we cannot grow the Liberian economy, if we do not transition from a cash economy, to a credit economy. The most fundamental concept which a functional credit economy is based, is the ability to uniquely identify every individual participating in that economy, in a manner that is reliable and non-refutable, and the ability to tie every asset to one or more individuals based on that identifier
Dear Madam President,
As we approach the beginning of your 8th year in office, we need to examine the steps you need to take to place Liberia on a solid footing for growth, after you leave office.
As an Information Technology professional, my suggestions are based on the need for a unified and managed approach to the acquisition and implementation of technology for the government of Liberia.
In my opinion, this is the single most important legacy you can leave for Liberia, bar none.
As things currently stand, there is no central authority which manages all of the Information Technology initiatives of the government. Ministries implement their own systems, programs outside on their own and there is no professional oversight, neither is there the capacity for these systems to talk to each other. There are three things which can be implemented on very short order to begin to leverage the technology for the future.
1) Information Technology Management
The Government of Liberia should set up a government wide technology management agency, which will manage and oversee ALL technology projects for the government and the para-statals. Fortunately, Madam President, the laws of Liberia already provide for such an agency. The Bureau of Data Processing, currently under GSA, is, by law, in charge of all data processing systems within the Government of Liberia.
I recommend you second the Bureau of Data Processing as a stand alone entity, within the Office of the President, while at the same time begin to work on legislation to transform it into the Bureau of Information Technology, to be headed by a Chief Technology Officer, and contain:
- A shared services group - which will provide integrated architecture, development and implementation of all data systems within the government. Yes I do mean all.
- Database Management Group
- Network Infrastructure and Security Group
- Telecommunications Group
This Bureau of Information Technology will also examine all systems to ensure they meet the requirements of the National Security apparatus as well as the Records Management requirements of the Freedom of Information Act.
2) Growing the Liberian Economy
The government of Liberia must implement a single entity identifier, i.e. social security number, which NASSCorp already has the capacity to do, as well as a Business Entity Identifier. These were spelled out in a previous paper, entitled "A Protocol for Asset Declaration and Verification."
Madam President, we cannot grow the Liberian economy, if we do not transition from a cash economy, to a credit economy. The most fundamental concept which a functional credit economy is based, is the ability to uniquely identify every individual participating in that economy, in a manner that is reliable and non-refutable, and the ability to tie every asset to one or more individuals based on that identifier.
Yes there are more than 10 John Flomo's in Liberia; however, if each is assigned a social security number, it is possible to determine who each of them is, which assets each owns.
Today in Liberia, banks do not serve the economy because of the risks involved for lending. The biggest risk factor, faced by banks, is the inability to reliably determine each applicant's risk profile, his assets and his liabilities. It is ONLY possible to this by using the above mentioned unique identifier.
People cannot buy and sell property, raise capital, because it is not possible to reliably establish the ownership of a piece of property. Even with the current effort of the National Archives, which is digitizing all land records. It is still not possible to definitively determine ownership of a piece of property. The requirement that each property record be tied to a social security number, will allow property to be bought and sold in a reliable, irrefutable manner, which will lead to an explosion of capital investment.
The ability of banks to provide long term (20+) mortgage loans as well as automobile loans will also lead to an explosion of building construction and purchasing, putting many Liberians to work, while both increasing and expanding government revenue.
It will also have an impact on reducing corruption. You see, in a cash economy, I have to come up with $25,000 to purchase a car. In a credit economy, I may only need $5000 and a reasonable monthly payment. If I have to come up with $25000 at one time, where is the best place to find it?
3) Recruiting Talent
The government MUST establish a database of Liberian professionals in the Diaspora, who it can call on for assistance. There is no field of human endeavor, in which Liberians have not excelled. We cannot educate or teach our way out of the brain drain. Today much of the capacity gap, is being filled in by ex-pats, who while doing a admirable job, are in it for the furtherance of their careers after their Liberia assignments are over. In too many instances the cost for these services is too high, but Liberia has no say because the funding is being provided by "partners."
Now is the time for government to systematically begin to take ownership of these projects, to ensure their long term survivability, and the success of Liberia as a whole.
George K. Fahnbulleh