(LINA) – The Minister of Information, Cultural Affairs and Tourism (MICAT), Lenn Eugene Nagbe, has reassured Liberians that the government is exerting all efforts to ensure that the current economic situation is addressed.
“We do have an economic problem, the economy is under stress and we are almost at the point of recession.
“We are not there yet, our rate if inflation is very high and all of these things have reached a point where salaries for civil servants have been delayed for couple of months,” the government spokesperson noted.
However, during a local radio talk show ion Thursday, Minister Nagbe stated that the government is working with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to enter an IMF support program that will help address some of the challenges the economy is faced with.
“The government has not hidden the fact that this is a tough situation but we have a problem that we are dealing with. We are taking the right steps to fix the problems that we have,” the MICAT boss said.
Minister Nagbe indicated that it is only Liberians and the Government of Liberia that can develop Liberia but pointed out that it has to be done in consonance with the development partners of the country.
According to Nagbe, the IMF support program is expected to be reviewed by the IMF Board of Directors on December 9, adding that the revision will subsequently allow Liberia to successfully enter the program.
“We are at the point now where the Board of Directors at the IMF will make a decision on the 9th of December about whether Liberia will be granted the privilege working with the government in this formal manner,” Nagbe cited.
The MICAT boss indicated that the program is aligned with the National Agenda of the country which is the Pro-Poor Agenda for Prosperity and Development (PAPD).
Nagbe observed that the withdrawal of the UN mission from Liberia negatively contributed to the current state of the economy, stating: “UNMIL contributed US$300 million to our economy annually during their stay in Liberia.”
He also highlighted the loss of Direct Budget support from some of the nation’s partners because of their decision to switch from grant based to concessional loans arrangement.
Nagbe stressed that one of the austerity measures the government is instituting to remedy the situation is a salary cut for Presidential appointees who are earning far above the regular civil servants.
“In 2017, I was a Minister and my salary was around US$8,000.00 every month but now I make a little over US$4,000.00 which constitutes around 46-47%cut because we recognize the fact that we have an economic situation that needs to be addressed,” Nagbe disclosed.
He added that those who are taking the hardest hit are the Presidential appointees, revealing that “Deputy Ministers have taken 45% cut in salaries, and they have taken 100% cut in other amenities; like they don’t get gas anymore, they don’t get phone cards.”
The MICAT boss asserted that it is not because the government is reckless, emphasizing that it is because the administration has realized that there is an economic situation in the country that needs to be remedial.
Also, Nagbe said President George Manneh Weah has cut his own salary, benefits, and foreign travels aimed at finding a solution to the economic problem of the country, lamenting that everything has been politicized in Liberia to an extent that these positive steps are not taken into consideration.
Meanwhile, Minister Nagbe assured government employees that salaries for the months of October and November will be paid before the year comes to an end.
“Maybe by the end of Christmas, the government will owe one month for all civil servants but at least for October and November they will be paid,” he stressed.
Currently, the October pay has been processed, some employees have already taken pay for October, he said, adding that no civil servant on the government’s payroll has been owed for more than two months.
“With all the politicization of the salary issues, the Liberia Revenue Authority and the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning are working hard to collect money so that people can be paid,” Nagbe said.