World Bank Program Leader Errol Graham said following the twin shocks on the Liberian economy – the low prices of commodities and the outbreak of Ebola in 2014, there are positive signs in some sectors of the economy, though there is still a long way to recovery.
Mr. Graham, who spoke to journalists at a special media briefing in Monrovia on Wednesday, May 9, outlined that there is some recovery in the price of iron ore, but noted that the kind of supply response has not been up to expectation and as such the impacts on revenue have not been felt.
He expressed that over the medium term, the price of rubber is expected to increase to 20 percent for Liberia, while there won’t be any sharp increases in the price of oil, something he described as a positive sign because Liberia is a major importer of these commodities.
The World Bank program leader, however, stressed that one main area of concern is the private sector, noting that an interest rate of 20 percent is very high for a country recovering from an economic meltdown.
“You don’t expect the private sector to invest when the interest rate is high and, as a result, you will always find the country suffering from recovery as well as development,” he said.
World Bank Liberia Country Manager Larisa Leshchenko said, “I want to tell you that there is an increasing attention of the World Bank Group to the fragile countries.
“Donors and development partners have placed a huge emphasis on the challenges of the country and the importance of paying more attention to these challenges, and helping to address them either through lending, grant support or through the technical system capacity building.
“In the next International Development Agency (IDA) cycle, there will be a major focus on growth, jobs, skills, basically boosting economic growth relevant for Liberia. Lots of emphasis will be placed on agriculture and energy.”
She noted that in addition to the so called national allocation of IDA resources, which will start on July 1 this year for a three-year cycle, there will be different windows where Liberia as a country could also tap and get more resources to address these challenges.
In particular, Leshchenko said that there will be a window in support of private sector development, which she believes has a good chance of getting more funding in Liberia to help private sector development, which is the main driver of growth in the country.