Liberia’s President George Manneh Weah has pledged his administration’s commitment to implementing recommendations that emerged from the three-day National Economic Dialogue held at the Ministerial Complex in Congo Town, outside Monrovia recently.
Held under the theme “National Economic Revival and Growth: Critical Issues, Challenges, and the Way Forward,” the dialogue was attended by actors from the civil society, youth, opposition political parties, economists, banking sector, women, and international partners, as well as the private sector, among others, who built the consensus document after brainstorming in separate sessions.
“The stakeholders from diverse backgrounds showcased a true sense of love for country,” said Dr Togar McIntosh, Chair of the Independent National Economic Dialogue Secretariat, and coordinator of the conference.
To the excitement of the jam-packed hall, the four-pillar strategy intended to revive and grow the Liberian economy recommended that government should muster the will to address immediate and medium-term challenges associated with: a) Public Finance Mobilization and Management; b) Investment and Private Sector Growth; c) Unemployment and Skills Development; and d) Peace-building and Reconciliation.
President Weah said his government’s focus will be on implementation despite the fact that the issue of timing will matter on synchronization and harmonization of the recommendations with programs, plans, and policies that already exist.
President Weah demonstrated the political will to implement the recommendations by announcing the setting up of strategic cabinet committees that will fast-track efforts to ensure the realization of the different thematic areas of focus, to bring relief to the Liberian people.
“To this end,” he said, “we will establish four implementation subcommittees of the cabinet in consonance with the four major topics that formed the agenda for discussion during this dialogue, namely the Cabinet Committee On Public Finance and Management; the Cabinet Committee On Investment Promotion and Private Sector Growth; Cabinet Committee On Youth Employment and Skills Development; and Cabinet Committee On Peace-building and Reconciliation.”
The committees will, from-time-to-time, report to full cabinet on their progress, he pointed out, suggesting to stakeholders that the national economic dialogue be convened annually where implementation efforts can be reviewed and analysed each year, the economic situation in the country to allow for prompt remedial actions.
The President also announced he will shortly appoint a pro bono “High Council of Economic Advisors” in his office. The Council will be made up of renowned Liberian and non-Liberian experts in a variety of economic-related disciplines. According to the President, “It will be required to meet on a quarterly basis to review the economic policies and programs and advice my Government accordingly.”
The Chief Executive then lauded the courage of all the participants in the dialogue and assured that the efforts “will not be in vain and I will ensure that the people of Liberia reap positive benefits from all that you have done here over the past three days.”
“Let me remind all Liberians that regardless of political affiliation, religion, creed, or tribe; whether resident or in the Diaspora that we all have an obligation to contribute our ideas, suggestions for the revitalization of our economy.” he added.
Among highlights of the recommendations, for instance, under the pillar of Public Finance Mobilization and Management; stakeholders want the government to immediately complete the process for enactment of the Customs Code. They also want to negotiate and restructure external debts; quantify, validate domestic debts and negotiate around the findings. The government will also be expected to capitalize the Central Bank of Liberia; enforce existing fiscal rules, ensure compliance of audit and other regulatory findings; engage partners to improve aid management and coordination, to state few of the points of agreement.