President George MannehWeah’s third State of the Nation Address has reported lower revenues intake of a total of US$445m in 2019, as global economic uncertainty and geopolitics tension adversely impacted the performance of the domestic economy here.
Reporting to the Legislature in line with constitutional dictate on Monday, 27 January, President Weah says during the year under review, total revenues received amounted to US$445m, which according to him is US$35m less than revenues collected from January to December 2018.
He reports that 2019 was marked by global economic uncertainty, adding that recovery of the global economic momentum remained slow largely due to trade and geopolitics tension as well as countries’ specific effects.
“These constraints adversely impacted the performance of our domestic economy. The domestic macroeconomic environment was difficult in 2019. It was characterized by low economic growth of less than one percent. Annual inflation of more than 20 percent, the depreciation of the Liberian Dollar by more than 20 percent,” President Weah laments.
However, he says in the last quarter of the year under review, inflationary pressure was contained.Notwithstanding, President Weah indicates that the Liberian dollar’s inflation undermines the income of the poor and the income of those earning in Liberian Dollars.He however states that inflation reduction therefore remains a significant goal of the government’s planning.
In order to ease macroeconomic challenges, he says the Liberian government engaged the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in December 2019 which resulted in the signing of the Memorandum of Economic and Financial Policy.
Consequently, he notes that the Executive Board of the IMF approved an external credit facility of US$213.6 million after which US$23m was disbursed under the facility to the Liberian Government through the Central Bank of Liberia.
President Weah explains that the goal of the IMF – supported program is to stabilize the macro economy through more effective fiscal and monetary policy and through improved governance.
Working in close collaboration with the Legislature, President Weah says government was able to pass a credible national budget at US$526m.
Meanwhile, President Weah reports that the budget brings public spending closet to the revenue received in the 2018/2019 national budget.
In executing the budget, he says government is taking steps to control spending so that it can significantly reduce deficit by the end of the fiscal year.
He applauds the Legislature for showing the courage, wisdom and determination for the first time in Liberia’s legislative history to trim the government’s wage bill.
“Reducing the public wage bill is a longstanding politically sensitive problem that prior administrations were the first to touch, but we had the courage to do so because we believe it will make everyone better off in the long run,” President Weah says amidst applause.
He appreciates the strong support and cooperation of the Legislature in passing the National Remuneration and Standardization Act which has significantly reformed the public wage.By Winston W. Parley