Monrovia – Former Governor of the Central Bank of Liberia, Dr. Mills J. Jones, has accepted a petition from some citizens to contest the presidency in 2017 and he says job creation will be the watchword of his government, promising to lead a government that is business- friendly.
“Jobs that Liberians can do, will be done by Liberians,” he says, amid a thunderous applause from supporters.
“Ensuring Liberians become prime actors in the Liberian economy is an idea whose time has come. We will use fiscal policy, monetary policy, trade policy and investment policy to reinforce each other so that their total impact will advance Liberian participation and ensure greater ownership of the Liberian economy at all levels”, Jones declared.
At a colourful program marking his acceptance of a petition to contest the Presidency held on Wednesday May 25, 2016 at the Paynesville Town Hall, the former CBL Governor also promised that access to finance will be critical, along with building capacity of Liberian entrepreneurs through training and technical assistance.
He says small-scale manufacturing and agricultural development will be strongly encouraged while using innovative ways to build and maintain infrastructure. Such multi-pronged approach, he says, will be the basis for dealing with the scourge of unemployment.
Business as usual politicians
The former Governor maintains that the current government will never make a significant impact in reducing poverty in Liberia, or building a middle class until Liberians become meaningful players in their economy.
“I said this long ago, and have acted accordingly. Let the business-as-usual politicians, some who have been in power for ten years, follow suit with their usual talk. I am the one best suited to carry out this vision. I have the expertise; I have the heart; I have the will,” Jones said.
He also promised to change government approach to development from relying first on others to relying first on itself. “Our orientation will change from frustration and dependency to hope and self-reliant development. I believe that our international partners will welcome our self-initiative and home-grown economics and development agenda, and will work with us to gain greater results. Once they see that we are becoming drivers of our own development and not acting as helpless beggars.”
Commenting on Liberia’s education sector, the former Central Bank Governor promised that education policy and practices in his government will be geared toward providing the human resources needed to develop the economy and efficiently run institutions, while meaningfully investing in technical and vocational education.
“We will fix the “educational mess”, as it has been called by the present Administration, not by throwing our hands up and outsourcing the education of our young people but by investing in training our teachers better, paying them properly and respecting and appreciating them and by working closely with the entire educational system —public, private and parochial.
“We will encourage the participation of the communities especially parents, in the education of our young people. That is another reason why economic empowerment of our people is important. Round pegs will be put in round holes in the ministry of education. Liberia cannot afford the cost of a poor educational system. And when we say compulsory primary education for our young children, we mean to enforce it”, said Dr. Jones.
He furthered that under his administration, he intends to look into establishing a student loan initiative to provide funding to cover the cost of tuition and books at all accredited colleges, universities, and technical and trade schools.”
“Let’s keep in mind that the boy who sells bread in the streets today could be the next Liberian scientist. The girl who sells fish at ELWA junction today could be the next Liberian doctor. As a country we must provide the opportunity to them to move upwards”, added Dr. Jones.
He wants Liberia wake up to the reality that health care workers—doctors, nurses, physician assistants, technicians—should be properly trained and compensated.
“I said this long ago, and have acted accordingly. Let the business-as-usual politicians, some who have been in power for ten years, follow suit with their usual talk. I am the one best suited to carry out this vision. I have the expertise; I have the heart; I have the will,”
“We will set targets for the training of doctors and specialists, making this a part of our capacity building program that should be clearly identified in the national budget, as well as brought to the attention of our partners for support,” he mentioned.
The former CBL Governor continued “Health care must be woven into community development. Preventative care must actually become the centerpiece of our health care system. We must empower our communities, our local citizens, so they can be part of the overall system of health care and community development.”
On the issue of agriculture, he said as governor of the CBL he had warned in many Economic Management meetings that agriculture is key to national development, especially food production to ensure food security and save foreign exchange.
He said agricultural extension services will be made stronger, yield increases will be targeted, storage and processing facilities will be improved and farming communities will receive special attention.
He also promised to develop a new and productive partnership with the Legislature, and a different approach to coordination between the Executive and Legislative branches of government.
“We will encourage the modernization of the Legislature, including its research facilities. This is an example of what we mean by leadership of collective responsibility, a style of leadership that Liberia requires”, said Jones.
While serving as Governor of the CBL, a CBL loan program implemented by Dr. Jones was heavily criticized by lawmakers and some segments of the Liberian society as he accused of using the program to gain popularity in order to pursue his political agenda.
Dr. Jones persistently defended that the loan program was a genuine financial inclusion policy by the bank.
His declaration to contest the presidency has now settled long standing speculations over his nationwide tour during the later days of his tenure at the helm of bank where he visited towns and villages around the country pulling crowd. source Henry Karmo/FPA