- Published on Wednesday, 19 December 2012 07:21
- Written by Joseph B. Abban
I want to begin this paper with thanking President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf for the idea to establish a participatory process leading to the development of a national long term perspective and national vision project that would foster reconciliation, national cohesion and self-reliant, sustainable and equitable development.
Since following the conclusion of the Accra Comprehensive Peace Agreement of 2003, President Johnson-Sirleaf kept her eyes on a long term national vision in Liberia 2030, a project that would assist in building a national consensus on where our nation ought to be in the year 2030. A Draft Vision Statement (designed to provide a long-term framework for decision makers, leaders of all levels of society and development in the public, private and civil society organization sectors, a document that is to serve as a reference point, a compass and guide to the identification of the concrete national policies, and the analysis of the key constraints that need to be overcome in the short and medium term in order to operationalize the vision) was submitted to President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf in the National Vision Conference convened in Gbarnga, Bong County, that assembled more than 500 delegates from all counties, the Liberian Diaspora and Observers from the International Community, on December 11, 2012. We think it is
a recognizable effort on the part of the President (as an individual) and all who worked around her ideas that is to be a national vision leading up to 2030. We applaud the President and her friends.
However, (those flowery and beautiful pictures that were drawn by both ministers: Hon. Blamo Nelson of the Ministry of Internal Affairs in the presentation of the National Reconciliation Roadmap, and Hon. Amara M. Konneh of the Ministry of Finance (and Planning and Economic Affairs) in presentation of the Agenda for Transformation (AFT) of how Liberia will be in 2030), I do not see Vision 2030 implementable, unless the Government abolishes the Ministry of Public works philosophy: “More Day More Dollar” attitudes in the governance process of our country. To develop a clear-post-conference implementation, coordination and monitoring and evaluation mechanism that support the achievement of the Vision, President Johnson-Sirleaf has to see the “Court” – (the Judiciary Branch of Government) as the arm of Government with the constitutional responsibility to ensuring that the document becomes a reference point, a compass and guide to the identification of concrete national policies. It is the “court” that can analyze
the key constraints that need to be overcome in order to operationalize the vision. But President Johnson-Sirleaf expressed fear for the role of the court in Vision 2030 has left me with no impression than the same old scheme, the Ministry of Public Works philosophy: “More Day More Dollar”.
Minister Amara M. Konneh projected the vision through his power pointer that, the “small light today big light tomorrow' vision as: 2006 – 2011 was the today for small light. Though we were told that within this period, the pre-war light (small light today) to Monrovia and its environs through the rehabilitation of the Mount Coffee Hydro Plant would have been top priority, only few turbines, the government, through LEC (a semiprivate entity) has been able to get running, despite all the budgetary allocations under the given period (2006 -2011, the life of the Ellen government first term) could have had Mount Coffee Hydro operational (as the small light today)for Monrovia and its environs (and the big light tomorrow be the whole country); but Minister Konneh says again, that Mount Coffee plant is at the top priorities in Vision 2030; that, within five years (2012-2017, the remaining life spent of the Ellen Government second and final term, according to Article 50 of the 1986 Constitution: “No Person shall serv
e as President for more than two terms”) Mount Coffee Hydro Plant will be rehabilitated. (More Day More Dollar)
More Day More Dollar Philosophy:
If you measure the level of work done per-time against cost, you will realize that the “More Day More Dollar philosophy puts plenty free government money into private pockets. This is how the scheme works:
A job that should be done in a day or two is done in weeks. The spending of so much unnecessary wasted time to do public projects takes you into the natural impeder – the rainy season – and also at the end of the fiscal budget. Once the budget year elapses, whatever is left over becomes a reward for state actors – (More Day More Dollars: Note: a new fiscal budget will be raised for the same project at the beginning of the next dry season.)
Ensuring the implementation of plans in a democratic governing political system is the responsibility of the Judiciary Branch of Government. The role of the “Court” must take the center-stage, if Vision 2030 is not to be impeded in its execution. All the constraints that made the historical challenges not to be overcome is because the Judiciary Branch of Government is only half constituted, since the second Republic.
To ensure a robust policy environment that will strengthen interagency coordination, regimes of accountability, and a strong political will and commitment from national state actors, the Judiciary Branch of Government has to be fully constituted by the Government. President Johnson-Sirleaf has a fear to do so, because, government will be taken to “Court” and she does not want that. Therefore, “More Day More Dollar” continues.
If this 2012 Government (This Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf second term Government) is not a More day More Dollar programmer government, than it will constitute “Claims Courts” to make the Judiciary a completed Branch of the Government. The absence of “Claims Courts” is to not be able to address constraining factors to the implementation of Vision 2030, and it means, “More Day More Dollar”.
The president's expressed fear of not taken the Government to court, so Vision 2030 should not be legislated is very troubling. How will this vision serve as a reference point, a compass and guide beyond 2017, the life of this Government with the vision? Except it becomes a law, that the next Government, up to 2030, uses the vision as a reference point, a compass and guide; or else, the vision will die after 2017. But the President's fear of not being able to take Government to court for failure to implement the vision will speaks of the “More Day More Dollar philosophy”. This means, the Judiciary Branch remains incomplete under her Government. “Claims Courts”, according to “Article 34:e” of the 1986 Constitution of the Republic of Liberia may not be constituted, so that, her Government will not be challenged in court.(Very unfortunate)
If today, “Claims Court” is constituted anywhere in the country, I will be the first to take the Ministry of Public Works to court to ascertain (in Dollars and cents) the actual amount expended on road projects that every budget year, the same roads are re-done within new budget allotment. How come roads built before the civil war – up to now – are yet accessible (the roads in Bersonville); but, road built by this government through the Ministry of Public Works cannot go beyond a budget year? Example: since this Government came to power, every budget year, the SKD Boulevard is rehabilitated. (More Day More Dollar)
Vision 2030 is going to be impeded by the “More Day More Dollar” philosophy. Due to the fact that there is no court to being suit for appropriate redress against Government or any person acting under the authority of Government for injuries or the contravention of rights of person (s) or association (s), there can be no strong political will and commitment from national state actors.
The Judiciary Branch of Government is the political institution with the prescribed jurisdictional powers for the proper administration of justice throughout the Republic. Article 34:e says two inferior courts to the Supreme Court be constituted to include: “Circuit Courts” and “Claims Court”. Circuit Courts have been constituted; what should prevent the constitution of Claims Courts?
The question is, who is taken to court? Only the wrongdoers are taken to court. Should one do wrong and not be taken to court? If the Government does right, will the Government be taken to court? But, when the Government does wrong, why shouldn't the Government be taken to court? (The president's fear)
Do you now see why corruption is rampant in this Government and with impunity? No court to take the Government, or any person acting under the authority of the Government. Article 26 of the 1986 Constitution says: “….All such suits brought against the Government shall originate in a Claims Court; appeals from judgment of the Claims Court shall lie directly to the Supreme Court”. No “Claims Court”, no taking Government to court. (The only safe haven for corrupt government and corrupt state actors is the absence of Claims Court.)
“More Day More Dollar Philosophy” goes unchecked due to the absence of Claims Courts. Projects that are to be done in one week take between three to seven months. The deliberate delay is intended to create “More Day”. The elapsing of the budget year without the project being completed creates “More Dollars” for state actors (the brains behind the philosophy).
President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf fear for not taking her Government to “Court” has warranted Vision 2030 to becoming a “More Day More Dollar Program”.