By Robin Dopoe, Jr. and David Yates
Samuel Tweah, Jr., Minister of Finance and Development Planning, has said that upon the passage of 2019/2020 budget, the government will setup an agriculture guarantee fund of US$2 million, which is intended to back flexible lending terms to the sector.
Min. Tweah added that the money in question is intended to provide firms in the agriculture sector flexible terms, and a one to two year grace period and longer loan maturities.
“The Government is ready to put its money where its mouth is by using public resources to relax constraints in transforming the agriculture sector. We intend to increase this amount every year to stimulate lending in the agriculture sector.
“Also the government is in talk with major partners on support for de-risking, as a way to stimulate lending across agriculture value chains involving road infrastructure, transport, warehousing, storage, and inputs supply. In the next three years, we want to put Liberia on a sustainable path of food security and job creation, using agriculture as a conduit,” Mr. Tweah added.
Min. Tweah made these statements at the opening ceremony of the two days National Economic Dialogue held at the Ministerial Complex aim at finding cross-section solution to revival the Liberia ‘broken’ economy.
The Finance Minister added said Liberia will not experience any economic progress if it remains an undiversified by dependent heavy on the sale of iron ore and the raw export of gold and diamond and timber.
“That model has failed. Looking for strategies within this failed model will also fail. Taking big steps move the whole governance and business process around creating opportunities for value addition and for diversifying our economy is the focus of this government and must be the substance of conversations over the next three days.
“Let an entrepreneur somewhere here say if the Government can increase its agriculture guarantee to US$4 million, our Bank Group will provide flexible US$10 million financing for agriculture before the end of this year,” the Liberian finance minister said.
Min. Tweah further said the government is in discussion with investors to pour resources in the sector and is prepared to give these agriculture investors very generous incentives if they provide jobs for our young people and grow the food we eat here.
“Let an entrepreneur somewhere say if the government can increase its agriculture guarantee to US$4 million, our bank group will provide flexible of US$10 million financing for agriculture before the end of this year,” Min. Tweah added. “The government views the agriculture space as the clearest path to short -medium term job creation; therefore, it is working to de-risking bank lending to agriculture by establishing the agriculture guarantee fund once this fiscal year budget is pass.”
Meanwhile, Min.Tweah has the said that the government is undertaking serious fiscal policies adjustment, which place more focus on minimizing the country budget deficit, ensuring greater transparency in fiscal data and on stronger governance, and the effectiveness and efficiency of development spending.
“We are tacking difficult challenges and enjoin on all stakeholders on the need to support these changes. We are tackling the beast of bloated wage through a harmonization policy that pays all Government workers equitably. This is a difficult problem we have not been able to solve in the past. We must solve it now to avoid major shocks to the future. We remain committed to improving governance and to fighting corruption. We remain committed to strengthening the rule of law,” the minister said.
Min. Tweah added in the new 2019/2020 national budget, the government aims to increase its effort to collect taxes, backed by the strong political will show by the President to collect the fair share of revenue due to the Government.