-Highlights Agriculture as key
Liberia’s economic growth, which barely was at between 6 to 7 percent, showed up for two or three years during the administration of former President Sirleaf but took immediate nosedive due to the devastating shock caused by Ebola and has never recovered since.
Faint gleams of hope that were hovering over the horizon soon got quenched to another shock, COVID-19, as well as other international trade factors. But all that now seems to be dissipating due to ingenious fiscal policies by President George Manneh Weah who is now predicting steady growth in the coming years.
In his state of the Nation address to the National Legislature recently, President Weah acknowledged that the year 2020 was challenging for the Liberian economy.
He said real GDP growth projection was further revised downward to negative three (-3.0%) percent for 2020, from the earlier projection of negative two point five (-2.5%) percent. This, he said, was reflected by a decline in economic activity, largely due to prolonged lockdowns at home, restrictions on international travels, disruptions in supply chains and international trade, and the second wave of the pandemic now seen in several countries, including Liberia’s major trading partners.
Although the impact of the pandemic on the mining and manufacturing sectors was limited, the service sector, especially the hospitality sub-sector, was severely hit due to the lack of international travelers.
Then the President broke the good news, stating that this year (2021), the economy is projected to grow by three point two (3.2%) percent, on account of expected growth in all major sectors of the economy, as well as favorable global developments.
He, however, noted that recovery of the economy will depend on the persistence, or otherwise, of COVID-19, even thought recent news about production of vaccines for the prevention and treatment of the pandemic is a positive development which will fast track global post-COVID recovery.
The President further said, during the course of the year, the policy of his government was significantly focused on protecting the purchasing power of our low-income population by aggressively fighting inflation, which reduced from about thirty (30%) percent at end December 2019 to about twelve (12%) percent at end December 2020.
“We continue to work aggressively on the goal of price stability so that our people will feel the benefits of macroeconomic reforms,” the President averred.
The President called on all Liberians to go back to the soil, as he put it, “in order to utilize agriculture as a vital tool for the revitalization of the economy”.
“We have the land, we have the labor, and we have the climate. So let us go back to the soil to grow what we eat, and eat what we grow, so that we can reduce our dependence on food imports, create jobs, and increase food security.”
The President promised that the Ministry of Agricultural will be the focal point to lead and coordinate this drive that should transform the agricultural landscape in Liberia.
“This is a task that is already underway, and which will continue to receive the fullest support of this Government,” the President said, assuring the people of Liberia that the activities in the agricultural sector will continue to receive his personal attention and the fullest support of Government, going forward.
He said Liberians will benefit from the full potential of agriculture as an engine of development, economic growth, and poverty reduction.