16 November 2012

Liberia: U.S. Hails Liberia

Photo: Tami Hultman/allAfrica.com
Properly managed, Liberia's extensive natural resources can produce jobs, like the 500 created when ArcelorMittal reopened iron ore mines last year with a $1.5 billion investment.

U.S. Ambassador Deborah Malac has commended Liberia for its political and economic progress in the post-war period and has explained how the U.S. Government is assisting Liberia in its recovery. She made the comments during a keynote address on November 14 to the Liberia Chamber of Commerce (LCC) in Monrovia.

In her remarks, Ambassador Malac praised Liberia for making great strides since the end of 14 years of fighting. "Under President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf's leadership, Liberia has put itself on a positive path toward a brighter and more prosperous future," she said.

"But we all know that even in the best of circumstances, even with unlimited public resources, government and the public sector cannot do it all." She noted that over the long term, sustainable economic growth will rely on the strength of Liberia's private sector and on investor-friendly government economic policies.

The Ambassador outlined what she views as the challenges facing Liberia as it works to achieve long-term growth. She said the challenges include ensuring stability and physical security, improving the country's infrastructure, establishing transparent economic policies and practices to attract investment, rebuilding its educational system, fixing its land records, and eradicating corruption. She praised the Government of Liberia for its progress but said more needs to be done.

Ambassador Malac noted that the United States maintains a strong partnership with Liberia, and is the country's largest donor, providing an estimated $200 million a year. "Capacity building in various sectors is an important area of collaboration between Liberia and its partners," she said.

"For example, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) is working with more than a dozen ministries and agencies to strengthen their financial management systems, increase transparency and reduce opportunities for corruption."

She said the U.S. government, through programs administered by USAID, is also working to improve the country's agricultural development by helping farmers improve their productivity and the transportation of their products to market, and by expanding access to capital for small businesses in the agriculture and food sectors.

Ambassador Malac said another important U.S. contribution to Liberia is the work that USAID and the Peace Corps are doing in close coordination with the Ministry of Education to improve the educational system to strengthen the skills and capacities of the country's youth.

The Ambassador called on the audience not to overlook the progress that has been made in Liberia already: "It is important not to lose sight of how much has been accomplished, and to work together to build on that progress," she said.

"This work requires cooperation between the public and private sectors and coordination among donors and investors. The United States is committed to our partnership with Liberia and will continue to support the Government of Liberia's vision to move the country forward, building on the progress to date."

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