26 March 2014

Liberia: 'Cash Transfers Can't Solve Our Problems'

Finance Minister Amara Konneh has presented what seems to be an assessment of the current economic and post conflict situation of the country, accentuating that no amount of cash transfers or distributions amongst individual Liberians can solve the problems being faced by the country and its people.

Minister Konneh said after several years of civil war and massive destructions in the country, the government needs to concentrate on the rebuilding of the country's damaged infrastructures which requires lot of financial resources.

Addressing a special press conference at the Ministry of Information Tuesday, the Finance Minister said in keeping with this vision the government under its economic transformation pillar is making good progress on rebuilding economic infrastructure across Liberia.

Minister Konneh said roads and bridges are being built and rehabilitated coupled with the ongoing rebuilding of the country's energy generating infrastructures, the Mount Coffee Hydro power project, the West African Power and other projects.

He said the rehabilitation of the Mount Coffee Power Plant, which is a flagship initiative of the Liberian government, is being supplemented with three 10MW Heavy Fuel Oil Plants.

"We're also working with Cote d'Ivoire, Guinea, and Sierra Leone as a consortium to tap into West Africa Power Pool, which will bring electricity to Liberia from Cote d'Ivoire going through Nimba, Bassa, Margibi, Montserrado, Bomi and Cape Mount to Sierra Leone from the remote parts of Liberia... " Minister Konneh said.

The Finance Minister said the government is also implementing rural electrification projects, which are extending electricity from Ivory Coast to Grand Gedeh, River Gee and Maryland counties in order to give poor Liberians and small businesses access to cheap electricity for the first time in Liberia.

He said as equally important, the government is also implementing various road projects including the Redlight to Ganta, Ganta to Guinea Border highway, Harper to Fishtown, which are currently opening economic corridors, connecting business people and farmers to Monrovia and other market places.

He stated that feasibility studies are also being conducted on the section of the highway that links Fishtown to Zwedru and the feasibility studies for the Ganta to Zwedru highway is expected to be conducted later this year.

Touching on the economy, Minister Konneh said of late, the country's economy has been experiencing some "turbulence" but in spite of these challenges, he assured that the economic flight is still on course and is expected to land safely.

Konneh: "Over the next few days, we will be airing some pictorial evidence of the progress taking place all across the country. With support from our development partners and cooperation from our cabinet colleagues, a number of construction works are happening all over the country. For example, a street pavement project is well in advance in Voinjama, Lofa county; rehabilitation works on the Mount Coffee Hydro Power Plant is ongoing; construction of the fuel unloading facility to support our HFO plants is in progress; construction of three (3) HFO plants underway; pavement of the Red-light to Ganta-Guniea border road is in full speed; construction of the Marshall road is ongoing; pavement of the Ganta-Yekepa road is about to commence; pavement of Harper to Kanokan road is expected soon; mobilization works for the reconstruction of the Freeport-Somalia Drive to Redlight corridor has started; expansion of rural electrification is far advanced with Ganta city being lighted and a separate project to interconnect

Ivory Coast, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea being concluded etc. These are few of the key interventions that are taking place on the infrastructure side."

According to him, even on the long term development front, the fundamentals of the economy remain sound and very supportive of the micro-economic and development transformation agenda of the Liberian government.

The Minister spoke about the Steering Committee of the Liberia Development Alliance (LDA), the multi-stakeholder forum that coordinates all development planning and fundraising efforts, met on Saturday March 22nd, 2014 in the port city of Buchanan to receive the progress report on the first year implementation of the Agenda for Transformation (AfT) and as well as review bottlenecks, challenges, and areas of opportunities relative to the implementation of the strategy.

The Agenda for Transformation is the medium term growth and development strategy of government and it is also a critical centerpiece of our long term vision, Liberia Rising 2030.

Moreover, the AfT is a road map that guides the interventions of this administration over the next five years (2012 - 2017). The overarching goal of the Agenda for Transformation is to make interventions in the economy that develops the country in such a way that more opportunities are available thereby reducing marginalization and inequality.

Konneh: "The evidence we reviewed over the weekend shows that we are making progress together. This level of progress would not have been possible if the Liberian people were not exhibiting the kind of resilience and patience we are witnessing. Sometimes we forget to recognize the supportive role the ordinary people are playing in national development. Let me hasten to remind each of us that no level of progress or development can be achieved without the support and contribution of the ordinary people.

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