The Government of Liberia, with support from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) announces a three-day dialogue on the current state of the economy.
Addressing a news conference last Wednesday, August 28, in Monrovia the chairman of the National Economic Dialogue, former Foreign Minister Dr. Toga Gayewea McIntosh observes that current debates in the country begin with and end with talks about the structural macroeconomic challenges facing Liberia, adding; these challenges have not only dampened the Liberian economy, but have also posed considerable risks to the very survival of the Liberian people and the nation.
The Liberian economist and development planner says impact of these challenges has led to slow growth of the economy; rising prices for basic commodities; a steady rise in the volume of Liberia’s balance of payments deficits; an unending depreciation of the Liberian currency; and mounting pressures on closing the gap between revenue and expenditure in the national budget.
The economy under the Weah administration has performed dismally characterized by hyperinflation, high exchange rate and sky-rocketing prices.
Dr. McIntosh recalls that over eight weeks ago, President George Weah called for a national dialogue on the economy in an effort to deal with the associated challenges.
He says in response to this call, the UNDP based on request from government, is leading a process towards organization of the dialogue, in collaboration with development partners.“To date, an Independent National Dialogue Secretariat has been established by Government and partners with the mandate to organize the National Economic Dialogue.”
Dr. McIntosh continues the objective of the National Economic Dialogue (NED) is to strengthen transparent, participatory and accountable economic governance, including (a) stimulating a broad-based national conversation on the state and fate of the Liberian economy; and (b) collectively find ways that would situate Liberia on a path of rapid economic recovery and growth.
The pending Dialogue is scheduled for September. “We all know that three days are not sufficient to adequately deal with the structural development challenges that are starring in our faces day after day, but the Dialogue is a start. The forthcoming National Economic Dialogue is expected to bring together at least 250 participants from all parts of Liberia. They will be drawn from the private sector, political parties, labor unions, academia, students, women and youth groups, religious community, traditional leaders, physically-challenged and disadvantaged groups, media, civil society organizations, and our development partners. Discussions shall be focused around four pressing thematic areas.”
He names public finance mobilization and management, investment promotion and private sector growth, youth unemployment and skills development, as well as peace and reconciliation for sustained economic growth.
“At the close of the three-day event, we intend to reach a National Consensus on a set of feasible short and medium-term policy measures, strategies, programs and a time-bound roadmap aimed at enhancing: (a) speedy economic recovery; (b) sustained inclusive economic growth in Liberia; and (c) peace and reconciliation”, Dr. McIntosh said.