Home Economy From ‘Bad Shape To Stable Economy’…Outgoing W/B Country Manager Lauds Liberia

From ‘Bad Shape To Stable Economy’…Outgoing W/B Country Manager Lauds Liberia

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By E. Geedahgar Garsuah

MONROVIA: World Bank’s departing Country Manager for Liberia, Dr. Khwima Nthara, has lauded the Government of Liberia (GoL), for turning the previous ‘bad shape’ of Liberia’s macroeconomics into a more stable one.

Dr. Nthara also described Liberia as “beacon of sound macroeconomic management” in the West African region.

He also rained praises on Liberia’s President, George Manneh Weah, for “exhibiting a strong sense of commitment and vision geared towards ensuring Liberia’s dire macroeconomic situation is stabilized.
“While many people were envious of me that I was coming to such a unique country, many more were feeling sorry because the entire macroeconomic situation at the time was in bad shape. I recall some were even saying I had fallen for a poison chalice, a basket case. But, I have to say, as soon as I arrived and had my first interaction with you, Mr. President, the Minister of Finance, Hon. Samuel D. Tweah Jr, and other key members of your administration, I was so energized and inspired. I was encouraged by the clarity of your vision and the commitment you showed to turning things around,” Dr. Nthara told President Weah.
He also applauded the Liberian leader for initiating a retreat with World Bank, and Liberia’s cabinet members.

The engagement played a pivotal role in fostering a “productive partnership with the government and the World Bank.”

“Indeed, before long, you lived up to your word, and presided over the retreat between the World Bank and your Cabinet, on Sunday, December 15, 2019.”

Held under the theme: “Maximizing World Bank Group’s support to Liberia,” the retreat, according to Dr. Nthara, set the stage for what has been characterized as “a truly rewarding and productive partnership, between World Bank and Liberia.”

The World Bank Executive made these remarks at a program in his honor for services rendered Liberia during his stay in the country.

The program took place at the famous Ellen Johnson Sirleaf Ministerial Complex in Oldest Congo Town, outside Monrovia on Thursday, March 9, 2023.

Reminiscing on the government’s efforts aimed at stabilizing the macroeconomic climate of Liberia, Dr. Nthara said: “Your Government turned the macro-situation around that saw inflation declined from around 37% in 2019 to a single digit. I recall when I arrived, the exchange rate was around 200 Liberian Dollars to 1 US dollar, but the Liberian dollar has gained strength and is now at around 154 Liberian Dollars to 1 US dollar.”

Liberia stands out in the region as a beacon of sound macroeconomic management. It is for this reason, that in 2020, Liberia also reached the threshold for graduation from the World Bank’s list of Fragile and Conflict-affected states.

He also attributed the success in the stabilization of the Liberian economy to the government’s commitment to do the right things.

He named some of the right things as the harmonization plan among several others.

“All these achievements were possible because your Government followed through with your commitment to do the right things and it turned the situation around.

“Some of the steps you took, such as wage harmonization, were not popular, but you did not waiver,” he said.

The World Bank Executive further said, “it is based on the Liberian Government’s commitment to doing the right things that “we were also able to make a case with our Senior Management and our Board to double budgetary support to Liberia from US$20 million per year to $40 million.”

Last year, 2023, the amount was even increased to $55 million. This is because your Government implemented some key reforms that attracted additional resources from one of the special windows. Liberia was the first country in the whole World Bank to receive budgetary resources under that window.”

Aside from recognizing the government’s success in the economy, the World Bank’s outgoing Country Manager also praised the Liberian government for reaching several new heights in its partnership with the Bank.

“Mr. President, beyond stabilizing the macroeconomic situation, we have over the past four years broken many new records in our partnership. The Bank’s net commitments to national projects doubled from around $500 million to $1 billion. Today, the World Bank’s portfolio in Liberia stands at $1.4 billion.”

“Within this portfolio, we have seen World Bank financing to agriculture tripled from US$25 million in 2018 to US$80 million today,” he added.

He highlighted the many gains Liberia has attracted from the World Bank during his three years seven months stay in the country.

He named areas wherein the bank had never made any intervention such as private sector support through the Liberia Investment, Finance, and Trade project (LIFT) which was officially launched on Tuesday, March 7, 2023.

According to the World Bank outgoing Representative, the LIFT Project is the first of its kind in Liberia’s history and that the World Bank has approved a total package of US$44.6 million for initiatives that are centered on women empowerment.
He said, “Together, we also put together significant amounts of financing in areas where the Bank was never involved before, such as in supporting the private sector through the Liberia Investment, Finance, and Trade Project, (LIFT) that you launched on Tuesday, and for the first time in the history of Liberia.

Similarly, in energy, for the first time in the whole World Bank, our Board committed to a long-term financing program under what is known as the Multi-Phase Approach. “I can go on and on,” he averred.

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