Samuel D. Tweah, Jr., Minister of Finance and Development Planning (MFDP), says the government will begin implementing new measures to help stabilize the country’s economy and sustain the peace, a release has said.
Providing updates on the general economic and social developments to the United Nations Peace-building Commission, Minister Tweah said that the “cabinet has approved a battery of measures to stabilize the microeconomic side, and was working with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on a program to transform and restore confidence in the fiscal and monetary spaces.”
Minister Tweah, who addressed the United Nations Peacebuilding Commission Meeting on Liberia in New York via Video Teleconferencing (VTC) from Monrovia, said the measures will include the passage of a credible and realistic budget that reflects the government’s true revenue potential; a strong wage reform–beginning with salary harmonization; and enforcement of a more effective cash management.
He told the Peacebuilding Commission that the government has a very high wage bill–currently spending around US$330 million annually on salaries, leaving little resources to adequately invest in crucial sectors; hence, the need to ensure a salary harmonization exercise, a process that could not be achieved for the past nine years.
In addition to the new measures, Minister Tweah further said that the government will work towards widening the remittance stage to help stabilize the United States Dollars-Liberian Dollars exchange rate. Under the new measure, remittances sent to Liberia through MoneyGram, Western Union, and others, will be paid out in Liberian Dollars.
According to the release, Minister Tweah pointed out that while these measures would lead to short and long term returns, it would not outrightly revive the economy without increased investments, and mentioned that the government was working to create an enabling environment where investments could flow.
He said that bad roads and high cost of electricity remain key challenges in reducing the cost of doing business, and said that the government is working with stakeholders to ensure that Liberia imports by April 2020, cheaper electricity from the Ivory Coast at a rate of 14 or 15 cents per kilowatts hour.
On the implementation of the Pro-poor Agenda for Prosperity and Development (PAPD), Minister Tweah said President George Weah road agenda is on course.
He emphasized that community roads are being built across the country through the Infrastructure Trust Fund, while the government continues mobilization of financing for the construction of the coastal highway.
Minister Tweah also spoke of great gains in education, health, social protection and youth employment, but said a lot more was needed to address the remaining challenges.
On the political front, Minister Tweah said the government’s vision is to sustain peace through equity and economic development for all Liberians, and urged the Peacebuilding Commission to focus on issues that drive conflict and instability, and have the potential to drive away investors. He stressed that the recent protest is evidence that issues of facts, dialogue, governance, and accountability need to be given more attention in Liberia.
The president and the government and the people of Liberia thank the Chair of the Liberia Peacebuilding Commission, Ambassador Olof Skoog for convening this meeting.
Also addressing the meeting via Video Teleconferencing (VTC), the Minister of Foreign Affairs Gbehzongar Milton Findley, expressed immense gratitude to the United Nations and all our partners for their continued commitment and support to the sustenance of peace, democracy and development in Liberia.
Minister Findley said that the government is committed to the promotion of peace, security and the rule of law, as principal objectives of its foreign policy, evidenced by its handling of the June 7 protest in Liberia.
He assured the International Community that Liberia would remain actively engaged with the Peace-building Commission in its support to lasting peace and democracy in Liberia.
The Chair of the Liberia Configuration of the Peace-building Commission, Ambassador Olof Skoog, Permanent Representative of Sweden to the United Nations said the Commission is encouraged by President Weah’s strong commitment to cooperate with the international community to revive Liberia’s economy and sustain the peace.
Ambassador Skoog, who acknowledged the strong connection between a viable economy and sustenance of peace, underscored the importance of international community coming together to support economic revival process in Liberia, and ensure that Liberians feel the benefits of peace.
Skoog said the Peacebuilding Commission was committed to accompanying Liberia through its peacebuilding process, and underscored the need to consolidate the progress and ensure the reversibility of peace dividends, especially Liberia’s exemplary transition from peacekeeping to peacebuilding, which is being hailed internationally.
He stressed the importance of inclusiveness in upholding democratic principles, national dialogue, unity, and respect for the rule of law.
On the recent June 7 protest, Amb. Skoog and other members of the Commission, commended the Liberian government and all stakeholders for ensuring a peaceful process. They also welcomed President Weah’s call for a round table discussion on the way forward for the Liberian economy.
United States Ambassador to Liberia, Ms. Christine Elder, the Special Representative and Head of the African Union Liaison Office in Liberia, Ibrahim Mbaba Kamara, and the Special Representative and Head of the United Nations Office for West Africa, Dr. Mohammed Ibn Chambas, all praised the essential role played by President Weah and his Government, and pledged to continue to cooperate with the government in its development drive.
Representatives of Norway, Canada, and the European Union at the United Nations, also hailed the essential role played by President Weah and his Government in ensuring the peaceful conduct of the June 7 protest.
The Peacebuilding Commission Meeting on Liberia was proposed by Ambassador Dee-Maxwell Saah Kemayah, Sr., Permanent Representative of Liberia to the United Nations to take stock of economic, political and social developments in the country within the framework of the PADP, and consider the Liberian Government’s response to the June 7 protest.