The outgoing Finance and Development Planning Minister Amara M. Konneh, has led a high-powered delegation to attend 2016 Spring Meetings of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in Washington DC, USA.
While in the US, Minister Konneh held talks with senior officials of the International Monetary Fund, World Bank Group, the United States Peace Corps, US Departments of State and Treasury, African Development Bank, International Finance Corporation, among others.
According to a dispatch, Minister Konneh commended Liberia’s development and traditional partners for the level of support Liberia enjoys and emphasized the need for further financial and technical assistance.
He lamented the critical need for swift intervention amid the twin shocks the Liberian economy experienced from the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) and the decline in the global commodities prices, particularly iron ore and rubber; the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) drawdown in June 2016; as well as the upcoming general and presidential elections; all of which, he emphasized, pose further uncertainties that may have economic, political, social and security risks.
Minister Konneh’s pitch for increased support coincides with the release of the International Monetary Fund’s World Economic Outlook, which predicts an extended period of slow global growth of only 3.2% in 2016 and 3.5% in 2017. These figures represent a second downgrade of the Fund’s forecast just this year. The IMF’s Primary Commodity Price Index has declined 19% since August 2015.
To help ameliorate the impact of the dire economic situation in Liberia, Minister Konneh articulated committed measures by the Liberian government, which is intended to generate additional revenue to account for said deficit.
“These measures include: Fuel excise charge (storage charge), surcharge on outbound international calls, Increase Goods and Services Tax (GST) rate – all of which is expected generate US$45.9 million in new revenues. Additional cuts to the recurrent expenditure ceiling especially goods and services as well as subsidizes and transfers and grants to some non-productive entities,” he disclosed.
He further stated that there are growing needs for increased expenditure, especially in the aftermath of the Ebola crisis, as a countercyclical measure and the need to ensure credible elections. He made particular reference to government’s commitment to continuous spending in human development areas such as health, education and agriculture (value chain).
In response, Liberia’s international partners assured the Liberian government through Minister Konneh of their unrelenting support to the Agenda for Transformation (AfT) and the Economic Stabilization and Recovery Plan (ESRP), with specific emphasis on budget support, the UNMIL drawdown, as well as the 2017 presidential elections.
Officials traveling with Minister Konneh include Dr. Bernice Dahn, Minister of Health; Charles Sirleaf, Acting Governor, Central Bank of Liberia; Dr. Mounir Siaplay, Deputy Minister for Economic Management, MFDP; Bernard Jappah, Public Financial Management Reforms Coordinator, MFDP; and John Davies, President of LBDI, among others.