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Beware of the Writings on the Wall, President Weah – FrontPageAfrica

MARKETERS AND THOSE languishing at the backside of Liberia’s financial ladder are making their voices heard. In emotional appearances in a KMTV report final week, many at the Duala Market expressed frustrations at the rising overseas change fee, the shutdown of three-day calls and the problems they’re encountering being pressured to buy items in US dollars.

ONE MARKETER LAMENTED: “I buy fish cartons at LD15 thousand dollars, when I sell some times, I get LD350, some days I get LD400 profit. So, the goods prices are too high and now they are making it worse to say no three days. So, we are appealing to the government to step in and help reduce prices.”

THE MARKETERS’ LAMENT are available the aftermath of final week’s World Financial institution Spring meeting where the Liberian delegation reportedly acquired a rude awakening and what one member of the delegation acknowledged to FrontPageAfrica, was “a very rough meeting at the World Bank”.

THE COUNTRY’S DELEGATION finally week’s spring meeting sought the financial institution’s backing for the implementation of its ‘Pro-poor Agenda for Prosperity and Development’ (PADP), the authorities’s nationwide improvement agenda for the next few years of its term in office. 

FINANCE & ECONOMIC Planning Minister Samuel Tweah, throughout discussions had points resembling investment in personal sector, domestic revenue mobilization, digital financial system and social security internet, which are in line of the PAPD, placed before the donor partners for consideration. 

DESPITE THE GOVERNMENT pleading with these worldwide partners help, authorities at the Finance Ministry disclosed: “The World Bank had already earmarked US$106 for three key sectors, including education — US$50M, water and sewer — US$30M, and Public Financial Management — US$26M.” Nevertheless, the Liberian Authorities must develop a logical framework and a rationalized time sure matrix for the utilization of this money. 

THE LAMENT ALSO COMES as the Worldwide Financial Fund seems reluctant to offer Liberia a positive response to its request for its financing packages which supplies member nations the respiration room, they need to right stability of payments issues. 

FRONTPAGEAFRICA HAS LEARNED that an IMF mission is heading to Liberia in Might or June to evaluate Liberia’s macroeconomic position, mainly stability of funds and monetary place. The delegation will reportedly demand a evaluate all GoL’s fiscal and monetary data after which they may propose applicable prescriptions for negations. The board should approve before a remaining choice is made on Liberia’s request.

AN UNFAVORABLE REQUEST might forestall Liberia from being eligible for fast loans and quick fixes, a choice which might signal the start of a relatively troublesome street forward for the George Weah-led authorities. 

THIS IS WHERE the coming months might prove pivotal for the government directors. How effective can President Weah’s staff put their egos aside for the good of Liberia?

LIBERIA HAD REQUESTED an Extended Credit Facility (ECF), however one which if granted will come with conditionality just like ones the authorities has been reluctant to comply with up to now. 

ACCORDING TO THE IMF, “its Extended Credit Facility (ECF) provides financial assistance to countries with protracted balance of payments problems. The ECF was created under the Poverty Reduction and Growth Trust (PRGT) as part of a broader reform to make the Fund’s financial support more flexible and better tailored to the diverse needs of low-income countries (LICs), including in times of crisis.”  Most specialists agree that the present Liberian economic crisis is deep and really challenging that requires the type of belt-tightening and austerity measures the Weah administration might find troublesome to implement.  

ACCORDING TO SOURCES, the IMF, as part of its circumstances, is requiring the government of Liberia to put in a hiring freeze and think about decreasing the country’s punishing public wage bill, which is now devouring more than 72 % of recurrent expenditure.  There are reportedly more than 90 thousand persons on the public payroll, an increase of 20,000 from the previous Ellen Johnson Sirleaf administration.  Liberian officers have been additionally warned to desist from utilizing scarce overseas change reserves to help the worth of the country’s home foreign money.  These two circumstances alone if carried out will come with political consequences that a government not sure of its standing with supporters might have difficulties in accepting.  Some economists consider the equilibrium price of the Liberian greenback to the US dollar is 200+ considering current sluggish or now progress and volatility in costs of the country’s two main commodity exports.  Although iron costs rose final week to round 95 dollars, the quality of Liberian ore, low FE content and high in phosphates can’t fetch high costs on worldwide commodity exchanges and actually are deeply discounted in transactions between Liberian producers and their end users.  

UNDER THE LEADERSHIP of President Ellen Johnson, Liberia in 2010 acquired a new lease on life after more than a decade of conflict when the World Financial institution’s Worldwide Improvement Affiliation (IDA), the half of the Bank that provides interest-free credits and grants to the poorest nations, and the Worldwide Monetary Fund (IMF) declared that Liberia had certified for full debt aid after assembly the required benchmarks, placing Liberia at the “completion point” beneath the Closely Indebted Poor Nations (HIPC) Initiative and leading to complete debt aid of US$four.6 billion.

SOURCES TELL FPA that Liberia has been informed that the IMF needs more time to guage its request and is not assured that the government has introduced a program that may persuade the financial body that it’s capable of paying again. Liberia is competing towards 200 member-countries who foyer yearly for the credit score.

THE IMF FALLOUT signifies that administrators of the government’s financial system have accomplished the opposite of what the IMF delegation really helpful following their meeting to Liberia in March – extra deficit and off-budget spending – and breaking the guidelines of the IMF recreation.

DURING ITS VISIT in March, the IMF delegation reported a difficult economic state of affairs whereas recommending that robust coverage actions can be required to take care of a positive outlook. “Macroeconomic stability has proved elusive despite improved revenue collection in the first half of FY2019, and the fiscal stance has loosened significantly. With accommodative monetary policy meeting fiscal needs, the exchange rate depreciated by 26 percent over the year, and inflation accelerated to 28 percent at end-December. This is detrimental to the living standards of the most vulnerable Liberians who earn and spend primarily in Liberian dollars and threatens the success of the pro-poor agenda. Growth for 2018 is now estimated at 1.2 percent, while the forecast for 2019 on current policies has been revised down to 0.4 percent from 4.7 percent.”

THE DELEGATION ALSO recommended a quantity of methods the authorities might handle the present state of affairs, recommending amongst different issues, selling robust noninflationary progress over the medium term. “The mission noted that the commencement of sales of central bank bills, supplemented by the introduction of the standing deposit and credit facilities in the interbank market, represent major milestones in modernizing the monetary policy framework. With the appropriate preconditions firmly in place, a timely reduction of the rate of inflation to single digits appears possible. Of the necessary preconditions, the most critical is that the Government refrain from borrowing from the central bank.”

THE MISSION WENT on to advocate that the price range for fiscal yr 2020 be based mostly on real looking estimates of the resource envelope. “Giving Ministries and Agencies a reliable estimate of the actual resources that will be available to them is critical to improving the quality of public services, even if this represents less than the amount budgeted in the past.”

ACCORDING TO SOURCES, the IMF is requiring the authorities of Liberia to put in a hiring freeze and think about decreasing the nation’s punishing public wage bill, which is now devouring more than 72 % of recurrent expenditure.  There are reportedly greater than 90 thousand persons on the public payroll, an increase of 20,000 from the earlier Ellen Johnson Sirleaf administration.  Liberian officers have been also warned to desist from utilizing scarce overseas change reserves to help the value of the nation’s domestic foreign money.  These two circumstances alone if carried out will include political consequences that a authorities not sure of its standing with supporters might have difficulties in accepting.  Some economists consider the equilibrium fee of the Liberian dollar to the US dollar is 200+ contemplating current sluggish or now progress and volatility in costs of the country’s two main commodity exports.  Although iron costs rose final week to round 95 dollars, the high quality of Liberian ore, low FE content and high in phosphates can’t fetch high prices on international commodity exchanges and actually are deeply discounted in transactions between Liberian producers and their end customers.  

THE GOVERNMENT IS ALSO dealing with a tall order All this as tens of hundreds of thousands of dollars have been borrowed from the Central Bank of Liberia (CBL) with sluggish or non-payment from the government.  Despite warnings from the IMF of their final Article IV consultation in March, the government continues to spend extra money than it collects. 

CONSULTATIONS BETWEEN LIBERIAN officers and specialists of the World Bank and IMF have been brutally frank. IMF officers reminded Liberian officials about findings in the Article IV Consultations of March eight, 2019, which showed the country’s financial system would expertise a slower than anticipated progress price of 1.2 % in 2018 and disturbingly, the financial system would grow at solely 0.4 % as an alternative of the earlier projected four.7 %.  Liberian officers have been warned in March about the administration’s loosened fiscal stance, whereby the Weah administration was spending greater than it was amassing in revenues. MACROECONOMIC INSTABILITY WAS demonstrated by a 26 % depreciation of the Liberian dollar leading to headline inflation at 28 %.  Despite these dire circumstances outlined in the report, IMF officials expressed disappointment that Liberia had not taken measures to deal with the issues especially when present financial circumstances would undermine the authorities’s own vaunted Pro Poor Agenda by growing poverty. 

LIBERIA CONTINUES TO ENGAGE in off finances spending, and more and more huge quantities of money on presidential and official overseas travels, manifested in the giant delegations to the inauguration of Macky Sall in Senegal, and sarcastically an unusually excessive quantity of officials attending the present World Bank IMF Spring meeting in Washington DC.  Sadly, one of the strongest points raised in the IMF report was a request to Liberian fiscal authorities to refrain from borrowing from the Central Bank of Liberia (CBL).  Sadly, the request was not heeded and authorities continues creating overdraft on its consolidated account at the CBL. 

IN ADDITION TO THE OBVIOUS indicators of a dwindling financial system, echoes and chatters of a deliberate protest scheduled for June the 7th is generating quite a bit of buzz both in and out of Liberia.

THESE GLARING SIGNS ring reminiscence of Liberia’s newer past when rulers and leaders failed miserably to take a cue from their predecessors, resulting in chaos, confusion, coups, civil wars, and flight into exile of its citizens.

LIBERIA HAS COME a great distance and the end of a brutal civil warfare; three successive elections and a political transition should serve as the impetus for the current leadership to work toward sustaining in any respect value.

IGNORING THE CRIES of the individuals is a recipe for disaster and potential conflict which is why it is crucial that President Weah takes the vital steps toward appeasing key stakeholders and reverting the course of Liberia’s political and financial survival.

WHEN A CERTAIN group of Liberians felt disrespected, uncared for and abused on April 14, 1979, they took matters in their own arms with a rice riots still vivid in the reminiscences of many. Organized by the Progressive Alliance of Liberia (PAL), headed by the late political activist Gabriel Baccus Matthews towards the backdrop of a proposed improve in the worth of a 100lb bag of rice from $22 to $26, the protest was followed a yr later, by a bloody coup d’etat staged by 17 non-commissioned officers of the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL) that led to the overthrow of the grand previous True Whig Celebration (TWP) of the then Liberian government.

ON NOVEMBER 7, 2011, the present ruling social gathering, in the opposition at the time, staged an enormous protest towards election outcomes of the presidential elections which led to the dying of no less than one individual.

THE SIGNS ARE APLENTY for the current powers of the day. But if evidences of past transgressions are anything to go by, all shouldn’t be late for the authorities to make adjustments and avoid the pitfalls that led Liberia down a spiral slope of greed, dangerous governance and a recurring state of political and economic uncertainty. 

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