The World Bank Group (WBG) Board of Executive Directors on Tuesday, November 27, approved a six-year Country Partnership Framework (CPF) to support Liberia’s effort to achieve sustainable, resilient pro-poor economic growth and development. The CPF responds to the country’s strategic priorities in its Pro-Poor Agenda for Prosperity and Development strategy and incorporates views from a wide range of stakeholders following consultations held across the country.
According to a World Bank release in Monrovia, Liberia has made significant achievements after the restoration of peace and stability 15 years ago. The medium-term growth prospects remain positive, although substantial downside risks remain. GDP growth is projected to recover at an annual average rate of 3.8% over the period 2018-2020. The recovery is expected to be largely driven by agriculture, manufacturing and services sectors, as the economy begins to reap the benefits of improved access to roads and cheaper sources of electricity. Inflation is projected to decline from 11.5% in 2018 to 9.5% by 2020. Additionally, in line with projected improvements in the economy, poverty is expected to fall from 50.5% in 2018 to 48.6% in 2020.
The CPF focuses on human development and intangible capital, while keeping the balance with investments in infrastructure to consolidate successes of the previous Country Partnership Strategy (CPS) and reinforce the impact of the WBG program aimed at building human capital and boosting private sector development. Specifically, the CPF will place emphasis on strengthening institutions and creating the enabling environment for inclusive and sustainable growth through transparency and accountability in the public sector, support for commercial agriculture, and the development of micro, small and medium enterprises. The CPF will support infrastructure investments to foster more equitable nationwide development to improve access to basic services.
“This CPF is designed to have a balanced approach to support the country to build human capital, to strengthen public institutions and governance, and to consolidate progress in filling the significant infrastructure gaps. We are encouraged to see a strong commitment of the government to the Human Capital agenda and advancements towards a digital economy in Liberia,” said Henry Kerali, World Bank Country Director for Ghana, Liberia and Sierra Leone.
In building human capital to seize new economic opportunities, the CPF will improve access to quality education, create income opportunities for youth and women, and improve maternal and child health.
“The CPF aims to support the most vulnerable in the society. We will invest, more and better, in health and education to give young Liberians and women a better chance to shape their own future,” said Larisa Leshchenko, World Bank Country Manager for Liberia.
The role of the private sector in financing development is critical. The CPF will therefore seek close collaboration between the International Development Association (IDA), International Finance Corporation (IFC), and the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA), and harness the role of the private sector in financing development in Liberia.
“The private sector is critical in accelerating economic growth and development. The IFC will work along with the Liberian Government to develop good policies and vibrant institutions to attract investments for the resuscitation of the economy,” said Adamou Labara, IFC Country Manager for Liberia.
The CPF emphasizes the importance of shifting the focus of the WBG program from being infrastructure intensive towards a more balanced approach with greater attention on education, agriculture, economic empowerment of women and youth, and maternal and child health.
The CPF builds on the lessons from the CPS for FY13-FY17, although well designed and relevant, its implementation was disrupted by the Ebola crisis, thereby adversely affecting both the delivery of the lending program and portfolio performance. Despite the changes made to the WBG program to respond to the Ebola epidemic, most of the original outcome targeted by the CPS were achieved.