In 2016, an estimated number of more than 2.2 million Liberians were unable to meet their basic food needs with 1.6 million persons placed below the food poverty line.
Today, that narrative is changing under the leadership of His Excellency, President George Weah and the implementation of the Pro-Poor Agenda for Prosperity and Development (PAPD) despite challenges, especially global economic experiences brought by the Covid-19 pandemic. To achieve this, the government in its march toward better standards for the country has made it a focal point to improve the economy.
The country’s economy rebounded to accommodate a real GDP growth projected at 3.6% in 2021, allowing per capita GDP to increase for the first time since 2016.
According to the World Bank, presently, Liberia’s economy is projected to expand by an average of 4.9% in 2022-23 with structural reforms expected to increase activity in targeted sectors like mining, agriculture, and construction.
At the centre of this economic transformation is the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning, ably led by Hon. Samuel D. Tweah Jr., Liberia’s Minister of Finance.
The active contribution of the Ministry in implementing the policies of the current administration has seen growth at commendable levels.
During the past year, the World Bank noted that Liberia’s fiscal position improved in the first five months of 2021 due to increased revenues and spending consolidation.
This is not in isolation from all efforts put forward to ensure better stability to the nation’s economy by the Ministry. Hon. Tweah Jr. has stated that the goal of the Ministry is to increase growth that is sustainable and inclusive for everyone in the country.
This means increasing the productivity of the agriculture sector and linking farmers to urban and regional markets through better roads and transportation infrastructure.
It also means increasing access to clean and affordable electricity, particularly in rural areas, and digitizing the economy, especially through digital finance.
To achieve its goals, the current administration has channelled its energy towards strengthening domestic revenue mobilization and public expenditure management to increase transparency and efficiency.
For instance, through the Ministry, the government has over the years deployed a number of systems improvements in financial reporting that are contributing significantly to an overall enhancement of the country’s financial management systems.
These activities have been executed in close consultation with development partners such as the World Bank for the purpose of checks and balances and to emphasize an overall transparency agenda for the country.
This has seen the implementation of programs such as the Public Financial Management Reforms for Institutional Strengthening Project (PFMRISP) by the World Bank.
Furthermore, through the Department of Fiscal Affairs and Office of the Comptroller General, the Ministry introduced a single treasury account (STA) that will serve as a platform for processes that include receipt of all GoL revenue and facilitate real-time reconciliation of revenue and expenditures.
This platform was created to enhance fiscal actors’ monitoring and evaluation of revenue collection and disbursement of State resources and improve transparency and accountability in Government.
Also, as a means of improving the documentation of financial transactions of vouchers and other documents that provides an audit trail for transactions, the Ministry has established a document management system to be rolled out and used across Government Ministries and Agencies. This instrument in implementation is expected to serve as automated storage of all documentation of transactions and aid in strengthening evidence during current and post reviews of transactions.
To its credit, the Ministry of Development and Planning has been wise with partnership and collaboration to achieve set objectives. The Ministry associates with the apex financial institutions in the world, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), World Bank, International Finance Corporation (IFC) and the International Development Association (IDA).
For example, early in the year, the World Bank approved a financing package for the Liberia Investment, Finance and Trade (LIFT) project, financed by the International Development Association.
The project is geared towards improving the investment climate, expanding sustainable access to finance, and increasing the efficiency of trade in Liberia.
Financed to the tune of $40 million ($20 million grant and $20 million credit), this is the first World Bank financing project in a generation to support Liberia’s private and financial sectors.
The project is intended to provide a line of credit for Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), as well as build their capacity to access markets over the next five (5) years and will directly support over 750 SMEs by providing a customized suite of services, including coaching, training, market linkages, investment facilitation and finance.
For Liberia, there are still a lot of p activities of the Ministry of Finance under the leadership of Hon. Samuel D. Tweah Jr. follows through in the quest to achieve President Weah’s vision of the Pro-poor Agenda for Prosperity and Development.
In particular, current measures in place support the strengthening of pillar two of the agenda which focuses on the country’s economy and jobs for the population. These are commendable steps that will help improve the country over time. Liberia is on the right trajectory.