Former finance Minister Identifies Liberia's Problems
Posted October 7, 2003
Former Finance Minister Nathaniel Barnes says the root cause of Liberia’s problems is poverty and illiteracy; as Timothy T. Seaklon reports.
Mr. Barnes said Liberia must embrace change in its entirety with a focus on the positive outcome of reducing poverty by raising the standard of living of all.
He said, "if we are destined to rise out of the mess we have brought upon ourselves, we must adopt an approach that radically changes our current system with the aim of a better and improved life for all Liberians".
Delivering the keynote address at programs marking the celebration of the International Day of the Old People held recently at the SKD Sports Complex, Mr. Barnes said Liberians must change their politics, priorities, confront reality and make sacrifices for the betterment of society.
Mr. Barnes, a financial expert by training, said "we must introduce in Liberia what I refer to as the politics of caring. We must care for each other by exercising compassion for those members of society that are less-fortunate."
Speaking further, Mr. Barnes said "We must stop the use of violence whether it is to destroy or preserve the status quo. We must also create an investment-friendly atmosphere punctuated by transparency and predictability, focus on the health and education of our population."
Mr. Barnes commended the international community for coming to the aid of Liberia again, noting that the incredible personal and national sacrifices they are making are clearly understood and deeply appreciated by all Liberians.
He then urged the international community to empower professional Liberians, saying " we Liberians are drivers, architects, accountants, economists and we are anxious to ensure that genuine technology transfer which you bring, stay when you leave."
Touching on the civil conflict, Mr. Barnes wondered what kind of people Liberians are that they inflict serious and grievous wounds on themselves.
"Our young people are largely illiterate, they know only violence, child prostitution is rampant, diseases are approaching epidemic proportion, while private and public institutions are broken down", he reiterated.
Mr. Barnes then cautioned Liberians never to let their national self-esteem fall so low that they are taken to the verge of self-destruction.