There is no doubt the Liberian Ship of State, for 12 months in 2019, cruised through rough waters that even diehards and the loudest supporters of the current regime went mute. Things got extremely grey particularly at the end of the year when liquidity abnormally contrived and all hopes in both the economy and the ruling elite nearly evaporated. But by the dawn of the New Year, national and international macroeconomic czars immediately began to point to sparkles of hope—saying rather unanimously that signs of recovery from recession were clear on the horizon. The man who keeps his fingers, eyes and ears on the figures and commentaries about the country’s economic transformation has just elatedly confirmed the resurge of prosperity not just in 2020, but also in the years ahead.
Like he had never said before, particularly during the year 2019, Finance and Development Planning Minister Samuel D. Tweah Jr, has assured Liberians quite boldly that recovery and prosperity is right on the way at the portals of 2020.
He also expressed optimism about increased prospects in the years ahead because, according to him, government is fully committed to achieving the mandate and vision of President George Manneh Weah.
The mandate, he said, calls for addressing the economic challenges facing Liberians.
He gave assurance at the singing of the Preparatory Project Advancement Agreement of US$3.7 million out of US$40 million Fisheries Agreement between the World Bank and the Government of Liberia, held on Tuesday, January 21, 2020.
Minister Tweah, who acknowledged challenges faced by Liberians in 2019, stated that the government was working with vigor to turn things around in 2020 and the years moving forward.
“Going forward, there will be challenges, but we are going to overcome them through the robust implementation of the mandate of the president,” Minister Tweah averred.
He said the country is currently making progress with regards to the fiscal and monetary sectors, as confidence is being restored at the Central Bank of Liberia.
The Minister acknowledged significant reforms done in the fiscal and monetary spheres which have begun to yield positive results.
He disclosed that the government is currently working with the World Bank to deliver on the pavement of the Ganta-Zwedru road corridor and that ‘yellow machines’ for the pavement will arrive during Dry Season of 2021.
He added that the second stretch from Tappita to Zwedru is set for 2022. He also mentioned that when completed, the Sanniquellie-Laquatuo, will serve as trade link with Cote d’Iviore and boost trade and commerce along that corridor.
Speaking further, The Liberian Finance Minister added that the government of Liberia has paid all arrears owed the Liberia Water and Sewer Corporation nearly all of which predates the current government. He disclosed further that government has begun processing the payment of about US$600,000 of US$1 million owed the Liberia Electricity Corporation and that additional payments to clear the entire debt to the Corporation will be made in the next few weeks.
Meanwhile, Minister Tweah has thanked the World Bank for its support to the government, and the meaningful projects they have supported under this administration.
He noted that Liberia’s partnership with the World Bank is expected to move towards transformative and impactful projects for jobs creation.
He added that the Bank is looking towards additional financing in the amount of US$75 million for scaling up agriculture. The Minister thanked the Director of the National Fishery Authority Emma Glassco for her passion and outstanding leadership aimed at transforming the fisheries sector.
For his part, World Bank Country Manager, Dr. Khwima Nthara, said the Bank believes making an impact in the sector will be transformative, and that supporting Liberia in the right and significant way was important. The Country Manager expressed the hope that Liberia can get the requisite qualification from the EU to enable the sector gain access to the EU market and thereby attract significant investments.
The Project, he said, will help monitoring capabilities by putting in place systems for industrial fishing, while increasing sea patrols to curtail illegal fishing.
He enjoined NaFAA and the West African Fishery Authority to integrate lessons.
Dr. Nthara also expressed commendations for the development vision of President Weah’s government which is embedded in the Pro-Poor Agenda for Prosperity and Development and assured the Bank’s continual support.
The US$40 million project titled “Sustainable Management of the Fisheries Project” aims to sustain the gains of the WARFP in Liberia and develop national capacities to improve the value-added and increase the economic contribution of the fisheries sector and the restoration of key infrastructure to enhance the sector’s contribution to the economy.
The new World Bank National Fisheries Project will focus on the rehabilitation and expansion of the Mesurado Fishing Pier to a state-of-the-art modern fishing port with onshore processing facilities for value addition.
The Project will also prioritize the establishment of landing jetties in five coastal counties with densely populated fishing communities such as Montserrado, Grand Bassa among others in an effort to reduce huge post-harvest loss and supply the domestic market with high quality of fish products which has a fish demand deficit of 33, 000 metric tons.