The President of the Republic H.E Joseph Nyuma Boakai has laid out his administration’s agenda, critical to tackling litany of challenges affecting national growth and sustainable development. Delivering his Annual Message to the National Legislature on Monday, President Boakai said the state of the nation his administration inherited is not the desire of the Liberian people.
President Boakai disclosed that poverty, drug abuse, corruption, poor infrastructure, and an underperforming economy continue to undermine national development and the livelihood of Liberians. Speaking in the joint chambers of the National Legislature of Liberia, President Boakai lamented that the current challenges present his administration with a unique opportunity to set the country on a renewed trajectory.
The President reemphasized his government’s commitment to rescue the nation, as revealed in the ARREST Agenda. He said it is high time Liberians harness opportunities in agriculture, roads, and infrastructure development, improve the rule of law, rethink the education sector, improve sanitation, and unlock the potential of the tourism sector.
“We believe that creating economic linkages between these development facets and reinforcing them will help reverse years of economic downturns.” The President lamented. According to him, the state of the economy calls for concern amid the current nature of perennial unemployment and economic instability citizens faced.
Emphasizing further, the President said: “We must not just recognize the pain and frustration that permeate our society, but also work together to introduce and pass legislations that will prioritize economic reforms that foster sustainable economic growth and job creation.”
On the state of the economy, President Boakai reported how economic growth slowed between 2022 and 2023, from 4.8 percent to 4.6 percent. He stated: “The rate of growth averaged about 1.5 percent, compared with 3.1 percent between 2012 and 2017 due in part to an underperforming economy and the existing geo-political global environment.”
According to him, the economy faced challenges during the past six years in terms of growth, job creation, and poverty reduction. “Inflation during the period 2023 rose to 10.1 percent at the end of December, from 7.6 percent in 2022. Revenue collection as reported for 2023 stood at US$710.23 million while expenditure totaled US$796.32 million; hence, a large budget deficit of over US$80 million.” He intoned.
The President further noted that his administration intends to change the state of the economy by thinking “outside the box”, doing away with reliance on primary commodity export to focusing on value addition with the private sector as the engine to drive the economy.
President Boakai also announced the reintroduction of the Liberianization policy which would help to empower Liberian businesses and promote growth and jobs creation. “In our quest to expand the economy, we will leverage Information Communication Technology (ICT) in creating jobs, especially for our youth,” he accentuated.
The President also disclosed that his administration will build the capacities to 10,000 young people in various digital skills in the first half of 2024. President Boakai asserted that the Liberian middle-class goal must be a reality in the next 6 years.
The President however discounted what the past administration reported on the net international reserves. “The report of US $40 million as the GoL’s consolidated account balance as at January 19, 2024 is not supported by the fact,” he asserted, adding that the balance reported by the CBL as of the same date was US$20.5 million, not US$40 million as reported.
The President said the disparity places emphasis on earlier commitment to audit and ensure that regular audits will be a culture across all branches of government, not only the Executive. “The stock of public debt at the End of December 2023 stood at US$2.21 billion, an increase of 8.67 percent compared to the End of December 2022 stock of US$2.08 billion,” he further divulged.
According to the President, this represents a sharp increase of US$1.33 billion compared to the end of December 2017 stock of US$878.17 million representing 601.8 percent rise. President Boakai also disclosed that the country’s debt burden has clearly grown astronomically and lamented the necessity of the Rescue Mission stating: “certainly, the rescue mission was a necessity for Liberia’s transformation,”
“As I am speaking, Liberia is under sanction for lack of payment of dues to the African Union and the African Development Bank,” he went on saying. “Also, a default in payment of about US$650,000 to the European Investment Bank is preventing a disbursement of over US$13 million for the Sanniquellie-Loguato road,” President Boakai announced.
The President said that his government will reintroduce the Fiscal Rules and Travel Ordinance in addition to other measures to help address waste and abuse and ensure the return of prudent fiscal management. “We will ensure that the executive leads by example.” He Concluded.
He also declared that the drug epidemic calls for a major concern and that his administration will take it seriously by setting an example as he and his Vice President will lead the charge and take the drugs test. He declared the drugs and substance as a public health emergency. He further went on to form a committee with the as Ministry of Heath as Chair, Ministry of Justice as Co-Chair, Ministry of Youth&Sports as Co-Chair, Ministry of Gender, Child&Social Protection, Member, Liberia Drug Enforcement Agency, Member and the Ministry of Finance&Development Planning.
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Republic of Liberia: Executive Mansion.