A damning report by the international environmental watchdog, Global Witness on Liberia’s forest sector has indicted powerful politicians here for evading taxes, lying, cheating, plundering and profiting from the country’s forest.
The report reveals that Liberian politicians, who own logging companies in the country, hide their identities and profit from contracts that cover huge swathes of forest. It urges Liberians to hold politicians and loggers, who are exploiting the country’s forest accountable for their action.
GW details how logging companies that failed to pay taxes currently owe an immense US$25 million to the cash-strapped Liberian government, stressing that if said amount were paid, it would amount to nearly five percent of the country’s entire budget.
Although the report mentions no names, but the disclosure is actually disgusting and disappointing especially, for people who want to occupy national leadership. How could politicians ever provide better leadership when their hands are covered in unscrupulous businesses that rub the country of legitimate taxes and deny citizens social benefits for resources extracted from their communities?
They drain the country’s wealth, milk themselves and their immediate and extended families at the detriment of the greater society, but get on the airwaves of radio and television stations, promising to deliver heaven on earth and lift the same people they rob out of poverty. Sheer rhetoric!
Now that elections are coming, politicians are again lining up with flowery promises, banging on the doors of electorates to vote them to power. But these are the same people they refuse to pay even after working for them. They are now clamoring to preside over a country whose resources they continue to plunder thru unscrupulous contracts, hiding their real identities to evade taxes.
It is about time that Liberians shine their eyes and perhaps develop a third eye to begin to thoroughly scrutinize politicians who want to become president or representatives by checking their track-records to know their past deals.
Some are seeking re-election in constituencies where they haven’t sowed a grain for the past nearly six years, while new aspirants think leadership is about selves rather than the interest of the people.
For instance, the report further reveals that during the civil war here, which ended in 2003, logging companies propped up the regime of ex-president Charles Taylor, including trafficking arms on behalf of Mr. Taylor. It is no secret that some of those officials from the Taylor era operated private logging companies here. Today, they occupy the first branch of the Liberian government as lawmakers, after they used money gotten thru dubious businesses to bribe the people to elect them so that they can have the opportunity to conceal their real identity.
We like to caution all Liberians especially, potential voters currently participating in the ongoing voter registration exercise across the country that they would have themselves to blame in the next six years if they traded their votes to politicians for peanuts, because the entire country would continue to wallop in stinking poverty and the citizens remain dirt poor by their action or inaction at the polls on October 10th.