New Democrat (Monrovia)

10 December 2012

Liberia: Poverty Is Not Our Destiny

The Central Bank of Liberia Governor, Dr. J. Mills Jones says poverty is not our destiny and as such CBL's authority was not just reducing poverty but creating wealth as evidenced by the series of micro-loans the bank has provided to marketers and the Liberian Business Association.

"I say to you Liberian people that poverty is not our destiny and this is why we always try to make a point that our economic strategy is not just about reducing poverty but creating wealth, the basis for the highest standard of living," he stressed.

The CBL governor made the statement Saturday in celebration of the Bankers' week held at the Executive Pavilion on Broad Street.

He said the incidence of poverty was unacceptable. According to one estimate, 84% of the population is below the poverty line.

"The CBL was committed of moving forward with a strong and diversified economy that lift Liberia and Liberians. The Board of Governors are committed of working with all the stakeholders to lift Liberia; and our intent to lead is based on the mandate given to the bank in its charter.

"Notwithstanding, the positive development of the economy in the past few years importance, challenges remain. The incidence of poverty (in our country) is unacceptable. According to one estimate, 84% of the population is below the poverty line," he said.

He also said translating economic growth into an improved social condition will be a difficult task for economic management for several years to come, and suggested the need to rebalance the sources of growth in the economy.

He informed the bankers that the Liberian economy remains on a relatively even course; something that is remarkable when the specifics against the lackluster performance of the economy for better part of 25 years prior to 2006.

He said the average economic growth in 2006 was about 7.4% compared to 1.5% for the period 2000-2005, and disclosed that debt burden is down to a manageable level and inflation is being contained which helps stretch purchasing power of low income citizens due to the stability of the exchange rate of the Liberian dollar to the greenback.

The level of the country's net international reserve is now in the hundreds of millions of dollars with positive benefits to the economy.

The CBL has been able to regularly prove foreign exchange to the private sector through its foreign object as much as US$68.1 million so far in 2012.

Other direct support in 2012 to the economy include a US$20 million loan to the government to help finance some development works undertaken by the National Port Authority.

He recounted as economic stimulus packets, the making available of US$5 million to Liberian owned businesses through the banking system for members of the Liberia Business Association,

US$10 million to help develop the housing market which is important for the development of middle class and US$7.5 million to enhance access to credits for the agriculture sector that we cannot afford to abandon if our national should rise above poverty.

"Today celebration clearly shows the key role the banking system continues to play in the Liberian economy. It is also a celebration of the commitment of the leadership of banking institutions to the future of the Liberian economy, especially the shareholders who have kept these institutions capitalized to satisfy the requirement of the Central Bank and cooperate with us to keep our reform agenda forward in general," he pointed out.

The program was attended by all heads of commercial banks, leaders of the business community as well as officials of government.

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