WE LISTENED WITH rapt attention to the interview you had recently on 50-50 Talk Show during which time you reeled out all the achievements of the Weah-led Government in which you serve as the Minister of Finance and Development Planning. Not only were you in your best element of praising the government for whatever you termed successes, but you presented a narrative that paints good prospect for the future despite the many challenges ahead. Of course as usual, there were mixed reactions that greeted your explanation, and based on who listened to you, everyone had decoded yours with their own understanding and interpretation.
THIS PAPER, IN keeping with its cherished tradition and philosophy of reporting and presenting events and developments as they occur in a more refined, balanced and analytically manner, saw your postulations from another angle and wish to differ because nothing was convincing in your presentation that the economy has been healthy and has a bright future. We don’t know the reliance of your data to justify your position on the state of the economy so we do not want to dignify the route you took to arrive at the conclusion you so believe in. However, we want to consider the widely accepted information that catalogued the general picture of economies around the world especially the stories about the dwindling fortune of developing countries like Liberia.
IN THE FIRST place, international development experts most of whom were drawn from among our traditional international development partners like IMF stated that it will be impossible for Liberia to experience positive growth rate before 2023 because our productive capacity was severely battered as the result of the untold impact of the Ebola crisis in 2014. They further stated a condition for growth that Liberia can only reverse the trend if concrete steps were taken to stimulate the economy. Since 2014, nothing much has been achieved to get us out of the economic quagmire we find ourselves. Sadly, statistics churned out from the IMF paint a bleak future. Liberia’s growth rate in 2020 was -3.01%; it was -2.28% in 2019 a 3.5% decline from 2018; while it was 1.22% in 2018, a decline of 1.25% from 2017.
THE IMF IN its reports from the inception of the COVID-19 pandemic, stated that the global economic downturn will have a disproportionate impact on developing and emerging economies like Liberia. It predicted that these countries will take the hardest hit, as they have less resources to protect against the major components of critical sectors such as health, education, agriculture, etc. No doubt like other developing countries, Liberia has seriously suffered from the impact of the pandemic. There has been drop in revenue which is dominantly relying on taxes paid by income earners, companies and other corporate entities, job losses, high cost of living, etc.
IT IS FROM the basis of the above analysis that the position of Minister Tweah on the economy cannot be taken seriously. Minister Tweah cannot speak about a healthy economy and hope for a good future when all the indices of growth and development are all in red. We therefore call on Tweah to take more concrete steps to find practical solutions to the plight of the Liberian people. The wellbeing of the economy cannot be debated on papers scripted with self-made graphs drawn from imagination, but can be seen from the physical look of the citizenry such as the food put on the tables of families, the availability of basic social services, jobs for the jobless, security for lives and properties, etc. It becomes a hard sell for the Minister to be vainly promoting the government when on the other hand the masses are feeling the brunt of the bad economic conditions in the land. It does not make sense to mention improvement in the economy when basic goods and services become scarce and their costs beyond the reach of the ordinary people.
TO BEGIN WITH, the government should channel its resources to meaningful venture that will impact the people other than personal projects that only benefit the elite. The stimulus package meant to alleviate the sufferings of the masses was executed in a shady manner thus making the whole exercise fruitless. This was the area that the government would have shown its seriousness and commitment to be on the side of the people.
GOVERNMENT NEEDS TO match its policy direction with corrective measures to mitigate the risk of further plunging the economy down the drain. There is a vexed issue of scarcity of Liberian bank notes in the commercial banks. The Minister alluded to the negative impact it has created, but fell short of providing practical solutions to solving the liquidity problem. It was not enough to say printing of money was not the solution to the problem. What we expected from him as a senior economic manager in the government was to tell us what is needed to solve this problem once and for all, the timeline and what is required to stop a recurrence. These are reasons why we differ with the Minister and urge him to provide practical solutions instead of painting a picture of a healthy economy and has a bright future with self-made graphs in the face of intensive suffering and abject poverty that have plagued the country and people.