Ebola Puts Liberia’s Economy in ‘New Territory’

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A forceful action is necessary to restore Liberia’s economy to normalcy because Ebola has put our financial system in new territory, says the Executive Governor of the Central Bank of Liberia, Dr. J. Mills Jones.

Meanwhile poverty still remains high in the country and therefore Liberians must lead the effort to restore the national economy, Dr Jones maintains.

 “That is why the Board of the CBL decided to take steps to help the rural economy and put new life into the microfinance sector of the country,” he added.

Dr. Jones was speaking last Saturday, when he was honored by the National Apex of Savings and Loan Association as the ‘Champion of women economic empowerment’ at the official opening of its headquarters on the Old Road in Monrovia.

Empowering Women and the Informal Sector

  “Women hold the family together, women manage the household. For many of us, if it were not for our mothers, we would not have achieved what we were able to accomplish here today, declared the Governor.

  “So, when we empower Liberian women, we are empowering the nation, we are empowering our children; we are empowering our families as well as insuring our future by putting our country on the right path.”

 Many times, a question has been asked about the CBL’s interest in empowering women and the Village Savings Loan Associations (VSLAs). “My response to them is that the informal sector of the economy is very important because it provides livelihood opportunity for a majority of the Liberian population.”

  In this connection, “We must understand that government cannot solve all the problems; the government cannot provide all the jobs; but what I believe is that government must do all it can to create the opportunity for Liberians to improve on their own lives,” Governor Jones declared.

Microfinance, Sensible strategy for fighting poverty

 Most Liberians operate in the informal sector of the economy’ so when the CBL improves the informal economy, “we improve opportunities for most Liberians, Dr. Jones maintains.

“We believe that little by little, we will bring those in the informal economy into the mainstream of the Liberian economy. This is a sensible strategy for fighting poverty.

  “We are told that the World Bank and the Liberia Institute of Statistic and Geo-Information Services (LISGIS) and other organizations conducted two rounds of mobile phone surveys in October and November, 2014.  They concluded that the Ebola disease substantially impacted the Liberian economy and spoiled all sectors and that those who engage in several activities of our VSLA have also been hit by the virus.”

    The CBL does not need a survey to know that, because “we have been working with the women and many others in our microfinance sector.”

  Dr. Jones said, “We know that the microfinance institutions were operating below capacity of the Ebola crisis; we know that many of our farmers were hit by the virus and marketers cannot go to the market.

  “We know that our cross-border traders cannot travel; we need to provide subsidy for them.”

  The Central Bank boss acknowledged that he is inspired and moved by many stories from the women and he is convinced that Liberian women are ready to lift themselves out of poverty.

   Earlier, Senator Jewel Howard-Taylor, who was also honored by the National Apex of Saving and Loan Association and the Village Savings Loan Associations, commended the CBL Governor and Board for empowering Liberian women.

  The women lauded Governor Jones for his immense contribution to the Liberian economy and appealed to him to extend the loan program to other parts of the country where people are not yet feeling his impact.

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