SORRY MADAM PRESIDENT, WE, TOO, ARE BOYCOTTING PRESS CONFERENCE TODAY
Failure on the part of the Ministry of Finance and a number of government institutions to pay media institutions, including FrontPageAfrica, advertising debts owed leaves us with no alternative but to join the New Democrat in Taking this stance today.
FOR MONTHS now, media institutions in Liberia have been pleading with government ministries and agencies to pay debts owed for services rendered to no avail.
SOME GOVERNMENT agencies owe between $US10 and $20,000 to newspapers and radio stations but have found it difficult to get government institutions to pay up.
THE PRESIDENT, has on a number of occasions reminded and even demanded that the Ministry of Finance and government institutions pay but nothing has been done to alleviate the problem.
THE PUBLISHERS’ ASSOCIATION too has to date issued one ultimatum to government to pay up, but that too has fallen on deaf ears. Now even the publishers are planning another meeting to decide how to proceed.
AS WE STATED before, this is not a matter that requires too much discussion. The simple solution for us is to take a new approach in dealing with government institutions: Require them to pay in advance before publishing their advertisements and announcements and boycott further publication of adverts until those debts are settled.
IN RECENT DAYS, there have been several conflicting accounts and blame shifting on the matter over why the debts remain unpaid.
ON THE ONE HAND, the Finance ministry contends that some media institutions were not asked to publish certain adverts so they should not be paid. Our position here is, weed them out and pay those who were asked to publish.
THE FINANCE Ministry has also contended that some government ministries and agencies have simply not submitted their bills for payments. Our position here is, remind them of the President’s demand to pay media institutions.
SADLY, SOME media institutions have followed the book, played the rules submitted the documents requested and simply tried to do the right thing. Sadly, the Ministry of Finance continues to fail to pay up and has persistently come up with one excuse after the next why newspapers and radio stations have not been paid.
ONE WOULD THINK that in an election year, when an incumbent government needs to disseminate all the information it can to the general public, it would do all it can to not in simple English, Piss the watchdogs off!
SADLY, AGAIN, the action on the part of the Ministry of Finance to pay has led many to conclude that the government which has enjoyed high praise for freedom of the press may be using the stalling of advertising revenues to starve struggling media institutions.
IF THAT is the case, then perhaps the president’s attention is required and in a very strong way as we are doing today.
WE HOPE that our action, along with the Democrat will inspire other newspapers and radio stations to realize their power and use it to their advantage.
PERHAPS THIS was what Daniel Bashiel Warner, Liberia’s third president had in mind when he penned the national anthem when he wrote: “In union, strong success is sure, we cannot fail”. The government must pay up or shut up. The media needs finances to keep its head above water.