economy recorded an estimated 4.6 percent average growth rate during 2022 and 2023 and largely single-digit inflation during the same, especially during most part of the first half of 2023. Central Bank Executive Governor, J. Aloysius Tarlue, Jr. made the disclosure on Friday, December 29, 2023, at a year-end media engagement, emphasizing, that the economic performance was underpinned by the policies of the Government and prudent monetary policy pursued by the CBL. Executive Governor Tarlue further iterated that the single-digit inflation is consistent with the Banks core mandate of maintaining price stability, hence the primary goal of the CBL.
Liberia’s gross international reserves has also grown from less than 2.5 months of imports cover in the periods of 2018 and 2019 to over 3.0 months above the ECOWAS Convergence threshold, the Executive Governor averred.
This means that, as at end November 2023, the stock of the country’s gross international reserves would have financed the importation of goods and services in the economy in the event of external shocks, especially essential imports, for over three months, reflecting the resilience of the country to withstand external shocks.
Governor Tarlue also indicated that the current Management and Board of the CBL instituted appropriate measures and policies to deal with low confidence in the financial sector arising from acute Liberian dollar shortage and high non-performing loans (NPLs), which had threatened the health of the financial system.
According to the Executive Governor, the printing, minting and infusion of new banknotes and coins in the economy, beginning 2021 eased the acute Liberian dollar scarcity at commercial banks and strengthened confidence in the banking system, while the problem of NPLs remains a major challenge for the sector, despite effort by the CBL in collaboration with the Liberian Bankers Association (LBA) to bring it down from 21 percent in 2020 to around 16 percent in 2023.
Executive Governor Tarlue underscored CBL’s contribution to Liberia’s achievements under the IMF Extended Credit Facility (ECF), which led to several disbursements from the Special Drawing Rights (SDR) for the country.
Highlighting the achievements and progress of the CBL, the Governor Tarlue pointed out the digitalization of the Liberian financial system with extensive coverage of mobile money by motor bike riders, market women, farmers and street traders to facilitate their daily economic activities, bringing about more than 50 percent financial inclusion in 2022 from about 36 percent in 2019, increased visibility of the CBL with effort to establish CBL’s cash hubs across rural Liberia and relative macroeconomic and financial sector stability.
In furtherance, the Executive Governor recounted the completion of cash hubs in Bong County to serve central and northern parts of Liberia, ongoing construction of a second cash hub in Fish Town, River Gee County to service the Southeast of Liberia, and completion of the cash operations center in Voinjama, Lofa County to be operational in the first quarter of 2024 and completion of refurbishment of the former National and Savings Bank (NHSB) head office at Waterside to serve as the main cash operations center to complement and decongest the Central Bank Head Office.
The Executive Governor used the occasion to inform the media executives that the National Electronic Payment Switch (NEPS) and Integrated Credit Infrastructure projects, which are being financed by the World Bank under the Liberia Investment, Finance and Trade (LIFT) project, is on course and prioritized for installation to promote interoperability, access to credit by micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSME) in Liberia. These projects, the Executive Governor stressed, will support the economic growth and development of Liberia.
Executive Governor Tarlue lauded the AfDB, World Bank, IMF, UNDP, USAID and ECOWAS Central Banks for their support to the CBL and Liberia at large.
He also extended the appreciation to all stakeholders, including the Liberian people, for their continued support to the work of the Bank.