The World Bank Group has committed itself to adding a major boost to Liberia’s economic recovery plan as President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf continues to work with neighboring countries to strengthen regional response and at the same time promote greater regional integration. The World Bank visiting president, Jim Yong Kim made the commitment to the government yesterday when he paid a courtesy visit to President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf at her Foreign Ministry offices where he highlighted agriculture as a priority issue in the economic recovery package.
Dr. Yong said the World Bank is concerned that agricultural production has dropped as a result of the Ebola epidemic and observed that if Liberian farmers are not assisted to recover from the crisis, the spread of the virus might extend into food security crisis.
He identified other areas targeted for assistance as improving selected infrastructures that are critical for economic competitiveness, providing liquidity to local banks to support small and medium sized enterprises and local entrepreneurs including farmers as well as making sure that every community is protected from Ebola by ensuring that every Liberian has access to quality health care delivery.
The World Bank president explained to President Sirleaf about discussions held already with other stakeholders on the importance of finishing the job on Ebola with additional support tagged on the country’s economic recovery and also promised to assist her government’s plan to reach zero Ebola cases as soon as possible.
“We don’t need to wait until we get to zero to start working on the economic recovery. We will help farmers recover from the crisis; we need to help Liberians create jobs to help people recover from income losses as a result of the economic slowdown caused by the epidemic. We are working to bring private sector back,” he said.
He further identified the need to improve access to electricity and the construction of roads and bridges that connect farmers to markets because the epidemic has stalled some of the existing infrastructural projects.
Lastly, Dr. Yong said his organization will help the government manage the consequences of the epidemics on the public accounts adding, “We are working closely with the international Monetary Fund and the African Development Bank and we are preparing several branches of the budget support.”
Meanwhile, receiving her guest, President Sirleaf recognized how the World Bank has been a long standing partner to the Liberian Government since the 1960s noting that it has supported most of the country’s development efforts that had assisted the country leading to positive approaches.
President Sirleaf said the World Bank’s support has gone across the country’s Energy, Agriculture, Health, and Educational Sectors as well as in all other areas that progress has been made because of the World Bank and other partners’ assistance.
She added that recently in the fight against the Ebola virus, the World Bank was exceptional in it support adding, “Not only have you brought to us your personal knowledge in the Health sector and has enable the government to fight the Ebola virus.”
She acknowledged all the progress made through the World Bank’s urgent support including budgetary support that her government and the Liberians in general so much value and are grateful for.