A Liberian economist and professor at the University of Liberia, Mr. Lester Tenny, has described Liberia’s Economy as being ‘gang raped,’ adding that the country’s national budget is being controlled by only a few persons.
He made the statement recently, following a one-day national budget forum organized by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Institute for Research and Democratic Development (IREDD) and the International Research Exchange (IREX), at a resort in Monrovia.
As one of the panelists at the forum, Mr. Tenny discussed the topic, ‘Demystifying the Allocation: Who Pays for What? Our Taxes or Hand-out from International Aid.’
According to him, one of the key culprits to Liberia’s economic nightmare is the practice of witchcraft economics, which has its origin in supply side economics: a school of macro-economist who argue that economic growth can be most actively created by reducing barriers for people to produce goods and services as well as invest in capital.
Mr. Tenny added that the Liberian economy is also an enclave economy, suggesting that it is to a large extent closed in nature but not in context, meaning that it is reliant on subsistence agriculture and the exportation of raw materials, mainly iron ore, rubber, timber (in minimum quantities), gold and to some extent, diamonds. He suggested that the volume of foreign direct investment over the focused period (2005-2015) is numerically greater than those of previous times.
“With the primary exports of raw materials, one can see that the economy of Liberia is at the mercy of international price fluctuations and the forces of demand for these raw materials by our trading partners and the volume of our supply,” he said.
Prior to 1989 and after 2005, he said, “little can be said of the performance of the economy given the systematic and institutionalized natural resource looting. There has been a lack of unaccountability.
“The holding of presidential elections in 2005, it was presumed, would have ushered Liberians back into the comity of civilized nations, especially when the ‘goddaughter’ of the international community and prestigious Harvard trained macroeconomist, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, was elected.”
He asserted that corruption was declared, ‘public enemy number one,’ and the respect for the rule of law and accountability was paramount on the newly elected president’s menu, but these promises ended up being mere words.
“For a country like Liberia, copying the model of the supply side was in effect one of the bases for the unfortunate economic travesty we are currently facing,” said Tenny.
“The reasons are numerous: the country had just come out of the devastating civil conflict, which left most if not all of the infrastructure in ruins.
“The illusion that Liberia’s economy has experienced growth over the years is highly controversial and debatable. This is a testament to the fact that after boasting of over 480 million dollars in the health sector by both donors and domestic sources over the 9-year-period, a weak virus, Ebola could expose the ineptitude of this system, questioning the available data concerning economic growth,” he said.
“Liberia’s greatest challenge is for this government to recognize these abnormalities and make appropriate interventions because Liberians are suffering,” Tenny, said.