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Liberia’s Economic Down-turn: Where Are Our Economists

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Since 2012 – the inception of President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf’s second term, the Liberian economy has continued to function below the belt.

For the first term of her administration, the economy under Dr. Antoinette Sayeh as Minister of Finance, gradually boomed, especially following the Liberian civil crisis when the economy was ‘bad-off’.

Among the factors responsible for the current down-turn of the Liberian economy under Amara Konneh as Minister of Finance and Development Planning, are tax invasion and fall in prices of mineral exports and rubber on the international market.

Further exacerbating the situation is the Ebola outbreak from 2014 to the first quarter of 2015 at which time businesses and other economic activities became paralyzed – the aftermath of the Ebola crisis actually suffocated the economy, resulting to the much talk-about “budget shortfall.”

A research funded by the International Growth Center realized that businesses suffered and jobs disappeared as a result of the outbreak. A new IGC bulletin also disclosed that 12% of the businesses surveyed across Liberia at the peak of the Ebola crisis – September to November 2014 – closed down since a pre-Ebola survey that began in 2012 – an exercise that far exceeds Africa’s average business closure rate of 5% per annum.

“Efforts to rebuild the economy should focus on whether this damage is permanent, and, if so, whether a targeted intervention might be able to revive the economy,” said Eric Werker – one of the authors of the paper and Senior Advisor to IGC Liberia.

Another author of the study and IGC Lead Academic for Liberia, Jonas Hjort, emphasized the need for international organisations and corporations operating in Liberia to use Liberian suppliers and support local businesses whenever possible.

In the wake of the downward trend of our economy and the foregoing recommendations, one would wonder the whereabouts our economists; what are they doing to over-turn the melt-down.

Interestingly, most of our Liberian economists may have either studied in the United States, United Kingdom and other well-to-do economies, but have shown no practical signs of exhibiting what they had acquired.

Many had anticipated the prompt interventions of these economists since 2012 –even when Ebola was nowhere around. What’s now happening to our economy only exposes the limitations of most of our “loud-speaking” brothers and sisters who claim to be Harvard University-trained or ….. But again, the challenge is still theirs; there is still an opportunity for them to intervene to reverse this ugly situation.

It’s time now that our Liberian economists prove their worth and not only by taking to radio and television talk-shows and other programs just to create inflated impressions. They must manifest what they say into practical strategies to over-turn our current economic down-turn.


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