By: Varney Dukuly
MONROVIA: As the governing Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC), led government draws close to the climax of its first six-year tenure in steering the affairs of the Liberian nation, President George Manneh Weah says, his administration’s flagship development agenda, styled: “Pro-Poor Agenda for Prosperity and Development (PADP)” remains an expression of peace, prosperity and national development.
The PAPD is also a framework document launched in 2018 by the Weah Administration as national development plan with focus on inclusion, more equitable distribution of the nation’s wealth and rights-based approach to national development.
President Weah: “The PAPD remains the best expression of our collective ambition to achieve peace, prosperity, and national development and address the critical constraints to growth, such as regional disparity, low human capacity, and the poor distribution of our national wealth.”
The Pro-Poor Agenda framework document, Weah insists, does not only align with the country’s development plans but also the African Union’s Agenda 2063 and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the United Nations (UN), as well as the vision of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).
Amid reports of daunting challenges facing Liberia, ranging from endemic poverty and unemployment for young people, bad road connectivity, poor power supply, and many others in both urban and rural areas, President Weah avers that tremendous efforts have been made to meet the desires and expectations of the Liberian people.
“Over the last three years, tremendous efforts have been made to meet the expectations of the Liberian people through massive investments in road infrastructure, the expansion of the electricity network in both rural and urban areas, investment in health and education,” the Liberian leader accentuated.
The development of the PAPD was a broad-based consultative process that included all stakeholders including agencies of the government, our development partners, the UN system, civil society organizations and the private sector, he added.
The aim of the PAPD is to place Liberia on a higher trajectory of inclusive economic growth, secure peace and democracy, reduce poverty, solve infrastructure constraints in roads, electricity, port and telecommunications; improve agriculture, transform governance, improve the business climate and provide the means for private sector led growth.
Accordingly, the Liberian leader noted that his administration has moved in the direction of health to provide new health facilities and to address challenges to the quality of care.
For education, the President informed members of the International Community and members of the PAPD steering Committee of the progress his administration has made so far.
“In education, we are building nearly 100 new schools and have taken steps to bring more Liberians into higher education by abolishing payment of tuition fees at public colleges and universities and have reduced the burden on parents by having Government pays the West African examination fees for 12th graders,” Weah said.
He recollected that in 2019, macroeconomic shocks that began in 2018 gravely affected the PAPD. ‘This shock was followed by the COVID pandemic, which the world is now living with.
He said, considering these challenges, the Government has to revise and recalibrate the ambitions of the PAPD.
“Despite these revisions, the PAPD remains on course and has been able to achieve a lot, while still dealing with numerous challenges. In the course of these recent difficulties, we moved swiftly as a Government to prioritize public expenditure and aggressively grow domestic revenue,” he disclosed.
The Liberian leader made these assertions on Monday, April 11, 2022, at the start of a Steering Committee Meeting of the PAPD, held at the Chinese-built Ministerial Complex, built by the People’s Republic of China (PRC) in Congo Town.
President Weah, at the same time, thanked the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning (MFDP), headed by Samuel Doe Tweah Jr., for coordinating with all stakeholders to arrive at this Steering Committee meeting after holding several pillars and sector meetings.
“Let me, on behalf of our leadership, express my deepest gratitude to the Cabinet, to our Development Partners, and to friends of Liberia for the tremendous support towards the implementation of the PAPD,” Weah said.
The Pro-Poor Agenda for Prosperity and Development (2018 to 2023), is the second in the series of 5-year National Development Plans (NDP) anticipated under the Liberia Vision 2030 framework.
It follows the Agenda for Transformation 2012-2017 (AfT). It is informed as well by lessons learned from the implementation of the Interim Poverty Reduction Strategy 2007 (iPRS) and the Poverty Reduction Strategy (2008-2011).
The fundamentals underpinning the PAPD are: (i) Liberia is rich in human and natural resources; but (ii) is deprived of development largely because its human capital lacks the knowledge to transform the natural resources into wealth—whether through farming, mining, fishing, or other productive ventures that require technology or financial investments.
“Consequently, Liberia is relatively rich in natural capital but relatively poor in relations to its peers in both human and produced capital. Moreover, because of a legacy of entrenched inequality in access to development opportunities, widespread infrastructure deficits and pervasive poverty have become the binding constraints to future growth and prosperity.
In the Document, the government acknowledges significant progress made over the past decade, the investments made and assistance received.
On the economic growth rates and life expectancy at birth, Liberia exceeded the Sub-Saharan Africa average for the same period.
PADP further indicated that the Gross National Income (GNI) per capita rose by 8.4 percent
from 1990 to 2015 while the Human Development Index (HDI) increased by 10.6 percent between 2000 and 2015.
Life expectancy at birth increased by 14 years and mean years of schooling by 1.8 years, over the same period.
Nevertheless, according to Agenda, Liberia remains in the low human development category and absolute poverty is on the rise in 5 of the 6 national statistical regions and that the gains produced by economic growth have not been universally felt nor are they sustainable.
The Pro-Poor Agenda is therefore about the people, how to strengthen their capacity to thrive; and how to draw all Liberians living at home and abroad into the national development process.
In line with the Pro-poor Agenda, the Weah Government had said upon its ascendency to state power that over the next five years, addressing the basic needs of Liberians for income security, better access to basic services, and greater opportunities for self-improvement in an enabling environment that is inclusive and stable will be at the core of
the pro-poor agenda.
“While one of the aims, over the long term, remains raising per capita income levels and economic status to a middle-income country as outlined under the Vision 2030 framework, the focus over the next five years will be on removing the binding constraints to reaching that goal,” the government said.