Ganta — The Deputy Minister for Budget at the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning (MFDP), Tanneh G. Brunson, has urged stakeholders to "reflect" and "clearly identify" the negative impact of COVID-19 on the achievement of Government's planned targets.
Speaking at the opening of a-five day Technical Retreat to review the Pro-poor Agenda for Prosperity and Development (PAPD) result matrix, Minister Brunson called on stakeholders attending the retreat to identify an articulated path to what needs to be done, feasibility of the planned targets within the next three years and how those targets can be achieved.
Min. Brunson said at the week-long retreat, which is currently underway in Ganta, Nimba County, that a simple assessment matrix should be drawn from the PAPD results framework.
According to her, the current macroeconomic outlook of the country indicates that the attainment of the planned targets of the PAPD is unrealistic, owing to the negative impact of the COVID-19 pandemic; and hence a technical review of the PAPD result matrix is necessary.
"There is a lot to be learned from the COVID-19 pandemic, especially about rethinking our economic model to make it less dependent on external economies and, therefore, we need to be more resilient to external shocks," said Minister Brunson.
The government's quest for structural reform and inclusive growth, according to her, will remain unachievable if decisive actions to make these fundamental shifts are put into place.
Notwithstanding, she nudged stakeholders to keep "sharp focus" on the PAPD by ensuring that expectations are managed so that the country does not slide back in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
"You will agree with me that our ability to counter such crisis and adapt will require changes in our development agenda," she stressed.
The COVID-19 outbreak, according to Minister Brunson, has greatly affected domestic and global activities, including domestic and international resource mobilization and, as such, the only way government can achieve some of its targets is to reposition its plans.
"The reposition plan, I hope, will put us on the path of economic recovery, focused on scaling up private investment that can create jobs, sustain livelihoods and widen the tax base for social welfare, increase net export and strengthen markets for the informal sector," Brunson said.
The Deputy MFDP Minister, however, lauded the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), UNICEF, UNECA, NDC and all donor institutions for their support in helping government achieve its objectives in many areas.
In 2018, the Government of Liberia under the leadership of Dr. George Manneh Weah launched the PAPD, a development plan that came out of its Pro-Poor policy direction which is aligned with the Sustainable Development Goals-2023 (SDGs-2023) and the African Agenda-2063
The PAPD was developed to redeem the nation from setbacks occasioned by the 14-year civil crisis, the twin shocks of the Ebola Virus Disease in 2014 and the global economic downturn which affected the prices of commodities as well as lessons learnt from the implementation of several short and medium-term plans from 2006 to 2017.
The focus, during the development of the PAPD, was to, among other things, maintain macroeconomic stability, infrastructural development and provide a business-friendly environment to stimulate private productive investment and create more and better-quality jobs that are important for sustaining the peace and enhancing economic growth.
At that time, economic growth was 3.2 percent and was projected to rise at 5.8 percent in 2023.
These projections were based on factors including a potentially robust fiscal and monetary regime, foreign exchange reforms and competitiveness through investments in real growth-enabling sectors.
However, with the onset of COVID-19, domestic and global economic activities, including domestic and international resource mobilization, have been greatly affected, thereby causing a drastic decline in domestic resource mobilization, especially taxes on international trade, goods and services, rental and corporation taxes on account of both global and national lockdowns.
This situation has since impeded the overall achievement of government's major targets as ascribed by the PAPD.