‘Focus on the ‘Real Issues’’

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President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has challenged the chairman and members of the Liberia Development Alliance (LDA), development partners and other stakeholders to focus on what she termed the “real issues”, that will quickly transform the Liberian economy and lead to better lives for all Liberians.

Some of these “real issues” that need immediate attention, and possibly huge investments, the President Sirleaf pointed out, are the extractive industries—which the country still depends on—and the agricultural sector, which she said has immense potential for economic transformation.

The Liberian President made the comments when she chaired the (LDA) Steering Committee meeting held in the Port City, Buchanan, in Grand Bassa. The meeting was convened to present the first annual report to stakeholders since the LDA was established

“We need to focus on the real issues. Today we are dependent on the extractive industry for transformation. Agriculture has the best potential, but it has the least support from us, the private sectors, and even our donor partners,” she told the gathering.

“Land is an issue, though we have made progress in land reform; but we still have to consolidate those strides. Industrialization, value addition, moving into manufacturing and the agro-processing sector are essential elements of transformation.

“If you looked at what we have to support the manufacturing and trade sectors, they are very minimal. When you do not have the power, roads, and ports, you are not going to industrialize and that’s where we put the focus, but we have got to go beyond that to begin to really talk about transformation in those other areas where we have to put basic supports.

Infrastructure has been our major focus; there have been too many delays. We talk about the private sector; is the environment conducive for private sector investment when we take three years to complete negotiations? Is it conducive when you go to the courts and cases stay there for over two years?

These are the ‘real issues’ that need immediate attention. “Financial intermediation, the banking sector is under stress right now; why? How do we address it?

“So I really want you to please concentrate and point out to us, some of these areas to which we have to address ourselves and review as a problem.”

The Steering Committee meeting is expected to bring together about 100 heads of ministries, agencies and commissions as well as development partners, private sector and the civil society actors who will discuss the one year implementation progress report that will be presented for the Committee’s review and acceptance.

The release also disclosed that the Steering Committee meeting will advance recommendations to accelerate the AfT’s implementation within the second year.

The Agenda for Transformation (AfT) is the Government’s five-year development strategy which follows the Lift Liberia Poverty Reduction Strategy (PRS) and is the first step in achieving the goals set out in Liberia’s long-term vision of socio-economic transformation and development.

The Agenda for Transformation was launched along with the National Vision 2030, at a national conference in Gbanga, Bong County, on December 12, 2012.

The AfT sets out precise goals and objectives that Liberia will achieve in the next five years in order to take the necessary steps toward its long-term goals. Those goals include becoming a more prosperous and inclusive society. It is structured along five pillars (Peace, Security & Rule of Law, Economic Transformation, Governance & Public Institutions, Human Development, and Cross-cutting Issues).

The Government works along with development partners to make major investments in priority areas to deliver the results promised in the AfT.

The Liberia Development Alliance (LDA) is the high level coordination mechanism for the implementation of the Agenda for Transformation (AfT). The LDA Steering Committee, chaired by the President of the Republic of Liberia, is composed of key Cabinet Ministers, heads of development partner organizations, private sector actors, and civil society representatives.

The LDA Steering Committee meets regularly to review progress on the implementation of the AfT. The Minister of Finance serves as the national coordinator of the LDA, overseeing the Technical Secretariat which runs the day-to-day affairs of the LDA. The Secretariat works with ministries, and commissions in the various sectors, to coordinate the implementation of the AfT.

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