Early this week, an international conference aimed at tackling the sharp increases in unemployment and underemployment since the 2009 global financial crisis took place in the Norwegian Capital, Oslo. The conference, held under the auspices (sponsorship) of the International Monetary Fund or IMF, International Labor Organization or ILO, leaders from the governments, labor Organizations and Business organizations, was hosted by Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg of Norway.
Highlighting the plight of Liberia, President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf underscored the high unemployment being experienced by the nation, emphasizing that as her government promoted growth and confronted high unemployment, the increase in unemployment in advanced economies became severe, hitting merging market economies.
President Sirleaf admitted to participants that 48-percent of the Liberian population resided in Monrovia, noting that they moved to the capital to seek refuge during our civil conflicts, which ended in 2003. Of that number, the President said, 55-percent represented an unskilled youth population under the age of 25.
The Liberian Leader noted to the participants at the conference, the main challenge, as how to pursue the growth objective based on attracting private capital and investment, given the country’s resource limitations “and the time it will take to enable us to transform the efforts in reopening our mining, agriculture and forestry sectors, to get to a place where they can absorb these young people, and at the same time, provide training programs that would be required to equip them with skills to be employed.”
The President then maintained that Government must find the right balance by formulating the right approaches and policies, which if not pursued properly, could destabilize the situation, warning that the social cohesion which we all seek could easily be interrupted into another conflict.
We see such representation of our country in such a manner by Madam President as a true manifestation of the concept of national renewal and growth, even though others may consider it her national responsibility.
We also welcome her remarks at the Oslo Conference as a true representation of the unfortunate situation with unemployment in Liberia, especially in the wake of the absence of major economic activities in most of the populated regions of our country.
This is why we are even beginning to develop hope in the statement by the Managing Director of the IMF, admonishing the international community to respond to the very real impact the crisis has had on working people.
We are further spirited by the urgent need for high levels of employment creation to be a key macroeconomic objective alongside low inflation and sustainable budgets, as emphasized by the Director General of the ILO.