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Mills Jones is not the problem: Repair the flawed Liberian political system

Tewroh-Wehtoe Sungbeh              J. Mills Jones

 

Central Bank Governor J. Mills Jones, who is not known for his politics, sent shockwaves into the heart of Liberian politics when his aggressive act of doling out micro loans to businesses came under attack from some legislators who saw it as a way of influencing potential voters and preparing him for the 2017 Liberian presidential race.

So troubled by Jones’ supposedly ‘covert’ gesture of implementing a key policy of his institution, the Liberian legislature, headed by Speaker Tyler, Senate Pro-tempore Gbezohngar Milton Findley, and other key members are mad as hell and are threatening to audit the Central Bank of Liberia.

As if the threat to audit the Central Bank of Liberia is not enough, Mr. Tyler and his colleagues also threatened to call for an amendment of the Act that created the Central Bank of Liberia.

Tyler and friends want to review it, and perhaps control and micromanage the internal functions of the bank as it relates to decision-making.

The emotional outbursts and mindless overreaction by these grown men and women who jumped all over themselves to act recklessly on Mills Jones’ unannounced presidential aspirations did not stop there.

The toothless and mostly Monrovia-based legislative body known for rampant corruption and overpaying itself for doing nothing, quickly jumped on the notion of voting on a selectively discriminatory senate bill that distinguishes itself as a “Stop Mills Jones Bill.”

Those legislators want us to believe that Mills Jones cynically manipulated the micro loan program at the Central Bank, when he gave out micro loans to struggling businesses to influence the 2017 presidential elections.

In their painfully narrow legislative minds, however, this is a ‘violation’ that warrants enacting a law that forbids such practice.

Part of the new law reads below:

“The Executive Governor of the Central Bank of Liberia and members of the Board of Governors are prohibited from contesting political office(s) while serving in their respective offices and shall not be qualified to contest any elected office within three years consecutively after the expiration of their tenure with the CBL.”

This particular law doesn’t make any sense at all; and it ought to be re-written or put in the trash bin.

The law is discriminatory and targets an individual, a bank Governor whom in the minds of most Liberians is doing exactly what he was hired to do; to help struggling businesses with micro loans. For those reasons alone, he shouldn’t be punished.

Truth is the recently enacted law is an embarrassingly terrible law with national implications that has traces of incompetence and pretentiousness in it.

Simply put, you don’t get fired for doing a good job.

However, if your boss thinks you deviated from policy when you failed to follow the proper procedures in implementing a policy, you are either asked to do it right the next time, you are reprimanded or fired.

As it is done in the US and in other developed countries, laws are put in place that bars former employees from lobbying their former employers for X number of years after leaving a particular job.

The law was implemented across the board to protect the interest of organizations from conflict of interest, and also to discourage those with inside knowledge of their former employers from quickly benefiting from what they know.

It is not a targeted law intended to pursue a particular person because of a narrow belief that the individual is a presidential favorite who has future presidential aspirations, as it is being whispered in Liberian political circles that Mills Jones is the heir apparent to the presidency.

If Mr. Jones is Madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s choice to succeed her in 2017, the right thing to do is to organize and formulate a unified winning strategy to defeat Mr. Jones.

Enacting a targeted law as if Mills Jones is not a Liberian, is discriminatory and un-Liberian.

However, the paranoid in Liberia right now stemming from the mindless illusion that J. Mills Jones, Central Bank Governor – quiet, bookworm – some will say ‘intellectual’ who perhaps never ran anything significant other than the institution he now heads, and has never dabbled into anything resembling organized national politics, suddenly has presidential aspirations to succeed Ellen Johnson Sirleaf in 2017, is mind boggling.

The Central Bank of Liberia was established by an Act of the Liberian Legislature in l999 to do among other things, do business with non-financial institutions to “foster monetary, credit and financial conditions conducive to orderly, balanced and sustained economic growth and development; management of aggregate credit in the economy by indirect means, by loan securitization, purchase and sale of securities, transactions in derivatives and foreign exchange and through the establishment of required reserves of commercial banks under its jurisdiction.”

I certainly will be on the side of those legislators right now demanding that Mills Jones be reprimanded if the decision to disburse those micro loans to struggling businesses were made singularly, and not with the consent of his five-member Board of Governors.

The question now is, did Mr. Jones put this crucial policy decision to a vote and got the blessings of his colleagues before implementing it? And did Alex Tyler and company rushed to act only to do more harm to the system?

J. Mills Jones, as far as I am concerned, is not a political threat; and seriously, is not the problem.

The problem is the flawed Liberian political system. It needs a complete overhaul.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Category: Editorial, Featured Articles, News Headlines

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