The Minister of Finance and Development Planning, Samuel D. Tweah Jr., has highlighted Liberia’s potential despite the challenges the country faces while playing host to his office, the Mission Director of USAID Jim Wright whose visit was about acquaintance and strengthening the partnership between his institution and the Government of Liberia.
According to a press release issued by the Department of Communications and External Affairs at the Ministry of Finance and Development, Minister Tweah commended USAID for being a strategic partner that continues to deliver impactful development projects under the administration of President George Manneh Weah.
He said USAID has supported several projects in areas of health, education, economic governance, digital economy and agriculture including support to tourism at Providence Island. While noting there were challenges, he also stated that there are opportunities for the government to “bend” the curve for transformation. He named the challenges as job creation for young people, agriculture, roads and electricity but stated that efforts are being made in addressing them.
The Finance Minister informed his visitor USAID about achievements made through economic reforms, which include macroeconomic stability during the last three years. He revealed that the government’s strong fiscal and monetary policies have led to inflation being down at 8.2 percent, adding that the Government no longer borrows from the Central Bank of Liberia, but instead lives within its means.
Tweah explained about the successful business climate meeting, something he said resulted in its roadmap being developed, following policy changes as well as the law and procedure aspect.
He also mentioned the creation of the Special Economic Zone(SEZ) which he said has been receiving support from USAID, the African Development Bank and the World Bank..
The tough talking Minister pointed out that the government is prioritizing agriculture “going forward”, while also making strides in fighting corruption through the anti-money laundering framework legislation, which will empower financial institutions like the Financial Intelligence Unit(FIU) , the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission(LACC ) and others.
Regarding the Internal Auditing Authority, he said a new framework is being created to enable the entity to be more vigilant, because they are responsible to advise the government in terms of spending public resources, while a new framework for audit is being looked at by the General Auditing Commission.
“We have the Liberia Anti-corruption Commission, and a new framework that will give power to the LACC to prosecute government related cases is underway, while a new assets declaration framework, including the passage of the whistleblower act as well, are expected soon.
He disclosed that the government is also making efforts in domestic revenue push, and expenditure push, adding that a public management tracking system in line with the Public Financial Management ACT will be created, so that the public can know exactly what government is doing with revenue collected and how it is expended.
For his part, new USAID Mission Director Jim Wright made a commitment to continue working in the same step of his predecessor.
“We are looking to increase transparency and build confidence, and trust for Liberia”, he said..
Director Wright noted that his institution is proud of working with the Ministry of Health, and with funding provided, it was a good sign for Liberia.
He indicated that the USAID is certain to achieve the objectives with programs between the Government of Liberia, and the institution, in line with looking at the portfolio review and target of what needs to be done in terms of programs USAID is supporting. He added that USAID is trying to set up a new five year program, with broad geographic coverage.
“We continue to focus on areas where funds are going to improve those sectors, to improve in education, we are working on a new methodology framework also” he said.
He revealed that USAID currently has a team that has been sent in the field to assess its financial program in the counties, and they will as well expand to other upcoming programs in the country, adding they are trying to improve the financial management area of Liberia.
He expressed the need for the government to attract actual investment, by continuing to provide information about opportunity.
“Under investment climate, you need to address various constraints in terms of access to finance and electricity, which are big problems for you”, he concluded.