President Ellen Johnson -Sirleaf took over a country after her inauguration, that was financially suffocated and paralyzed, creating a need for the new government to come and put the necessary
framework in place to jump start the Liberian economy. The the public expected and prudently so, knew that with the experience of the incoming President, being a financial expert who worked in the financial circles, on the national and international levels , would promulgate policies that would target immediate needs for the rejuvenation of the economy.
Evidence from the Finance Ministry, specially the Comptroller’s office reveals a different story. Astonishingly, records from the Comptroller’s office show the first official financial transaction President Sirleaf authorized the Finance Ministry to execute as President of Liberia was to payout over 30 years back-pay to owners of public buildings under lease by the Liberian government which past governments before her failed to pay.
Officials at the Finance Ministry then, said upon receipt of the President’s order, they were disappointed in that they could not comprehend why the President’s first order of financial business was to authorize the Finance Ministry to payout over thirty years back-pay to owners of building being leased by the government which other governments before her couldn’t pay because they were cash- stripped but interestingly, it was her government which was in most dying need and insolvent could prioritize the payout using the minimum revenue she met in the coffers while putting on the back burner the urgent plight and needs of the Liberian people and country and elected to satisfy a few at the detriment of the larger public with the bare minimum revenue she met in the coffers.
Officials at the Finance Ministry at the time confided that by the President’s action, which they saw as not being in the best interest of the country, was a red flag and there, they sensed the country was headed off the cliff and Liberians were on a long and tumultuous corruption-ride and cronyism.
It is believed that the President placed priority on the payout of the over 30 year payback to owners of government leased buildings, rest on her personal interest and that of her relatives and friends because one of the beneficiaries of the back-pay payout was Estrada Bernard, the husband of the President’s sister.