December 2019: Father Johnny

For the month of December the Voice of Liberia is keeping its focus on Christmas in Liberia. We are keen on the economic crisis and security system in the country, vis-a-vis the development and living conditions of school going children.

From Street to School and Global Learning exists with the so purpose of developing students/children socially and academically, helping in school attendance and social development through workshops and students gathering. All this cannot be realized when there is economic instability, insecurity and social imbalances. 

A couple of months now the economy of our country Liberia remains very challenging.

Withdrawing money from the bank goes with rough shoulders. 

It is being purported that there isn’t sufficient local currency in the banks. People got to remain on long queue to collect their salaries and other income deposited at the bank. Even at that if the person for instance, for  2000 Liberian dollars in his/her at the time of withdrawal the person will be allowed to withdraw 500/1000 Liberian dollars (LD). Refusing this means that the customer won’t withdraw any money that day.

A certain lady inform while having a little chat said that she went to withdraw her salary of 7000 Liberian dollars from a certain bank but was asked to collect only 500LD. This is appalling!

Others were completely denied. This shows that there is a shortage of currency or Liberian dollars at both the banks. Many parents are unable to complete the payment of fees and catering to their homes because of the saga. 

Another friend few days ago, told me that he had only little snacks for two days because he couldn’t withdraw his salary  and monthly wage from the bank. Tension in the country is mountain as a result of this.

It is believed that the situation has also led government to be in arrears with civil servants. The government has promised to settle this in the sooner time possible to release the tension in the country.

The lack or the circulation of money engenders economic crisis. Sure crisis may hamper the security and fuel more gang of criminals. When there is no money parents are unable to sustain their home; children become beggars, street peddlers or thieves. Socially they are unbalanced. This is gradually creeping in Monrovia. We pray that it “flags” down.

The situation is affecting many people as the prepare for the festive season- Christmas. 

In fact a double edged sword faces parents and guardians during this economic crisis. On one side the sword pierces them for the payment of school fees and the others pierces them for Christmas presents and other stuffs for their kids and homes.  

The faces of many parents are always “frowned or moody” because of the crisis. 

With all this many Liberians are with the conviction that the government has plans to remedize the situation. Recently the local news papers reported that the government promised to pay civil servants salary arrears in few weeks. Payment has started. They maintained that by February 2020 all arrears will be settled.

So citizens complained that this isn’t enough. The government needs to create job opportunities, stabilize the prices of goods on the market, etc.

As stated the economic situation is stifling security in the country and has led to a planned protest- December 30 in Liberia. Many people are already insecure and are panicking.

As the saying goes “A hungry man is an angry” . The crisis is affecting – food and “physical security”. 

MANY YOUTH PROGRAMMES PLANNED FOR THE FESTIVE SEASON HAVE BEEN RECONSIDERED AND POSTPONED TO 2020. WITH THE PLANNED DECEMBER 30 PROTEST, THE SAFETY OF OUR STUDENTS COUNTS.  

THE PHYSICALLY CHALLENGED ARE STRUGGLING TO HAVE A MEAL A DAY. THE SITUATION HAS INCREASED THE NUMBER OF BEGGARS IN THE STREETS. 

MANY ARE PRAYING FOR THE GOVERNMENT’S INTERVENTION STRONGLY. WE STILL MAINTAIN THAT THE GOVERNMENT CONTINUES TO GIVE HOPE TO ITS PEOPLE. 

IT MUST BE NOTED THAT THE CRISIS CANNOT ONLY BE THROWN ON THE SHOULDERS OF THE  GOVERNMENT BUT TAX PAYERS AS WELL. ACCORDING REPORTS FROM THE LIBERIA REVENUE AUTHORITY(LRA), BETWEEN JUNE AND NOVEMBER THIS YEAR REVENUE GENERATION DROPPED DRASTICALLY. 

THIS MEANS THAT A GOOD NUMBER OF TAX PAYERS ARE NOT PAYING TAXES. THEIR REASONS ARE ENORMOUS. SOME SAY THAT WANT TO KNOW “WHAT IS THE GOVERNMENT DOING WITH THEIR TAXES AS IT RELATES DEVELOPMENT”. THE REPERCUSSION NOT PAYING TAXES HAS CREATED AN IMBALANCE ON THE SOCIAL CONTRACT. THIS IS ONE ASPECT THAT IS AFFECTING THE ECONOMY. ANOTHER IS WHAT WE MENTIONED INITIALLY. THERE IS A RUMOUR THAT SOME PEOPLE AREN’T BANKING THEIR MONEY AT THE BANK RATHER THEY KEEP IT AT HOME. THEIR REASONS VARY BUT WHATEVER THEY MAY BE IT’S AFFECTING THE CIRCULATION OF MONEY IN THE COUNTRY, HENCE FUELLING THE ECONOMIC CRISIS.

WITH ALL BE SAID THE CELEBRATION OF CHRISTMAS FOR MANY LIBERIAN REMAINS A DREAM! BUT, BEING PEOPLE OF RESILIENCE, THERE IS STILL HOPE THAT THE GOVERNMENT WILL INTERVENE AND PUT SMILE OF THE FACES OF CIVIL SERVANTS AND IST PEOPLE  BY SETTLING THEIR ARREARS AND  BALANCING THE ECONOMY BEFORE CHRISTMAS.

Here are the views of few students I talked with on the situation- I asked all of them to give their impression for this year’s Christmas amid the economic crisis and security situation in the country.

1. My name Patience Toe and l am 12 years.  I attend St. Peter school .  “the Christmas will be bad for my family because my parents have not completed paying my school fees and they also got pay the money credited from other  people. I don’t think they wiĺ bye my Christmas clothes.”

2.  I am  George Browne and I am  14 years old, from AGM school- ” I love Christmas time but this year things are very hard on my father. He doesn’t have a good job to do. His pay (salary) is very small to pay our school fees and do other things. I don’t know how he will get money for our food and clothes. 

 In school many children are also in my shoe(situation). Their parents don’t have money so we all will celebrate Christmas the same way. If we have food we will eat and play in the community.

We were happy that we could afford some goods for the students‘ families before christmas. For Christmas, Ididn’t meet any oft he students so there are no photos. The parcels were sent tot he guardians/parents for the kids. A good number of people celebrated home with their families and stayed oft he street. I celebrated it quetly with my family. Only telephone conversation I’d with some oft he students.

The demonstration didn’t go on today, the 11/30 as had been announced. I’m told the government didn’t give a full permit to those organising the protest. They’ve asked the organisers to reschedule it for January 2020.

https://www.arte.tv/de/videos/086963-000-A/liberia-im-5-jahr-nach-ebola/