28 January 2019

Liberia: "The State of Our Nation Is Strong and Stable," President Weah Declares

Photo: Leroy M. Sonpon, III/ Liberian Observer
President George M. Weah, during his second Annual Address to the Joint session of the National Legislature on January 28, 2019.

Performing the sacred responsibilities bequeathed upon on him by the Constitution, which is to give the administration's legislative and administrative reports annually, President George Manneh Weah Monday, January 28, 2019 declared that the state of the nation was strong and stable.

Giving accounts of his stewardship for the 1st year in office, the President said while much is still needed to be done in terms of achieving overall national development and getting Liberians out of poverty, the government has been able to steer the affairs of state sufficiently through the grace of God.

"It is a little over a year since we took on the mantle of leadership to transform your lives for the better. It was a journey of profound opportunities and endless possibilities," he told the nation in his report to the National Legislature. "At the same time, it was a herculean task filled with challenges. But I am grateful that we were able to sail safely through difficult times in our first year of Service to our people. Certainly, this could not have been possible without the help and guidance of the Almighty; but also due to your patience, sacrifices, collaboration and cooperation."

"And so today, I stand before you with confidence, and declared that the state of our nation is strong, peaceful, united, stable and promising, with great prospects for better future for all."

The president said accepting the challenge to serve the nation and people was not only the dawn of a new era, but an opportunity to right the wrongs, address the plights of our people, heal their wounds and confront every challenge and obstacle that stood in the way of transforming their lives.

He said his government has stood firm to the commitment it made to the people, and did not disappoint or fail them.

The Liberian leader credited the government's 1st year feat to the diligence and tenacity his government brought to the process, as well as the support from other branches of the Government and international partners.

"I can confidently state that Liberia is far better today under our leadership, than it was twelve months ago when we were entrusted with the mandate to serve our people," President Weah noted, adding, "We were resolved for change, and we remained committed to that cause during our first year of service to our people."

While acknowledging these achievements of the first year, he said his administration was not oblivious of the many challenges ahead, neither was it an affirmation that the government has reached the peak in addressing the issues confronting Liberians.

"But I can assure you that we are more energetic and motivated than we have ever been," President stated with the assurance that "We are committed to changing your lives and to leading this Country to a prosperous future of countless opportunities."

According to the President, the government will not rest until it reaches the peak of its development agenda as enshrined in the Pro-Poor Agenda for Prosperity and Development (PAPD), stressing "we have resolved with a new mindset... a patriotic mindset geared towards total development, economic growth and empowerment."

"We will not rest until we pave the last road leading to the remotest part our country," he vowed.

Also weighing in on the current state of economy, President Weah pledged that his administration would not rest until prices of basic commodities are made affordable and that equitable distribution of our national wealth is achieved.

The President also provided positive insight into the economy, stating "despite the challenges, robustness in revenue policy and administration and the support of donor partners have resulted into greater revenue receipts in 2018 as compared to 2017."

President Weah put revenue collection for 2018 including grants at $480.6M, compared to $454M in 2017, representing 5.7% growth, stating "This strong performance was driven by higher receipts of tax and non-tax revenues."

He expressed gratitude to Liberia's partners who he said contributed approximately ten times more in budget support grants in 2018 than in 2017 in the tone of $38M in 2018, compared to $4.8 million in 2017.

"Tax revenue increased from $384.9 million United States dollars in 2017, to $387.6 million United States dollars in 2018," the President announced; "Non-tax revenue increased from $55 million United States dollars in 2017, to $64.7 million in 2018, mainly on account of active collection of the Road Fund Levy."

He said expenditure for 2018 amounted to $502M, compared to $434.3M at the end of November 2017.

He indicated: "The increase in government expenditures consistently reminds us about the desire of the Liberian people for meaningful developments, which are in line with our Change for Hope mandate."

"When we came to power, we inherited a debt of $878.2 million United States dollars at the end of 2017."

The Liberian leader said Liberia's current debt stock stands at $987.8 million in 2018, while the increase in the debt stock is put at $109.6 million during the period under review. He said this was mainly on account of disbursements from borrowing external loan portfolios, including the World Bank, African Development Bank, BADEA and Saudi Arabia, which were ratified in 2017.

"To date, my administration has not added to the debt stock but that does not mean we will not increase the stock of debt. In the interest of our people, we are working on this," President Weah announced.

He thanked development partners for the level of assistance rendered his government, while putting the official development assistance received from January up to September 2018 at about $399M.

Of this amount, he declared approximately $279.2 million, represents seventy percent (70%) in grants; while the remaining $120 million United States dollars represents thirty percent (30%) received as concessional loans.

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