Finance Minister Amara Konneh has observed that the economic transformation pillar of the Agenda for Transformation (AfT) remains the lynchpin for the country’s drive toward transformation and inclusive growth. According to Minister Konneh, government’s interventions in economic transformation, a pillar in the AfT, have focused on formulating policies and programs that create an enabling environment for private sector participation and expansion in sectors such as agriculture and manufacturing.
Mr. Konneh made these assertions over the weekend at the Steering Committee Meeting of the Liberia Development Alliance (LDA) in Buchanan City, Grand Bassa Copunty. It was during the LDA’s Steering Committee Meeting that the government of Liberia presented a progress report on the first year performance of the AfT.
The ceremony was a self-assessment program by the government to grade its performance on projects it pledged to implement in the first year of the AfT. The AfT itself is the government’s five-year development strategy which follows the Lift Liberia Poverty Reduction Strategy (PRS) and is the first step in achieving the goals set out in Liberia’s long-term vision of socio-economic transformation and development.
About 100 heads of ministries, agencies and commissions along with development partners, private sector actors and civil society stakeholders attended the meeting which discussed the one year implementation progress report that was presented for the Committee’s review and acceptance.
The AfT is structured along five pillars (Peace, Security & Rule of Law, Economic Transformation, Governance & Public Institutions, Human Development and Cross-cutting Issues).
In his opening remarks, Minister Konneh noted that the government is providing an appropriate legal and regulatory framework appropriating tax and royalty revenues from concessions to finance electric power and transport infrastructure, education and training, and other inputs needed to bolster the private sector.
He indicated that the government has also taken a bold initiative to engage major stakeholders to identify and remove bottlenecks in the economy.
Mr. Konneh, who also chairs the LDA, explained that the government through the Liberia Business Registry (LBR),has driven the process of enterprise formalization by streamlining the business registration process and reducing the number of days taken to register a business.
“As a result of the automation of the business registration processes in Liberia,“ he declared “a total of 7,459 new businesses were registered in the period, 94% of them Liberian-owned.“
Over the period, the Ministry of Commerce and Industry (MoCI), in collaboration with the International Standards Organization (ISO), successfully tested theNational Satndard Laboratory‘s (NSL) instrument calibrations to ensure that the degree of accuracy of its precision instruments, gauges and scientific apparatus are consistent with international standards, Konneh declared.
According to him, Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) were drafted for four commodities on the market, names not given, and that the National Investment Commission (NIC) is finalizing the Private Sector Development Strategy (PSDS).
“A gap analysis was completed along with relevant stakeholders and a review of the entire value chain has been completed. The preparation of the report for the finalization of the strategy is currently ongoing.“
The LDA boss noted a local content policy to facilitate the creation of new linkages, deepen and expand existing programs between foreign companies and SMEs is also being developed and that research into local procurement, local content, business linkage has been conducted and a technical working group has also been established. Toward this end, he said the working group established to develop the local content policy identified four priority sectors for the local content policy: Agriculture, Mining, Oil & Gas, and Infrastructure.
The performance of the each of the five pillars of the AfT: peace, security and rule of law (PSRL), economic transformation (ET), human development (HD), governance and public institutions (GPI) and cross cutting issues (CCI) were graded . Under the PSRL, the total of 169 interventions were earmarked, but only 76 interventions were made in year one with 52 completed totalling 68%.
This sector had a total strategic objectives of 17 and is considerd the best performer. The ET sector recorded total interventions of 323 with 47 interventions in year one, 26 completed and scored 55%. This sector’s total strategic obsjectives are 32. The HD sector’s total strategic objectives are 17, total interventions 191 required, year one interventions 29 and total completed is 16, which amounts to 55%.
The GPI sector’s strategic objectives were 27; total interventions 204; total interventions in year one 58; with 21 completed and score 36%. In the CCI sector, a total of 85 strategic objectives were set, 394 total interventions identified, with 67 interventions made in year one and 32 completed at the rate of 48%; thus making the total completion rate of the AfT in year one to 53%.
Finance Minister Konneh noted that the 53% completion rate of the AfT clearly indicates the need for sector heads to coordinate their activities.
President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf thanked Minister Konneh for the presentation. The Liberian leader also sthanked pillar chairs for the gains being recorded as she acknowledged the support of development partners for their continuing supports to the country‘s ambitious development agenda encapsulated in the AfT.