25 February 2013

Liberia: Gov't Admits Unemployment Gab

Despite several interventions by Government aimed at addressing numerous challenges in postwar Liberia, Finance Minister Amara Konneh has admitted the persistence of disconnect between those interventions and unemployment in the country.

"I just want the Liberian people to note that we know that there's disconnect between all the interventions and unemployment," he told journalists at the LDA cabinet meeting, a national dialogue seeking implementation matrix on the country's transformation agenda.

More than 200 senior cabinet and deputy ministers as well as civil society representatives and technocrats attended the weekend retreat at the Baptist Seminary on Schiefflin highway.

Over the past few years, the government of Liberia, through the Planning Ministry, has formulated several empowerment opportunities including the Poverty Reduction Strategy (PRS) for Liberian youths, most of them still unemployed.

President Sirleaf's heralded transformation agenda focuses on peace, security and development, attraction of over US$16 billion Direct Foreign Investments, government support to vocational and technical schools, the rehabilitation and reconstruction of roads, amongst others.

But, in spite of those interventions, Minister Konneh underscored unemployment as a serious disconnect between all of government's interventions and the national jobless population.

"All the things this government will do, and the investments we will make, we will do them in projects and programs that will begin to address the unemployment crisis," he said, describing the situation as a national crisis confronting the current dispensation.

"As far as we're concerned this is the crisis of our time," he stressed.

Mr. Konneh said production of cheap electricity and the building of roads would help to tackle unemployment and kickoff government's development drives, stressing: "We need to bring cheap electricity and, cheap electricity will bring factories, and factories will bring jobs to Liberians, and that's what we need to do."

However, he warned that such endeavors would not be materialized unless all three branches of the government--the Executive, Legislative and Judiciary--work together as a unit, bearing in mind that the interest of the country is supreme to individuals' personal pursuits.

Mr. Konneh said the participation of all stakeholders at the meeting was impressive and encouraging, which indicates the willingness and commitment on the part of the government to bring development to its citizenry.

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