The war in Iraq is partially financed by borrowed funds. So why President Sirleaf did not delay the payment of the $6 million dollars owed to domestic creditors and use the money to keep more employees on the payroll which would help reduce the high crime rate? A reduction in crime rate is a good policy then the policy of paying some domestic creditors who are owners of buildings that government has been renting for more than forty years. Or better yet, why not use portion of the $300,000.00 super-salary, LPRC’s surplus and money allocated for some foreign travels and build, at least, mud-houses, thereby helping to reduce the cost of housing in the country?


In addition to the farm industry and forest industry that are inexpensive to operate, another industry that requires minimal investment and would also provide low skilled jobs for former combatants is the diamond industry. President Sirleaf said her government believes in privatization coupled with government’s limited role. However, if the Sierra Leone ’s experience is a yardstick, the Kimberly Process might not help Liberia yield adequate share of the profits of diamonds as long as foreign exporters or their local elites continue to manage our diamond industry. Lydia Polgreen of the NY Times reported that Sierra Leone , a neighboring country of Liberia , with similar economic, political and social conditions, received just 3% of the $141 million dollars exported in 2005, of course not including the smuggled diamonds. With weak regulations, diamonds exporters report fewer diamonds, but when the Kimberley Process is enforced, which are onerous, exporters turn to smuggling, making it difficult for any government to receive a fair share of the diamonds profits, Polgreen said. So if exporters know how best to invade and avoid the Kimberley Process, why President Sirleaf can not try the Botswana ’s diamond operating system since?


Predictably, President Sirleaf’s economic philosophy is based on imitating policies of the World Bank. But the World Bank created in 1944 is not a philanthropic institution as it professes to be. With about 10,000 employees at a Headquarters located few miles away from the White House in Washington D.C. , the Bank is also under the influence of big businesses since its money is borrowed from Wall Street. Obviously, the idea of exploiting natural resources of third world countries did not end after the colonial period. The only difference is that the World Bank and its affiliates have replaced European Governors. In fact, the FrontPage, a Liberian Web Site quoted a director of a Film (Guns…Greed…Genocide 29 million dead and counting) saying that President Richard Nixon can be heard giving his reason why Africa should be controlled, of course an alibi for exploiting Africa's resources.


If President Sirleaf is serious about not repeating the mistakes of the past, so why is she following the World Bank that encouraged Liberia to waste over hundreds of millions of dollars on Hotel Africa in Monrovia? Or why is President Sirleaf delaying the idea of a national conference to discuss policies, rather she has authorized an agency to plan our national policies such as arranging the sale of our natural resources? The Finance Minister, Dr. Antoinette Sayeh did disclose this year (according to J. Ebenezer Daygbor of the Analyst, a Liberian local newspaper) that the Liberia’s Extractive Industries Transparency Initiate (LEITI) is responsible to plan and insure that Liberia’s natural resources such as minerals, gas, oil, and forestry rights are awarded efficiently. If I may ask, is a good idea to privatize the process of awarding the bidding of our natural resources to profiteers? Are members or owners of LEITI accountable or loyal to the country?


President Sirleaf believes that privatizing our natural resources would generate adequate dividends, even it such policy ended up accumulating more wealth in the hands of the few, as we saw in the past. However, if our government’s recent negotiation, which netted $2,400,000.00 from the United States for the use of 20 acres of land, located in downtown, Monrovia for 100 years is an example of how our government is awarding concessions, then President Sirleaf's privatization policy is questionable. This is troubling because if an acre of land about 10 miles away form downtown should have a value of $2,700.00, then our government should not have settled for $1,200.00 per acre ($2,400,000.00/20 acres/100 years).


Does the President’s theory of privatization consider the idea that Liberians returning to ruined communities or employees affected by the rightsizing policy might not have adequate resources to compete with many of her supporters who own moneymaking properties? (See the Schedule showing, on the average, $40,000.00 paid for renting each of the 24 properties). Or why was it easy to lay off poor workers, but President Sirleaf finds it difficult to fire her advisors who are accused of corruption? As David Brook of the NY Times said, a government creates tensions and gets unequal results “…if it leaves unequally endowed people free to achieve…”


President Sirleaf and her $300,000.00 advisors do not just believe in the trickle-down concept (privatization), but do want a lean/small government, a view shared by the likes of Paul Wolfowitz, former president of the World Bank who resigned this year for over-paying his female friend. Proponents of this view usually do not prefer a government to undertake any activity, especially so if government’s management would prove efficient than a private entity. Consequently, President Sirleaf's insistence on implementing austerity measures, selling our natural resources to de facto owners and rejecting the idea of investing in industries that could provide low-skilled employment for many of our unskilled youths, would widen the gap between the haves and have-nots, a recipe for dictatorship or anarchy.


Schedule of payments for properties, including non-real estate properties, if any.

1.Min. of Ed.


9. Min. of Com.


17. Min  Justice




10. Forestry


18. Min. Defense


3. Min. Lands  M.


11. En. Agency


19. Civil Ser.


4. G. Audit C.


12. Youth/Sport


20. Agricultural


5. Budget Bureau


13. Min. Labor


21. L. I. P. A.


6. Min. of Info


14. Min Health


22. Bureau State


7. National E. C.


15. Min. Inter.


23. Min. P. Work


8. NSA


16. Lib. Inst. St


24. Min. Foreign









SOURCE: The 2006/2007 Budget Report by the Liberian Government.


Schedule of public Corporations, Commissions, and other semi-Gov. entities

1. Lib. Broadcasting

11. Intellectual Property

21. National Inv. Com

2. National Insurance

12. Agricultural Dev. Bank

22. Council of Eco. Advisor

3. Lib. Bank for Dev. & Inv

13. National Oil Co.

23. Lib. Rep. Rehab

4. Mano River Union

14. Lib. Ind. Pro. System

24. Human Rights

5. Lib. Copyright

15. Lib. Electricity Corp.

25. Governance Reform

6. Lib. Water & Sewer

16. Mon. Transit Authority

26. Permanent Claim

7. Lib. Industrial Free zone

17. Lib. Telecommunication

27. Truth & Reconciliation

8. Lib. Produce Market

18. National debt Task F.

28. Public Resource

9. National Housing

19. Bureau of Maritime

29. Lib. Recon & Dev.

10. Nat. Housing & saving

20. Lib. Agency for Com

30. Other Levels of Gov.


The 2006/2007 did not show rental payments for properties used by public corporations, Commissions, or semi-government entities.