The Executive Governor and Chairman of the Board of Governors of the Central Bank of Liberia Mr. Milton A. Weeks says in order to revise the economy of Liberia, a more concerted effort with greater emphasis on value addition in domestic production, especially in the agriculture and manufacturing sector cannot be over emphasized.
Governor Weeks stressed a need for appropriate macroeconomic management tools to promote diversification for more inclusive growth and development here, adding that the Central Bank of Liberia, through enhanced policy coordination and harmonization, with the Ministry of Finance & Development Planning, has been working along with other stakeholders to institute key economic policies to recuperate the economy from the various shocks.
He gave the emphasis in an address delivered on Monday, March 20, 2017at the opening of a five-day National Workshop on Economic & Financial Analysis for Media Practitioners and Legislative Budget Officers in Monrovia, which is being held in collaboration with the West African Institute for Financial and Economic Management or WAIFEM.
He noted that over the last three years, the Liberian economy has been grossly affected by shocks such as the decline in primary commodities price (iron ore and rubber), depreciation in the Liberian Dollar, drawdown of the United Nations Mission in Liberia, the Ebola Pandemic, high importation, and infrastructure constraints, saying “As a result of these and the uncertainty due to the forthcoming presidential and general elections in 2017, the economy remains relatively challenged.”
In welcoming remarks, WAIFEM Director General, Professor Akpan H. Ekpo, who was represented by Professor Douglason G. Omotor also from the regional body, assured WAIFEM’s continuous commitment to build the capacity of journalists and various stakeholders in economic and financial management for effective communication to the public.
Professor Omotor disclosed that WAIFEM’s programs have been extended beyond West Africa to other parts of Africa, including Ethiopia, Gabon and Cameroon, among others. He said besides, the regional institution has also started a French Language program since 2016.
According to the Executive Governor Weeks, an important aspect of economic and financial analysis is the issue of government policies and plans which affect the economy in various ways,
adding that since policies and plans adopted by governments at various levels are responsible for shaping the economy it is necessary to subject them, through analysis, to scrutiny, but observed that a great challenge in economic and financial analysis especially in the sub-region is the dearth of knowledgeable professionals.
“The tendency is that all and sundry have assumed the ability and responsibility of analysing and commenting on government economic and financial policies. Most of the time some of these analysts undertake their analysis without understanding the basic economic theoretical underpinnings of the policies. Others go on to analyse without digging deep into the facts available to government functionaries, who informed the adoption of such policies and planning for such projects and programmes in the first place. This sometimes result either in under-reporting or over-reporting of government policies and programmes”, he said.
He said, another challenge is the need for timely, accessible and quality data dissemination for economic and financial analyses and policy implementation, stressing that more timely and reliable data is needed in several key areas, such as gross domestic product, inflation rates, unemployment rates, external sector and the financial sector. “In the external sector”, Governor Weeks explains, “timely and reliable data is for example, required for addressing “debt sustainability” (potential “currency crises”), by focusing on external positions, external debt and reserves; while in the case of financial sector soundness for example, focus should be on developing macro prudential indicators.”
Therefore, he emphasized that being an economic and financial analyst requires professional skills, so that the output would not only be accurate but also reliable, and warned that failure to appreciate the importance of the stakeholders often leads to poor collection, compilation and dissemination of economic and financial statistics, thereby rendering the corresponding economic and financial analysis spurious, saying “To this end, this course is timely and very important.”
He said in addition, the CBL has continued its efforts to support the economic growth and development of the economy, including working to develop the payment system, intervening in the real sector through credit easing, especially for the rubber and housing sector, and rolling over some microfinance facilities, while introducing various financial services vehicles such as agency banking and mobile money to expedite financial transaction, amongst others.
“Given all that have been said, it is very important to have individuals considered as Analysts with the expertise and knowledge to interpret as well as explain to our stakeholders and our citizenry, the policy initiatives aimed at ensuring we continue to have a stable and sound economy.
As the Executive Governor, and the Chairman of the Board of Governors of the Central bank of Liberia, I want to assure you that the Central Bank of Liberia will continue to pursue its ultimate goal of price stability with a view to ensuring macroeconomic stability characterized by low inflation and a stable exchange rate”, The CBL boss pledged.