Liberia’s new President George Weah, in a nationwide address on Monday, has pledged to cut his own salary by a quarter warning of tough times ahead for a “broke” country.
“The state of the economy that my administration inherited leaves a lot to do and to be decided,” he said in his address that was aimed at lowering high expectations following his election victory at the end of last year to replace Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.
“Our economy is broken; our government is broke. Our currency is in free fall; inflation is rising,” Weah said. “Unemployment is at an unprecedented high and our foreign reserves are at an all-time low”.
The former international soccer star who promised a crackdown on endemic corruption as he was sworn in a week ago to the cheers of thousands of exuberant supporters crammed into a stadium in the capital, Monrovia has been at pains to show just how daunting he understands the task ahead to be.
“In view of the very rapidly deteriorating situation of the economy, I am informing you today, with immediate effect, that I will reduce my salary and benefits by 25 percent,” Weah said, pledging the savings to a development fund for Liberia.
This move is likely to go down well on a continent long used to officials in high office awarding themselves fabulous pay rises and perks.
Weah has pledged a $3 billion coastal road project that would link the capital to its remote southeast despite his avowedly grim outlook on the economy.
“This is going to be very challenging,” he said. “But I am convinced that with the assistance of friendly governments and institutions this can be achieved before the end of my tenure.”