The Central Bank of Liberia says it has spent over $40 million of its reserves in recent months as it grapples with the devastating Ebola outbreak, the country’s deputy central bank governor Boima Kamara told Reuters on Friday.
“Just from June to September this year, we have spent between $40 million to $50 million to intervene in the economy. That level of intervention has to be done to avoid a liquidity crisis,” Kamara said in an interview on the sidelines of the fall meetings of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank in Washington.
The drawdown in reserves has been necessary to stabilize the exchange rate and avoid a potential inflation situation, he said.
Liberia has been hit hard by the Ebola outbreak, the worst on record. More than half of the 4,033 people who have died from the disease were in Liberia, where the healthcare system is still reeling from a devastating 1989-2003 civil war.
Because of the strains on its reserves, Liberia was seeking ways to partner with some international institutions, like the World Bank, Kamara said.
So far, there were positive signs.
“We anticipate some level of interventions from the World Bank,” he said.
Donors have promised hundreds of millions of dollars in aid amid fears of a global pandemic, but many in Liberia – including President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf – say that help has been too slow in coming to a nation of 4 million people.
“We are looking for liquidity support to the banks, we are looking for support for businesses, in terms of having access to finance, the likelihood of refinancing arrangements,” Kamara said.
Earlier this week, Finance Minister Amara Konneh said government revenues had dropped 20 percent, while Liberia has had to ramp up spending by some 35 percent, leaving a budget gap of around $106 million. (Reuters)