As news of a significant decline in the number of Ebola cases in Liberia, the scar of the damage inflicted by this deadly outbreak on the Liberian economy and key sectors of growth still remains indelible. As such, the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning says the, the Government of Liberia (GOL) is preparing for the aftermath of the health crisis by targeted critical areas of interest for investment to resuscitate the shattered economy as the country prepares for post-Ebola recovery era.
Cognizant of an already volatile economy, the MFDP stresses that all is being done to ensure microeconomic stability, the provision of basic social services, and key infrastructure development projects including power, ports and roads remain on track.
Coincidentally, a recent World Bank Group, the Liberia Institute for Statistics and Geo-Information Services (LISGIS) and the Gallup Organization survey shows massive decline in the real sector of the economy, with self-employed and wage workers the hardest hit, while the agriculture sector is beginning to see returns to work as the harvest approaches.
Those targeted areas with the potential of accelerating the country’s post-Ebola recovery process according to a Finance and Development Planning Ministry’s press release include rebuilding the health system, reopening of schools, rehabilitation of the hydro and the bringing additional electricity on line, continuing the construction of more roads across the country, rehabilitation of the airport and investing in agriculture and the domestic private sector.
As part of the recovery process, the Liberian Government has directed its focus on the re-opening of schools across the country.
Toward this end, the MFDP has already established a US$1 million fund to assist the sector in getting ready for operations.
“The Ministry of Finance & Development Planning assures our citizens and development partners that every measure is being taken to maintain macroeconomic stability, as well as effective management of the economy during this difficult period in our country,” the MFDP release said.
The Liberian Government believes that maintaining a private sector investment goal that ensures that more Liberians have access to finance and participate in the nation’s economic recovery programs is paramount.
According to the press release, for the first half of the fiscal year ended 31 December 2014, the Government generated approximately US$298 million in revenue. Of this amount, US$209 million was generated from domestic sources (tax and non-tax revenues) while US$89 million came from external sources (Grants & Borrowing) as a result extensive negotiations with multilateral and bilateral partners.
In spite of the positive indications of reduction in cases, the Liberian Government was, during the same fiscal period, able to spend more than US$35 million on healthcare services including US$9 million on Ebola Response and US$6 million for the restoration of basic health care services across the country even though the economy was severely challenged as a result of the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD).
In addition to this, efforts were exerted to ensure that the operations of Government continued unimpeded, including regular salary payments to active civil servants and non-essential staffs who were requested to stay home due to the crisis, US$106 million was expended on salaries and compensation related items. It was a decision of the President and the Government that in order to minimize the livelihood impact of the Ebola crisis, non-essential staff and all civil servants continue to receive their income to purchase basic food and other supplies.
The MFDP also reports that in addition to expenses on healthcare, other critical sectors still received support: Security (US$35 million); education (US$28 million); energy (US$6 million); infrastructure (US$27.7 million), senatorial elections (US$9.5 million) among others.
As part of measures to accelerate economic recovery, the MFDP says it has provided special support for Agricultural investment (US$2 million) and Private Sector development (US$1 million). These programs have already been established and fully funded.
The MFDP averred that it is looking forward to working with key institutions like the Liberia Revenue Authority (LRA), the Central Bank of Liberia (CBL) and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs as the second half of the fiscal year begins.
Through this partnership, the Ministry hopes to intensify its revenue generation and fund raising efforts in ensuring that the required resources are available to fund the rebuilding of key social services infrastructures and our overall development agenda.
The Ministry therefore counts on all Liberians and partners for their support and cooperation in meeting these targets during this very challenging period in our country’s history.