Liberia Gets US$60m For Energy, Education

Liberia will access about US$360 million from the European Union under the Cotonou Agreement to finance Education, energy and state-building projects, Finance Minister Amara Konneh revealed Tuesday when he address the a news conference  on the state national economy.

He said under the energy segment of the program, the money will tentatively finance a reservoir for Mt Coffee, extending the period of peak energy production from 6 to 12 months thus allowing electricity production from cheap hydropower to continue all year to the benefit of businesses and households.

The education component, he explained will support technical and vocational education, training, which will provide youths with practical skills to get jobs or start their own businesses, while the State-building component will boost capacity in the security sector as UNMIL draws down. “This will help keep the country stable and secure,” he said noting that this investment was key for economic growth.

The Liberian economy continue to register high growth and significant improvement in several sectors thus indicating a solid fundamental for the economic transformation of the country following years of stagnation, Finance Minister Amara Konnah has declared.

Speaking on the state of the domestic economy Tuesday in Monrovia, Minister Konneh said the administration of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has instituted an expansionary fiscal policy to stipulate the economy via massive capital investment in infrastructure. The implementation of capital investment projects will no doubt lead to the creation of needed jobs to address the lingering issue of unemployment, he said.

Minister Konneh: “On the economy as a whole, the fundamentals of the economy still remain solid. We have grown at an annual average of 7 percent since 2003 reflecting the peace dividends following the end of a protracted civil war.

“Despite the rapid growth, the Agenda for Transformation (AfT) recognizes that the main drawback from this growth is the limited number of jobs created as the expansion of the economy has been driven mainly by the so-called enclave sectors- the extractive sector. These are the same drivers before the civil war with very narrow spillovers over the rest of the economy.

“Real economic growth remains on a solid footing. Our revised projections for 2013 imply a real GDP growth of 8.1 percent, compared to 7.5 percent in 2012. The higher-than-anticipated growth at the time of the first review is associated mainly to stronger mining activity. At the same time, non-resource real GDP growth (construction in particular), has accelerated in the first half of the year reflecting the pick-up in public investment compared to 2012, as well as robust private investment”.

The Minister also considered the merger of the Ministry of Planning and Economic Affairs and the Ministry of Finance coupled with the creation of the Liberia Revenue Authority as a milestone for the public sector management that will enhance efficiency.

“Another significant milestone is the passage of the legislation creating the MFDP and the LRA.   The passage of these laws will go a long way to bringthe much needed collaborations to the operations of governmentby eliminating current duplications and gaps in the functions of both the Ministries of Finance and the Ministry of Planning and Economic Affairs, thereby resulting in better allocation of human and financial resources and better service delivery,” he said lauding legislators for effecting the reform.

The Minister further Explained that the establishment of the new Ministry of Finance and Development Planning will streamline the national planning and finance functions and foster increased aid coordination within the government and between our development partners, as all of our aid coordination functions will now be undertaken in a centralized unit. Better aid management will increase donor confidence which should contribute to greater, more sustainable support.

Regarding the 2013/14 National Budget the Minister said “Obviously, the most important instrument passed by the National Legislature is The National Budget Law FY 2013/2014. The passage of the National Budget by the Senate on Thursday, September 12, following an extended period of stakeholder consultations, dialogue and debate demonstrates the progress we have made in the last few years in building our democratic institutions. We salute both houses of the Legislature for the quality of their engagement during these debates and the selflessness with which they drove the national agenda, making necessary concessions and compromises in the interest of our people.”

He said the  approximately US$582 million details  the policy priorities and direction of the Government investing in key infrastructure and social programs intended to expand the economy for growth, development and job creation.

“Given the size of our budget and the fiscal space with which we must navigate our development agenda, the passage comes at a very critical point in our drive to stimulate growth through increased consumer spending and execution of Public Investment Projects,”. He said