Following drastic reduction in the production of rubber in the country, owing to the drop in the world rubber price, the Central Bank of Liberia (CBL) last Friday pumped the amount of US$5million, and LD$129,750,000 as stimulus package for into a program for the resuscitation of the rubber industry.
Speaking at Friday’s presentation ceremony, CBL Executive Governor, Dr. Mills Jones, said the initiative was government’s way of reaffirming its commitment to the revitalization of the sector.
He described the loan as a “stimulus package for struggling rubber farmers and the resuscitation of their production.”
According to him, the loan will enhance the industry’s ability to intervene in the foreign exchange market, and to support stability of the exchange rate and boost the country’s economy.
The Governor noted that the rubber sector is a major economic activity that should not be left alone without government’s intervention, considering that it is one of the larger employment sectors in the country.
Dr. Jones disclosed that industry was going through difficulties, owing to the short fall in the price of rubber on the global market, something, he said, needs serious intervention.
“The drastic reduction is very serious and needs urgent intervention to make the sector operational. If the sector remains unattended, it would lead a large number of people becoming jobless,” the CBL Executive Governor stated. “We need to support the sector, because it provides employment opportunities to a larger segment of the population of the country. If we don’t support the sector, large numbers of our citizens will be out of work,” Dr. Jones maintained.
The loan, according to him, will be managed by the Liberia Bank for Development and Investment (LBDI).
For his part, Mr. Ben Garnnet, president of the Rubber Planters Association (RPAL) thanked the government for the loan and suggested that they should work together in maintaining the rubber industry as Liberia’s traditional cash crop commodity.
He believed that government should stand by the farmers in stabilizing the situation. The current situation facing rubber farmers has led to their inability to pay millions of United States Dollars that they owed their employees, Mr. Garnett said.
“We are going to pay our employees and the increase production, because the loan is a milestone in the history of the industry,” the RPAL boss noted. He further said that loan would help to improve in the production of rubber, whose drastic reduction had affected members of the association as well as, other local planters in the country.
According to him, rubber farmers, like other sectors in the past, find it difficult to acquire loans. This has even made the situation complex, but the CBL intervention would help to improve his association’s relationship with local banking institutions. The drop in production in 2013 has plunged them into over million United States Dollars debt, he noted.
Earlier, Mr. John Davies, president of LBDI, said the loan was significant to revamp the economy and the rubber industry. He challenged them to make sure that they paid it back, and on time.
Mr. Davis, who is also president of the Liberian Bankers Association (LBA), disclosed that over 37 rubber’s farmers had applied to the bank for the loan, noting that “they have to meet all of the requirements stipulated in acquiring the loan,” Davis noted.