Advocate of One-Cent Tax on Calls, Urey Promises Lowered Taxes if Elected President

HARBEL, Margibi – Benoni Urey, the political leader of the All Liberian Party, has promised to provide better lives and job opportunities for Liberians if elected as the country’s 23rd president in October.

Urey made the commitment on Sunday when he addressed a group of workers in Division 38 camp in Firestone at a ceremony to endorse the candidacy of Joseph Phillips to represent Margibi’s third district.

“What we will do for Liberia is to make Liberians’ lives better,” he said. “We want our people to wake up, because they’ve been sleeping long, and it’s time for them to improve their lives – and we will provide them the opportunity to improve their lives.”

Urey said if elected president, his administration would provide better jobs that would give more money to Liberians. He said this goal would be achieved in part due to the provision of improved quality education for young people. He also guaranteed better infrastructure.

“They will have better hospitals to go to, and they will have more roads and less costly food, especially the country’s staple food, rice, [of] which [the] cost is so high,” Urey said.

Residents of Division 38 camp in Firestone gather to hear Urey speak. Photo: Gbatemah Senah

Residents of Division 38 camp in Firestone gather to hear Urey speak. Photo: Gbatemah Senah

Urey said now is the time for citizens to stop paying for the luxurious lives of corrupt public officials.

“We will ensure that the taxes are lowered to provide incentives for businesses to operate,” he said. “Everywhere in the world, when prices reduce, the government is also supposed to reduce taxes to ensure that people are not laid off. [The government] has to provide incentives to businesses opened.”

According to the presidential hopeful, revenue cannot only be increased by increased taxes, but rather by creating and enabling an environment where people will invest.

“The more people come to invest, the more revenue the government can generate, and they will stimulate the economy and the industrial wheel will start turning once again, and we will say, ‘Oh, Liberia is coming back on track to where it used to be,’” Urey explained.

Urey’s statements to promote his candidacy runs counter to the reputation he has built and previous statements he has made.

In the past, he has been accused of profiting off his close ties with former President Charles Taylor and siphoning government funds for his personal gain.

Urey has also not exactly been known for populist ideas or policies. He previously called for the return of the freemasons to control the country politically as was done for decades in the past, excluding many Liberians of native descent and enriching and empowering their own members.

Moreover, contrary to his promise to lower taxes on citizens, Urey, who chairs the board of telecommunications company Lonestar Cell MTN, lobbied for a one-cent per minute tax on all phone calls “as an avenue for strengthening the economic gains of the country,” according to a Lonestar press release.

The imposition of the tax has angered Liberian consumers and is causing a public relations nightmare for Lonestar and is generating protests.

Concerning the upcoming voter registration exercise, Urey said while he understands that there are citizens who plan not to participate in the exercise because of the frustration with the current and past regimes, citizens must use this year’s election to change their own lives.

“Being angry with the system cannot change it, it only perpetuates it,” he said. “They must come down. They must sacrifice once more. Let’s give it another chance. I am appealing to them to come out and vote for a change.”

Joseph Phillips Jr., Margibi third District Representative Aspirant. Photo: Gbatemah Senah

Joseph Phillips Jr., Margibi third District Representative Aspirant. Photo: Gbatemah Senah

For his part, Phillips said his intention to run for a seat in the House of Representative stems from a desire to provide better workers’ representation in government.

“I am in this race because of the workers,” he said. “You too deserve a better life.”

Phillips encouraged residents of the district to get involved and take charge of their own destiny.

Meanwhile, the district’s former representative, Saah Richard Gbollie has announced his support for the All Liberian Party’s candidate. He informed the people of the district that he would not be a candidate in the October elections, but encouraged his supporters to vote for Phillips.

Featured photo by Gbatemah Senah

Gbatemah Senah

Senah is a graduate of the University of Liberia and a recipient of the Jonathan P. Hicks Scholarship for Mass Communications. Between 2017 and 2019, he won six excellent reporting awards from the Press Union of Liberia. They include a three-time Land Rights Reporter of the Year, one time Women's Rights Reporter of the Year, Legislative Reporter of the Year, and Human Rights Reporter of the Year.

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