‘Economy Fundamentally Strong’

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Though Liberians the world over continue to express concerns as to where their country’s economy is headed with a three-year successive budget short-fall and an uncontrollable and ever-increasing exchange rate, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has told the nation that the Liberian economy remains fundamentally strong.

Addressing the nation Wednesday, May 28, on the state of the country’s economy, a confident President Sirleaf expressed optimism in the recovery of the struggling Liberian economy.

The Liberian leader also promised robust pending actions to ensure that the economy be restored to its core standard in a robust growing structure as it has been in the last six years.

The Liberian economy has been experiencing robust growth of seven percent annually for the past six years. This has been the highest on the African continent during this period. 

The Liberian leader said through all of the difficulties, her government continues to address deficiencies as they are uncovered “and are confident that the Liberian economy remains fundamentally strong and poised to achieve the potentials we have identified.”

“The 2009 global financial meltdown has had its toll on Liberia. While others with stronger and more enduring infrastructures are slowly recovering, it will require some time for our country to fully recover,” President Sirleaf said.

The three-year successive budget-shortfalls the country is experiencing is as a result of a number of factors, she said, noting that government is still learning the details of managing a Medium Term Expenditure Framework Budget, which is important to securing and protecting important public sector investments such as roads and energy over a three-year period.

President Sirleaf also stated that Liberians must pay the though price for our growth and progress as is being experience under the current economic conditions.

“For example, where we have been previously supported by partners to carry out programs such as free medical services including the hiring of additional healthcare workers and provision of drugs and free education, we must now take full responsibility for these important services, which we intend to continue because they make a difference in the lives of our people.”

“Through it all, we have continued to address deficiencies as we uncover them, and are confident that the Liberian economy remains fundamentally strong and poised to achieve the potentials we have identified,” she said.

Madam Sirleaf indicated that to continue to achieve goals, her administration is undertaking bolder and tougher measures to continue to streamline our priorities, reduce wasteful spending, create additional savings and increase revenues so as to continue to invest in roads, ports, electricity, education, health, security, water and sewer – all these things that will multiply opportunities and benefits for all of our people.

With all of the controversies surrounding the 2014-2015-budget year, the Liberian President confidently said that the budget would be passed.

“Let there be no doubt, we will pass a budget. We will do this not because we will agree on everything the budget will contain but because the overall leadership of our country remains in total agreement on a shared responsibility to lift all Liberians. I know that we will continue to meet this duty.”

“Today my fellow Liberians, I renew to you this solemn pledge: our economy will be restored to its full potential.”

You will recall that one of our primary focuses, upon taking office in 2006, was to improve the image of our country – to Lift Liberia – so that we become a destination not just for international assistance and support but also for private capital investment and external trade. We are grateful for all the help and support we continue to receive from the international community, and for the over US$16 billion in Foreign Direct Investments, which we have attracted to our country.

Despite all of the many constraints and challenges, the Liberian leader said, the economy has performed well over the past six years, averaging annual growth rates of 7 percent.

“Our annual growth rate exceeds the average growth rates of the West African region. Estimates from the IMF indicate the growth rate in 2013 to be 8.7 percent. This performance was based on an activation of operations in the traditional sectors of iron ore and rubber. At the same time, efforts are underway to reactivate other traditional sectors such as cocoa, coffee and oil palm,” she said.

She indicated that with these serious efforts, the rate of growth projected for 2014 is at 5.8 percent which falls short of the growth rate projected in the Agenda for Transformation that calls for at least 8 percent annual growth rate. “If we are to stay on track in becoming a middle-income country by 2030, there are several reasons for this projected decline.”

The Liberia leader said Liberians should realize that the economy is not a machine that is subject to pulling of plugs or the pushing of buttons, rather group of people – people in private business, people in official entities, people in civil society, people in the media all of whom must play their roles without prejudice to the right to pursue their goals, but with the full realization that what each does will have consequences.

“We have seen that what each of us does can actually slow our bus or speed us along the way,” she said.

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