Liberia’s Finance Minister Tweah Calls on Multilateral Institutions To Assist Fragile States

Minister Tweah

Liberia’s Minister of Finance Samuel Tweah has called on multilateral institutions to start thinking about ways to assist fragile states after the COVD -19 pandemic.

He made the call when he served as one of panelists   that  was screamed   via Zoom platform on  the topic:  “Conflict and The Pandemic: Tackling COVID 19 in Fragile Settings”  The event was organized by the World Bank.

“The economic challenges we face today are COVID induced. They are not part of the normal business economic circle. The work we started before COVID-19 will slow down. There is a natural slowdown and   secondary pressure on the economy.”

He continued; “COVID induced economic weaknesses with aggregate African debt vulnerability.   As minister of Finance, this is the biggest headache I am dealing with here. Liberia’s moderate debt is stressed. But we have a huge stuck pile of concession loans   in the last 12 years and that is eating up substantial space.  So, the space to expand and get concessional loans are now limited. Coming out of COVID to make that big jump, is going to be difficult.”

He said, it has been difficult for fragile countries, which Liberia is a part; have not been able to structure their deficits. “We have not been able to domesticate the resources of production historically. This COVID needs a paradigm shift.”

With this shock the pandemic has brought on fragile states, he thinks it was about time for the world bank to start  and other multilateral institutions to start thinking about ways to help them with  some level of debt relief program; which will help jump start the  economies. Once this is done, he thinks it will avoid problems in the future.

“The conversation around debt forgiveness is important. I am not going to say a new HIPIC-(Heavy indebted counties) rounds. But some kind of smart thing coming out of COVID, knowing the difficult situation that fragile countries going to be dealing with, it has to be the order of the day. I think we are bringing that conversation to the World Bank, I hope we need to press that.”

The current debt of many fragile countries is unknown, but global economists say it  is huge and may not be able to  service them  soon in the absence of some interventions.

According to  him,   the Liberian government is working with the  World Bank  local office.  “We are working with the bank here so that   creating way, we can look at the full spectrum of the country’s debt. We can start financing to really have impact.”

His message to fragile states are to strengthen the health system so as to avoid or minimize any future health threat that may occur.  “We need to strengthen the health system not just worry about the emergency. We are learning from EBOLA, that the focus on emergency can come at the cost and we do not want to repeat that mistake.”  Mark Lowcock, Under Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, United Nations, Madam Nancy Lindborg, President and CEO, United States Institute of Peace, Axel van Trotsenburg, World Bank Managing Director of Operations and  Madam  Lamis Al-Iryani,  Head, Monitoring and Evaluation, Social Fund for Development, Yemen.


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About Cholo Brooks 14941 Articles
Joel Cholo Brooks is a Liberian journalist who previously worked for several international news outlets including the BBC African Service. He is the CEO of the Global News Network which publishes two local weeklies, The Star and The GNN-Liberia Newspapers. He is a member of the Press Union Of Liberia (PUL) since 1986, and several other international organizations of journalists, and is currently contributing to the South Africa Broadcasting Corporation as Liberia Correspondent.