Leaders of Liberians in the Diaspora representing the major Liberian regional umbrella organizations around the world have issued a unanimous stance with a resolute warning announcing the suspension of remittances to Liberia if plans are implemented by government to dramatically change the rate of exchange of remittances sent to Liberia from 75% United States Dollars to 100% Liberian Dollars.
In a swift but strong-worded statement issued over the weekend, the leaders declared “we the Leaders of the All Liberian Conference do hereby declare that if such a proposal is considered by the GOL to decrease the current rate of delivery of remittances to our people we will respond with an immediate notice of suspension of all remittances to Liberia by Liberians in the Diaspora.”
The declaration was contained in a joint statement issued by the All Liberian Conference of Diaspora Leaders which include President Vamba Fofana of the Union of Liberian Associations in the Americas (ULAA), President Kingston Washington Wleh of the European Federation of Liberian Associations (EFLA), President Mohammed Salia Dukuly of the Federation of Liberian Communities in Australia (FOLICA), President Willie k. Kamara of the Conference of Liberian Organizations in the Southwestern United States (COLOSUS), President Julia Mardea Richards of the United Liberian Association Ghana (ULAG), and with Chairman John F. Lloyd of the Coalition of Concerned Liberians, (CCL).
The leaders observed, “at this critical moment of stringent economic conditions in our nation, our attention have been drawn to a proposal currently being considered by the Government of Liberia to enforce a new policy intended to dramatically change the delivery of remittances sent to Liberia from 75 percent U.S. Dollars to a new rate of 100 percent Liberian dollars in order to meet budgetary shortfalls. As leaders of Liberians in the Diaspora we are indeed aware of existing economic constraints faced by our nation, and hope that reasonable avenues can be found to address the many hurdles they present without reaching into the depleted coffers of our people. “
This dramatic announcement by the Liberian Diaspora leaders, if implemented, will mark a major blow to the Liberian economy and government operations. Over the past decade, Liberians abroad have transferred an estimated U.S. 4.5 billion dollars in remittances to Liberia, and much more through a wide range of self-help initiatives through hundreds of Liberian organizations in the Diaspora.
The most recent World Bank report indicate inflows of approximately $433 Million representing 31% of Liberia’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2018 alone. According to the World Bank, and the Liberia Institute for Statistics and Geo-Information Services (LISGIS), remittances from Liberians in the Diaspora account for the largest percentage of Liberia’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) – more than any country in Sub-Saharan Africa.
They explained “we also recognize that for many of our compatriots and their families in Liberia who struggle daily to subsist in tough times, our assistance offers the only chance for survival. We also seek to echo the concerns of hundreds of thousands of our fellow Liberians abroad who remain severely disenchanted by the prospect of increased deprivation upon their families and friends at home through such a measure.
In this connection, the leaders expressed disappointment over the failure of the government to attract the contribution of her Diaspora thorough meaning policies including dual citizenship. They noted, “At this critical juncture, the world expects us as a nation to employ every resource at our disposal towards the ultimate goal of national reconstruction. In times of severe economic hardships, our nation has managed to keep its head above the water through the contribution made by her nationals in the Diaspora. Despite the unwavering commitment shown by her nationals in the Diaspora in this modern era of globalization, Liberia still remains behind on the issue of dual citizenship. In Liberia, this key element of economic reconstruction, remains hanging on the backburner of national priorities while other nations have forged ahead.”
The leaders continued, “While it is evident that a deep resource pool remains available abroad, the leaders of our nation, by inaction, have remained uncommitted to this cause. As leaders of Liberians in the Diaspora, we have reached a crucial moment of reckoning. After 14 years of support in the period of instability, followed by 16 years increased aid in the period of transition, and reconstruction, we as Leaders of Liberians in the Diaspora have taken stock of the critical role we continue to play as a cornerstone of progress and survival of our nation. Our fair demand is that a commensurate value or premium be placed upon the invaluable role we play as partners in the progress of our nation, and people.
They concluded, “We hold firm to our position with the conviction that it is within the best interest of our people that we strive together for the common good of Liberia. As partners in progress, we remain available to work with our government and people to derive just and reasonable solutions for economic progress, and where necessary, mobilize resources to alleviate the existing challenges of our nation.”