President George Weah is expected to unveil his plan for 2020 today, as he delivers his third state of the nation’s address or Annual Message before a jam-packed joint assembly of the 54th Legislature today.
It is not yet certain what the President’s plan for the nation would be this year, but one thing that is sure is that the Weah government has submitted itself to the International Monetary Fund program that intends to rescue the country’s ailing economy.
Also the United States through its agency for international development USAID has reached an agreement with Kroll, a global leader in risk mitigation, investigations, compliance, cyber resilience, security, and incident response solutions, and is the author of the February 2019 analytic report on Liberia’s previous procurement of new banknotes.
The agreement enables Kroll to provide technical assistance to the Central Bank of Liberia. This follows the government dropping a legal battle against Crane Currency of Sweden that printed new Liberian Bank notes, totaling 15.5 billion, which reportedly went missing.
Contracted by the United States Agency for International Development thru the Embassy of the United States near Monrovia to probe the “missing 16 billion” Kroll uncovered that the CBL under former executive governor Milton Weeks, printed LRD5 billion excess of the LRD10 billion approved by the Liberian Legislature.
The Weah administration subsequently indicted several officials of the CBL on multiple crimes, including ex-governors Weeks and Charles Sirleaf, among others.
However, the government announced at the close of 2019 plan to print additional 4 billion Liberian banknotes ahead of official request to the Liberian Legislature to print 35 billion new currency.
In his second Annual Message delivered in January 2019 before Legislators, President Weah outlined the manifesto of his three-party Coalition for Democratic Change namely: Power to the People, Economy and Jobs, Sustaining the Peace, Governance and Transparency
These four pillars, which were the core embodiment of my last Annual Message and Legislative Agenda, are now developed into our National Plan, called the Pro-Poor Agenda for Development and Prosperity (PAPD) and was officially launched on 29th October
According to the President, the overall objective of the PAPD, and its ultimate goal, is to lift Liberians from poverty to prosperity.
“As a first step towards achieving this goal, it is our intention, and our determination, to reduce poverty by 23% percent by the end of 2023, by providing greater income security for an additional one million Liberians who now live below the poverty line”, he had promised.
But most Liberians seem doubtful whether the government is capable to deliver on its promises, given the dismal performance of the economy in the last two years of the Weah administration characterized by hyperinflation, high exchange rate and shortage of cash in commercial banks.
In spite of the grim picture, President Weah noted that growth in real gross domestic product (GDP) was projected to rise to 3 percent at the end of 2018, but by 2019, the projection has fallen to 0.0 percent.
“By 2023, we expect the economy to grow by a further 4.7 percent, on account of further expansion in commercial gold production, growth in the agricultural and forestry sectors, formation of Special Economic Zones, and other economic reforms envisage under the Pro-Poor Agenda for Prosperity and Development”, he assured Liberians.
But the economy has sunk even deeper in the past two years of the administration and the government seems to find itself in a very tight corner, unable to meet its monthly wage bill.
Amid the current challenges, the President has even begun to give more promises as he embarks on his third term. He told the joint assembly of the 54th National Legislature recently during opening of its 3rd Session that 2020 would be a year of practicality and progress.
President Weah: “2020 is a year when we will consolidate our gains and launch Liberia upwards and onwards on a solid platform of policies and practical programs that will begin to turn our economy around.”
As Mr. Weah unveils government agenda for the next 12 months, Liberians would be increasingly gauging their hope on unfolding developments from the past two years to know where the administration is leading the State.