The Governance Commission (GC), the institution responsible to formulate policy recommendations and implementation strategies to ensure that government functions in ways that are accountable and transparent, is to shortly commence a policy dialogue that will highlight the status of the Liberian economy.
Under the theme, “State of the Liberian economy as of January 2018,” the dialogue is aimed at laying an evidence-based situation analysis of the current economic and financial realities of the Liberian economy for the benefit of key stakeholders, particularly with the two political parties to contest the runoff election still lingering in a predicament.
According to the GC, this will enable the parties to explore possible policy options aimed at addressing the short-term and long-term economic challenges.
The Liberian economy is heavily reliant on the extractive industry and agriculture from where raw materials are accumulated and subsequently exported for foreign exchange.
Some raw materials exported include minerals such as iron ore, diamond, and gold, while rubber is exported in huge quantities from the agriculture sector.
Unfortunately, Liberia does not have the capacity to produce its staple food – rice, despite its fertile soil and favorable equatorial climate that enhance agriculture. Rice is imported from India, Thailand, and China.
The GC’s statement says that the policy dialogue on Friday, December 15, will feature detailed presentations from an independent expert, the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning (MFDP), the Liberia Revenue Authority (LRA), the Central Bank of Liberia (CBL), and the Liberia Bankers Association (LBA).
The concerned individual and institutions will be giving their opinions as per their occupational areas of control. While the independent expert may be highlighting economic situations from a global perspective, the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning is nonetheless expected to provide information on the national budget, highlighting sources of income and expenditures.
The Liberia Revenue Authority will provide some information about the collection of taxes and challenges encountered in the collection. The Central Bank, like the MFDP, may also throw light on the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), the fate of the Liberian to the US dollar amid a skyrocketing exchange rate, and the status of the circulation of Liberian banknotes. The CBL is also expected to inform the forum about banking institutions operating in the country and how their operations are impacting customers.
The Liberian Bankers Association is a conglomeration of commercial banking institutions in Liberia. It is expected to provide information about its operations and the relation it has with the CBL in terms of regulation and the control of the flow of monies circulating in the country.
The Liberian economy encountered a shock in 2014 when the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) struck the country. This health disaster colluded with the drop in prices of iron ore and rubber on the world market resulting in an unbearable inflation.
Since then Liberia has been slowly recovering from the inflation as prices of these basic exporting commodities are still low. According to Markets Insider, the world market price of iron ore as of December 13, 2017, is US$69.34. It is not clear what price Firestone, the company with a monopoly in the rubber business, pays to farmers.
The American rubber company had planned earlier to layoff hundreds of workers on an excuse that the price of the commodity has dropped on the world market.
Meanwhile, the two contesting political parties in the pending runoff are invited to the dialogue to get ideas about the fate of the economy since one of them may triumph to take over the country next year after the Ellen Johnson Sirleaf Administration expires.
The Governance Commission was given birth following the Accra Peace Conference in 2003. It was formerly referred to as Governance Reform Commission (GRC) and is meant to create the atmosphere for transparency, accountability, and inclusiveness.