14 February 2017

Liberia: Huge Infrastructure Deficit - Liberia's Investment Commissioner Alarms

Monrovia — Liberia's economy is poor and its infrastructure development is struggling due to huge infrastructure deficit, according to the Executive Director of the National Investment Commission, George Wisner.

He said this situation is impeding infrastructure growth and the need to ensure quality new investment is essential.

"Some time now, our government has been propagating some economic policy that emphasizes diversification away from the extractive sector and as arm of government responsible to help government economic policy by ensuring quality new investment in every area of our national economy."

"We have been working with stakeholders over the time to see what could be the best approach in speeding up government development objectives," Wisner intoned.

Making statements Monday, February 13 in Monrovia at a forum on the Public Private Partnership (PPP) readiness assessment report, Wisner said Liberia has to spend at least US$300 million to US$500 million annually on an average within the next ten years in order to meet the minimum standard of infrastructure growth.

The assessment report, according to Wisner, is intended to give Liberia a picture of its status to access the country's preparedness and challenges that must be mitigated during implementing the PPP Policy.

He said government is currently spending up to US$100 Million on public investment infrastructures which he said is not enough to reach the minimum standard of infrastructure growth within the nearest possible time.

The NIC boss described PPP as the best policy to accelerate development and put the country on par with other countries that have met the minimum standard set for infrastructure growth.

"We think Public Private Partnership is the best way to speed this up since government does not have the budgetary might and if even they have, government does not have the time to do all that is required to build our infrastructure," Wisner asserted.

He said though agriculture has been emphasized as a key sector in diversifying Liberia's economy, it would be possible if there are necessary infrastructures to do that.

"Whether it is road or port infrastructure, sea and airport, whether it is telecommunications infrastructure, electricity or water, you have to have them in place," Wisner said.

These infrastructures, according to him, are important in accelerating the diversification of Liberia's Economy and government partnership with the private sector is the surest way to foster these developments.

He said the United Kingdom has been generous in partnering with Liberia to move the PPP Policy forward, while describing the PPP as a long journey which started with the development of policies that are now at its final stage of validation.

At the same time, Mr. Wisner questioned Liberia's readiness to undertake the PPP relative to the country having the requisite knowledge, competence and skills since the struggling economy has created hindrances.

For his part, British Ambassador accredited near Monrovia David Belgrove said the PPP is an important tool that can promote infrastructure growth in Liberia.

He said it is important for Liberia to maximize the policy.

Ambassador Belgrove said the partnership has benefitted other countries including the United Kingdom.

"The UK is one of the first countries that used the Public Private Partnership to improve its investment and there were lessons learnt along the way," Ambassador Belgrove said.


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