Deputy Finance Minister for Budget and Planning Ms. Tanneh G. Brunson says rapid growth remains a key factor if government should succeed in its fight to improving conditions of poor citizens across the country.
“To significantly improve the absolute condition and relative position of the poor, growth needs to be rapid”, she stresses. Ms. Brunson spoke Monday, 23 April at the Paynesville Town Hall in Paynesville City outside Monrovia at the official opening of the National Development Sectoral Consultation that gears towards government pro-poor agenda.
The consultation was held under the auspices of the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning in partnership with the United Nations Development Program, UNDP.
The weeklong consultation brings together officials of government from line Ministries and Agencies, partners, private sector, among others, under the theme; Promoting Participatory Development Planning Process.
Giving an overview of the exercise, the Deputy Finance boss notes that government should begin by ensuring greater equity at the start of the growth process, citing land rights or by decreasing inequality during the growth process, such as making low skilled jobs more readily available and thereby pushing up wages among the poor.
According to her, the objective is to obtain input from participants to adequately identify pro-poor policies which are directly impacting on poverty, and do not have unfavorable consequences on growth and may even promote it.
“As we deliberate, and develop our path out of poverty, we have to focus not only on the growth of opportunities, but also on internal constraints, on aspirations and behaviors that limit poor people’s ability to participate. Let’s us also sustained process of poverty reduction by making sure that our strategy focuses on reducing inequality, through redistribution of assets or income.”
For his part, the Assistant Minister for Planning and Budget at the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning, Benedict Kolubah says the ministry hopes to achieve an inclusive and participatory national development plan that considers the plights of people in the diasporas, the sectors, counties, and ever here for the next five years.
“We are following the principles of development, because we have partners that are supporting us, including the UNDP, UNICEF; they are interested in the plan that we have so they can help to support this government”, he notes.
According to him, the pro-poor agenda considers five thematic areas, including Agriculture, Health, Infrastructure Development, Youth Development, and the Economy that would be prioritized in the next five years.
He says in line with mandate from President George Manneh Weah, the current effort is aimed at identifying interventions that would lift the people from one level to another, explaining that in the 2018, 2019 national budget US$ 78 million is allotted to prioritize these five thematic areas.
“We expected to have a national development plan by June this year, to have the launch, and move from one county to another to gather views to have the plan achieve its goals”, Kolubah concludes.
By Lewis S. Teh