Activist Group Frowns on Gov’t for Reducing Key Ministries’ Budget

MONROVIA, Montserrado – A group known as the Economic Freedom Fighters of Liberia has voiced its disapproval with Pres. George Weah’s decision to reduce the budget of the several ministries and agencies in his recast budget submitted to the legislature.

The group named the affected government ministries and agencies as the Ministry of Agriculture, the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, and the John F. Kennedy Medical Center.

Emmanuel Gonquoi, head of the EFFL, addressed a news conference on Tuesday where he described the president’s decision as a direct contradiction of his government’s pro-poor agenda.

“The recasting of the budget was a unique platform for Weah to illustrate his assurance to the ordinary Liberians that his administration is ready for business,” Gonquoi said.

He noted that reducing the budget of the Agriculture Ministry from US$6,026,429 to US$5,321,457 and the Health Ministry from US$75,617,974 to US$72,224,058 is tantamount to decreasing the two ministries to a level of dormancy due to the lack of funds.

“The recast budget was undoubtedly the single biggest opportunity for the CDC government to demonstrate its commitment to its pro-poor agenda, which is now the mantra of its administration,” he said.

“Even if these reductions are not considerable, they send the message that the Weah administration is not committed to the pro-poor agenda that is being trumpeted by his followers and supporters.”

According to him, the CDC government seems to be preaching pro-poor and practicing what he called ‘pro-rich’ policies.

Gonquoi said that Liberians are fully aware of the economic constraints that necessitated the need to adjust the appropriations to various ministries and agencies but stressed that such adjustments should not affect any strategic and vital sectors of the economy, especially when the government is preaching a pro-poor agenda. He called the Health and Agriculture Ministries “an essential part of the government functionaries.”

Gonquoi pointed out that the reductions were disturbing given that the CDC government gave US$500,000 to Clar Weah, wife of the president, for humanitarian services – an amount he said that was similar to what was given to the JFK Medical Center.

Gonquoi further said it was disheartening to note that after the president promised to cut his unknown benefits by 25 percent, he plans to use US$4 million in less than four months on presidential activities.

“This is not only unpatriotic but awful and unthinkable on the part of a man who presented himself to the people as the real solution to our national social-economic bereavement,” Gonquoi said.

Featured photo by Zeze Ballah

Zeze Ballah

Zeze made his journalism debut as a high school reporter at the LAMCO Area School System. In 2016 and 2017, the Press Union of Liberia awarded Zeze with the Photojournalist of the Year award. Zeze was also the union's 2017 Health Reporter of the Year. He is a Health Journalism Fellow with Internews.

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