Monrovia — he Minister of Finance and Development Planning, Honorable Amara M. Konneh, at the head of a high-powered Liberian Government delegation, is in Washington DC, USA to attend the 2016 Spring Meetings of the World Bank (WB) and International Monetary Fund (IMF).
While in the United States capital, Minister Konneh held talks with senior officials of the International Monetary Fund, World Bank Group, The United States Peace Corps, United States Government departments of State and Treasury, African Development Bank, International Finance Corporation, among other partners.
According to a dispatch, Minister Konneh commended Liberia's development and traditional partners for the level of support Liberia enjoys and emphasized the need for further financial and technical assistance.
He lamented the critical need for swift intervention amid the twin shocks the Liberian economy has experienced from the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD), the decline in the global commodities prices, particularly the traditional growth sectors of Iron Ore and Rubber, the imminent United National Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) drawdown in June 2016 as well as the upcoming General and Presidential Elections; all of which, he emphasized, poses further uncertainties that may have economic, political, and social and security risks.
Minister Konneh's pitch for increased support coincides with the release of the International Monetary Fund's World Economic Outlook, which predicts an extended period of slow global growth of only 3.2% in 2016 and 3.5% in 2017. These figures represent a second downgrade of the Fund's forecast just this year. The IMF's Primary Commodity Price Index has declined 19% since August 2015.
To help ameliorate the impact of the dire economic situation in Liberia, Minister Konneh articulated committed measures by the Liberian government, which is intended to generate additional revenue to account for said deficit.
"These measures include: Fuel excise charge (storage charge), surcharge on outbound international calls, Increase Goods and Services Tax (GST) rate - all of which is expected generate US$45.9 million in new revenues. Additional cuts to the recurrent expenditure ceiling especially goods and services as well as subsidizes and transfers and Grants to some non- productive entities," he disclosed.
"The FY15/16 Revenue envelope is expected to decline from $643.2 million to $552 million, far lower than the projection prior to the Ebola crisis and commodity price downturn. For FY 2016/17, revenues are projected to be at $478.6million", Minister Konneh averred.
He further stated that there are growing needs for increased expenditure, especially in the aftermath of the Ebola crisis, as a countercyclical measure and the need to ensure credible elections. He made particular reference to government's commitment to continuous spending in human development areas such as health, education and agriculture (value chain).
The dispatch further noted that Minister Konneh also used the opportunity to inform Liberia's International partners about his impending departure from Government, to take up assignment with the World Bank Group in Nairobi, Kenya.
In response, Liberia's international partners assured the Liberian government through Minister Konneh, of their unrelenting support to the Agenda for Transformation (AfT), and the Economic Stabilization and Recovery Plan (ESRP), with specific emphasis on budget support, the UNMIL drawdown as well as the 2017 presidential elections.
Officials traveling with Minister Konneh include Dr. Bernice Dahn, Minister of Health, Mr. Charles Sirleaf, Acting Governor, Central Bank of Liberia, Dr. Mounir Siaplay, Deputy Minister for Economic Management, Ministry of Finance and Development Planning (MFDP), Mr. Bernard Jappah, Public Financial Management Reforms Coordinator at MFDP and Mr. John Davies, President of LBDI among others.