IMF: Road Expansion will Enhance President Weah’s Pro-Poor Agenda

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The international Monetary Fund has backed President’s George Weah’s flagship ‘pro-poor’ economic development policy with its assessment team concluding at the end of its 13-day mission in the country that the President’s capital project targeting road construction will drive growth and development.
Team leader Mika Saito said in a statement Tuesday in Monrovia the medium-term outlook appears favorable and that the country’s economy is poised for recovery provided good policies are implemented—including measures to improve the business climate and support private sector development.
“Over the next few years, the development plan of the new government, with large-scale road construction in its center, will act to expand and connect markets and spur economic development,” she said.
“The peaceful political transition will offer support to the recovery of the domestic economy (agriculture and service sectors) through improved consumer and investor confidence. Moreover, key commodity sectors are expected to be more active as global commodity price recovery.
Ms. Saito: “Better power supply is another positive development factor for both existing and new businesses, though the full effect of the Mount Coffee hydro plant will need to await resolution of the transmission bottlenecks. Over the next few years, the development plan of the new government, with large-scale road construction in its center, will act to expand and connect markets and spur economic development.
“The team supports the Administration’s adoption of a strongly pro-poor agenda. The needs of the poorest segments of the population are clearly large, and it is commendable that the Authorities have made this their policy priority. Within this ambition, it would be particularly important to ensure that the increase in expenditure goes hand in hand with measures to ensure macroeconomic and debt stability, as the impact of instability would fall disproportionately on the most vulnerable groups and undercut the goal of poverty reduction.
Delivering his first state of the nation address President George Weah pledged to end the suffering of the country’s poor amidst hash economic difficulties via public spending on infrastructure projects such as roads and coastal highway that would cost his government US$3billion.

Weah inherited an economy, which according to the Central Bank of Liberia is experienced 11% inflation as at 21 December 2017, while the Liberian dollar has depreciated by 24% against the United States dollars.

In its statement of 21 December, the Central Bank of Liberia estimated the economy would record a real GDP growth of 2.5 percent, up from a contraction of 1.6 percent reported in 2016.

The President said he would introduce programs that will empower Liberian businesses and while he would encourage Foreign Direct Investment, the marginalization of local entrepreneurs and companies will not be permitted.
“Liberia is open for business. We want to be known as a business-friendly government,” he said.
Also in its end of mission statement, the IMF team warned “Maintaining macroeconomic stability will also hinge on effective implementation of monetary policy, a precondition for which would be strengthening of the CBL’s balance sheet. To this end, Government should explore ways and means of ensuring the CBL has the financial wherewithal to effectively carry out its policy mandate.
The IMF team met with H.E. President George M. Weah, Speaker of the House of Representatives Dr. Bhofal Chambers, President Pro Tempore of the Senate Albert Chie, Minister of Finance and Development Planning Samuel Tweah, Governor of the Central Bank Milton Weeks, Minister of Commerce and Industry Wilson K. Tarpeh, Minister of Public Works Mobutu Nyenpan Sr., Minister of Mines and Energy Gesler E. Murray, and other senior government officials, private sector representatives, and development partners.
-Festus Poquie