Weah’s SONA Paints Glorious Days Ahead -Economic, Infrastructure Deficits Get Narrower

Unarguably, the second year of President Weah’s leadership was a foggy journey to be acknowledged by himself, his supporters and detractors. The country came almost to its knees due to clear economic paralysis and vicious political agitations. Even some supporters nearly gave up on the Weah leadership to the extent that others made calls to for him to shake or rebrand his administration or give it a quit himself. But true to the adage that every gloomy day is followed by a bright sunshine, signs of steady recovery have appeared on the national horizon, and no one particularly sees these recovery notices with clear exactitude than the pilot of the Ship of State. During his third Annual Message to the National Legislature Monday, January 27, 2020, the Liberian chief Executive sound exceedingly definitive and optimistic about a plethora of goodies in the New Year and beyond. The Analyst reports.

President George Manneh Weah on Monday, January 27, 2020, pursuant to his constitutional duty to brief the nation through the National Legislature on the state of the nation assured citizens and foreign partners that Liberia is situated on a steady trajectory of transformation and prosperity in 2020 and years to come.

Beyond Foggy Waters

The Liberian told a jampacked joint conference hall of the National Legislature and the larger nation that despite the fact that the year 2019 was marked by global economic uncertainty, his administration has put into place strong macroeconomic foundations for which he sees “no reason why the year 2020 cannot see positive growth.”

The vowed to work with determination, vigor, and focus, to stabilize the macroeconomy, reduce inflation and put Liberians to work in agriculture and other key sectors.

He acknowledged that during the year, recovery of global economic momentum remained slow, largely due to trade and geopolitical tensions, as well as country-specific effects. These constraints, he said, adversely impacted the performance of our domestic economy.

“The domestic macroeconomic environment was difficult in 2019. It was characterized by low economic growth of less than 1 percent, annual inflation of more than 20 percent and depreciation of the Liberian dollar by more than 20 percent,” the President said but noted that

in the last quarter of the year under review, inflationary pressure was contained, reflecting some modest appreciation of the Liberian dollar.

Going forward, the President assured the nation of an improved monetary condition in 2020 and beyond, aimed at promoting a stable macroeconomic environment, as his Government will remain committed to non-borrowing from the CBL and non-interference in its operations as an assurance of the operational independence of the Bank.

He said the Government would work with relevant partners, including the IMF, to strengthen the financial sector by strengthening the operations of commercial banks, and fast-tracking the digitization of our economy in order to make access to finance easy.

Great Signs for Infrastructure Revamp

President Weah used the occasion to navigate his practical development agenda, which concentrates on the pavement of 517 Km of primary roads, the pavement of community roads, the pavement of streets within County capitals, and the connection of all counties within our Republic by paved roads.

“It is also a goal of our Administration to ensure the rehabilitation and maintenance of laterite roads across Liberia, as well as the maintenance of4, 200 Km of urban and secondary roads.

Amongst significant successes recorded in the infrastructure sector of our Country over the past year the President recounted the Government of Liberia and the ECOWAS Bank for Investment & Development (EBID) signed a loan agreement of US$50 million to begin the construction of the first 96 km of my flagship road project, the Coastal Corridor Highway.

    He said the first segment of the Coastal Corridor Highway extends from Grand Kru County to Sinoe County and that the process of selecting a Contractor is ongoing and actual construction works are expected to begin this year.

Said the President: “I am also pleased to inform you that funding negotiations are ongoing for the remaining segments of the Coastal Corridor Highway. We are confident that these negotiations will be fruitful. With assistance from the African Development Bank, the European Union, and the European Investment Bank, we have commenced works for the pavement of the Sanniquellie to Loguatuo highway.  This project, which is 47 km long, will not only bring relief to our people, but will also enhance paved roads connectivity in the Mano River Union basin.”

The President also spoke of the pavement of the 50 km highway between Karloken in River Gee County and Harper in Maryland County as well as the 16 km corridor between Harper Junction and the Cavalla border with the Republic of Cote D’Ivoire has been completed.  These projects will be dedicated during my nation-wide tour which begins next month.

He reported that paving works on the Eighty kilometers (80 km) highway between Karloken and Fish Town in River Gee County are over 50% completed.

Still in the South East, we are pleased to report that Twenty kilometers (20 km) of the Highway between Fish Town and Kellipo Kanweaken in River Gee towards Grand Gedeh County, have been approved for construction, and pavement works will begin this year.

In the central northern region of our country, construction works on the Eighty-one kilometer (81 km) Gbarnga to Salayea road, are proceeding according to schedule, and asphalt pavement will begin this year.   This project is funded by our Arab partners including the Saudi Fund for Development, the Kuwaiti Fund for Arab Economic Development, the Arab Bank for Economic Development in Africa (BADEA), and the OPEC Fund for International Development (OFID).

“I am also pleased to inform you that our Government, working in close partnership with these same organizations and institutions, has secured funding to extend the pavement works from Salayea to Konia and from Konia to Voinjama,” President Weah intimated, adding further that

An Aide Memoire has been signed with the African Development Bank for the pavement of additional road corridors between Voinjama and Mendikorma in Lofa County, as well as between Killepo in River Gee and Zwedru in Grand Gedeh County and these projects are included in the next batch for implementation.

According to him, work on the road corridor between Ganta to Yekepa, which is Sixty-seven kilometers (67 km), is progressing steadily, and asphalt pavement works began during the year under review and that in Monrovia, construction works on the expanded 6 km Coca-Cola Factory to ELWA Junction road have begun, of which 2 km of asphalt pavement is already completed.

He reported also on the Roberts International Airport is the principal gateway to Liberia and presents the first impression of our Country. However, we note with dissatisfaction the current state of the road corridor leading from the Airport to the ELWA Junction. There have been many unfortunate incidents and accidents which need to claim our attention as national leaders.

The Liberian leader reported on countless urban community roads under construction and many more to commence this year in line with the vision to connect all communities and cities of Liberia.

Venturing into Oil Exploration

Also reporting to the Legislature, the President reveal plans of his administration in advance Liberia’s quest for oil and gas.

“Two years ago,” the President not, “I pledged to accelerate actions towards advancing the nation’s aspiration for oil and gas discovery. The intention was to ensure that the petroleum sector is managed in a way that promotes efficient institutional governance, integrates the principles of accountability and transparency, maximizes revenue from potential petroleum resources, and supports Liberian citizens’ participation.”

Then he added: “During the year under review, significant progress was made towards achieving this objective. As required by the New Petroleum Reform Law, 2014,  separation of the regulatory responsibility from the commercial operations was finalized through the signing of a Transfer Plan, thereby allowing the Liberia Petroleum Regulatory Authority (LPRA) and the National Oil Company of Liberia (NOCAL) to operate independently but collaboratively in realizing this national objective.”

“My Fellow Liberians, I am pleased to announce to you today, that the Government of Liberia, through the Liberia Petroleum Regulatory Authority (LPRA), will open up the entire Harper Basin during the next Licensing Round beginning in April,” President Weah declared.

“Nine offshore blocks will be put up, allowing competent and reputable international oil and gas companies to bid with the hope of recommencing exploration programs, following years of inactivity. Details of the Licensing Round will be made available in the coming weeks through a partnership between LPRA and NOCAL.”

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