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IMF demands financial discipline

IMF in Liberia NDOn a two-day visit here, the Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund or IMF, Ms Christine Largade, has urged African Governments not to be “overburdened by debts” and to make sure that public spending and finance are deployed in the most growth-friendly faction to achieve prosperous economies.

“I would say that for economies to prosper and to be seen as prospering, having sound, reliable data is certainly a condition. Second, not be over-burdened by debts. And three, make sure that public spending – public finance – is deployed in the most growth-friendly faction,” Madam Largadeemphasized Thursday, 10 September during a joint press stake-out with President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf in Monrovia.

The IMF Chief considers such measures as necessary discipline in order for African Governments, including Liberia, to have a macro-economic environment that is re-assuring both for local community investors, who will look always at the country’s financial and economic environments to decide whether or not they are prepared to take risk there.

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Speaking in the Foyer of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, she cited the partnership between Liberia and the IMF, which she says is the ECF under which IMF lends money and Liberia commits to deliver on certain reforms and stable public financial management, which provides for a good discipline.

According to her, this is not about Ebola emergency and crisis, but on a non-going basis under which the IMF wants to help and support the country to make sure that the economy is on track to deliver on what has been government’s ambition to move into the middle income category by 2030.

“To do that, there has to be growths, there has to be good revenue generation and we can certainly provide in addition to financing the program, a lot of technical assistance which we have done and will continue to do. So we can help with financing in the form of those programs which is a give and take process,” she added.

Already, Madam Largadenoted that Liberia is not an unknown country to her because at her top level staff, she has two remarkable Liberian women, including ex-Finance Minister, Dr. Antoinette Sayeh, who heads the African Department.

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The IMF boss told President Sirleaf that she came to Liberia purposely to deliver three messages – first among them being to give a congratulatory message for what the country has achieved under President Sirleaf’s leadership when she engaged community leaders, encouraged doctors, and nurses to deal with “what could have been an absolutely horrifying epidemic.”

She also credited the President’s leadership and efforts deployed by all Liberian communities with the support of the international community at last to eradicate Ebola for good, which destroyed 4,000 lives in the country alone.

She then urged Liberia to continue on both fronts to make sure that the Ebola-freed status is for long and forever; and continue on the economic front as well because the environment is not easy, citing low commodity prices and lack of exports of extraordinary natural resources of Liberia.

Earlier, President Sirleaf said she was most pleased to welcome Ms. Largade on her first visit to Liberia and her delegation, including Dr. Antoinette Sayeh – now IMF’s Director of the Africa Department. President Sirleaf said Liberia has had swings in its relationship with the IMF with strong partnership in the early years of membership, sanctions and loss of active membership in the years after.

The President thanked Dr. Sayeh for her service as then Minister of Finance, as government worked to restore Liberia’s relationship and successfully tackled the large external debts that her administration inherited.

“We have since continued a very strong relationship and partnership with the IMF,” the President added, mentioning support received and extended to the Central Bank of Liberia that called for appropriate, rigorous performance and structural conditionality which in the past two years, Liberia has not fully met.

She said the effect of the Ebola virus which hit the country in 2013 intensified the impact on the economy already feeling the effect of sharply declined export on account of global commodity prices. “Virtually, all economic activities seized during that period. The partnership demonstrated by the IMF through you Madam Managing Director during those crises of ours is nothing short of extraordinary.”

President Sirleafsaid Madam Largade went beyond the call of duty, and speared tradition and convention as she responded with support that enabled Liberia’s facilities to keep moving its economy.

– By Winston W. Parley

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