The Central Bank of Liberia has injected US$5 million into the private sector, opening a new chapter in the lives of Liberian businesses and entrepreneurs.
Central Bank Executive Governor Dr. Mills Jones said the move was intended to empower and bolster Liberian business entrepreneurs to take full charge of the country's economy.
If Liberia must grow and develop, it has to be done by Liberian business entrepreneurs, Jones said. This is the first time the CBL is dishing such huge amount to empower Liberian businesses, though it had earlier provided US$10 million to low cost housing projects, US$7.5 million to the agriculture sector and about half a million to strengthen local businesses.
Under the scheme, three commercial banks--First International Bank, International Bank Liberia limited and Ecobank--with the consent and supervision of the Liberia Business Association (LIBA) (recipient of the loan) will give out loans to qualified local businesses that are members of LIBA.
Speaking Monday at program marking the launch of the scheme, Governor Jones said it was time to empower Liberians to run their country's economy through flexible loan programs that will enable them to access capital.
Jones said the CBL will not relent in working with LIBA to empower the private sector which is the engine of growth in any society, noting that empowering the private sector 'is about the people, the businesses, the economy and the country'.
Access to capital, the CBL Governor noted, has remained one of the major challenges standing in the way of the private sector, particularly Liberian businesses, and hoped that the US$5 million would help alleviate some of these challenges.
Interest rates will not exceed 7% and maturity periods will be longer more than normal banking loans said Jones. The Governor hoped that the loan, directly from the CBL, would yield better outcomes in strengthening Liberian businesses.
He applauded the smooth working relationship between the CBL and LIBA and called for knowledge and experience sharing in LIBA.
He warned against disunity and ethnicity and challenged LIBA not to be Monrovia-based so that other qualified businesses in rural Liberia could benefit from the loan scheme.
LIBA President D. Maxwell Kemeyan applauded the CBL for the loan and promised that it would be used for the purpose intended.
He warned that under the scheme, loans will not be indiscriminately dished out to businesses because they are members of LIBA, but to committed and dedicated members with integrity, who would be capable of paying back.
The track records of beneficiaries will be thoroughly checked to ensure that they are credit worthy before any of the banks would be authorized to give out loans.
"Today marks another big milestone in the history of Liberia," Kemeyan noted, saying that if peace, security and stability must exist in any nation, the economy wheel must be protected, producing as situation where wealth is created and the masses benefitting. No amount of foreign direct investment, he propounded, can savor the situation if the private sector is not empowered.
He sang special praises on the CBL Governor and commended President Sirleaf for reappointing a Jones that has tremendously worked to empower Liberian businesses over the years, revealing the true meaning of the CBL.
The CBL, in the past, Kemeyan indicated, was considered as an entity for encashment of checks, but it is today massively intervening into transforming the economy of Liberia. A new day, he said, has come.
Hundreds of business tycoons from most parts of the country graced yesterday's launching of the US$5million loan scheme which took place at the City Hall of Monrovia.