Nation Address:What Will Weah Say About ‘Missing Billion’?

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    President George Weah is expected to deliver his 2nd State of the Nation Address today in the joint chamber of the legislature on Capitol Hill as the population appears eager to hear the outcome of local and international investigations he commissioned into the alleged disappearance of 15billion Liberian currency.

    In September 2018, the country was rocked with news reports that containers of printed Liberian dollar bank notes estimated at US$100million vanished on arrival in the country.

    Neely five months later, the facts about the scandal remain unknown. Although this paper understands from unofficial sources the printed L$15billion are accounted for save internal control weaknesses and noticeable irregularities.

    Article 58 of the country’s 1986 constitution calls on the President to on the fourth working Monday of January present his administration’s legislative programs and report on the economic conditions of the nation with respect to expenditure and income.

    Weah announced a collapsed economy when he delivered his first address to the legislature in January 2018 and pleaded with Liberians to make the sacrifice. Several monetary and fiscal policy measures were outlined to better the situation including a mega US$3billion road construction project. Still wanting are two major loans US$536.4million agreement with Eton Financing, and US$426million pre-financing loan deal between the government and Group EBOMAF, a West African construction outfit.

    Administration officials are holding talks with the regional ECOWAS Bank for Development and Investment to finance the first phase of the estimated 503 kilometers of road network being targeted for pavement.

    The World Bank Group (WBG) Board of Executive Directors while approving a six-year Country Partnership Framework (CPF) to support Liberia’s effort to achieve sustainable, resilient pro-poor economic growth and development said on November 27, 2017, the country’s 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.”

    On governance, the President acquisition of properties and failure to publish at least summery of his assets declared with the General Auditing Commission are takeaways in relation to gains made in his first year in office.

    – Festus Poquie