President George Manneh Weah has outlined challenges and achievements made in the Liberian economy one year after his ruling Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC)-led government took office on January 22, 2018.
Delivering his 2nd Annual Message to the 54th National Legislature on Monday, January 28, at the Capitol, President Weah disclosed that 15,000 youths are expected to benefit from a Youth Opportunity Program (YOP) in 159 communities across all 15 counties of Liberia; with each youth to pocket US$150. He said, besides 100 Liberian-owned businesses are to benefit US$2,400 each under loan scheme initiated by the government.
President further disclosed the Ministry of Youth & Sports has unveiled a multipurpose laboratory at the Samuel Kanyon Doe Sports Stadium in Paynesville and agriculture training centers in Bong, Bomi and Montserrado Counties, respectively to empower young people.
“The broke economy we inherited is still in a struggling state, but the Central Bank of Liberia has introduced a sustainable remedy which includes stand and credit deposit facility”, he added.
He explained that the rubber and iron ore sectors have shown improvement with iron ore moving from US$57.8 to 105 million, while rubber jumped from US$67 to 68.9 million in terms of revenues.
The President assured that the government is committed to settling debts owed by previous administrations, disclosing that despite the economic challenges, the administration generated a huge revenue income with tax revenue increasing from US$ 59 million in 2017 to US$ 64.7 million in 2018.
At the same time he noted that expenditure has increased from US$ 433 in 2017 to US$ 502 million in 2018 with debt increasing from US$ 873.2 in 2017 to US$ 987 million in 2018, respectively.
“We are grateful to our development partners for funds provided to our government which totals US$ 399 million from January-September 2018, with US$ 272 million in grant, while US$ 127 million represents concession loan.”
He reiterated government’s commitment to road construction, naming completion of the Doe and Chugbor communities’ roads.
President Weah also named the 18km Coca-Cola to ELWA Junction road funded by the World Bank, and 47km road from Sanniquellie, Nimba County to Loquato near the Ivorian border funded by the European Union and the African Development Bank, adding that 65 percent of the community roads are near completion.
He said the Government of India has provided US$144 million for modernization of the Bali Island to be named in honor of peace icon Mohammed Ghandi.
He said the Liberia Electricity Corporation (LEC) is expected to provide electricity to more than 8,000 homes, while lamenting that the corporation losses 49 percent of its revenue intake to power theft.
President Weah cautioned Liberians to desist from power theft as it defrauds the government of millions of dollars and vowed to make the act an economic crime soon.
By Roosevelt G. Jabah –Editing by Jonathan Browne