The Minister of Finance, Amara M. Konneh, recently disclosed that electricity and road construction are essential tools for economic growth and development. He added that in the absence of essentials like electricity and roads, the economy will be working at half time in view of the high cost of electricity which necessitates the putting off of generators to save fuel and the dilapidated road conditions that hampers mobility.
The Finance Minister who also doubles as Minister of Planning and Economic Affairs made the remarks during the regular press briefing of the Ministry of Information, culture Affairs and Tourism (MICAT) yesterday when he stressed the importance of a Euro 50 million (about US$65 million) loan agreement that he and Lands, Mines and Energy minister have signed on behalf of Liberia with the European Investment Bank at the Finance Ministry yesterday.
The Finance Ministry boss gave a detailed picture of the direction of the Liberian economy since President Sirleaf came to leadership. He indicated that a nation that sets a clear agenda moves faster than those without, noting that Liberia has a unique situation in that it was founded by a Non-Governmental organization (NGO) without the normal process of agitating for independence.
Liberia's history is unique, some of which are pleasing while others are not; thus it is necessary to look at all these factors in crafting a development agenda. He said in crafting the agenda for transformation the framers took into consideration the terrible conditions of the roads, the lack of electricity, students still using arm-chairs the lack of internet facilities in the class-rooms, a need for investments in security, land ownership challenges, lack of safe drinking water, obsolete International airport and port facilities etc.
Indeed as the Minister repeated said, the Liberian economy is not moving 24 hours a day as required. We need cheap and affordable electricity. The furniture maker, the video operator, Mattress factory, beer factory, cement factory and bigger companies like China Union, Sime Darby, Firestone and several others need electricity at a cheap rate to reduce costs.
What is equally worth noting about Minister Konneh's presentation included the emphasis that despite the many challenges, the way in which the economic house has been put in order is bearing fruits. Works on the US$200 million rehabilitation of the Mount Coffee Hydro plant is well underway, as donor support is guaranteed. Liberia's signing of the Euro 50 million grant accord yesterday is one of the signs, road maintenance and construction is on course,
What is interesting also is that as promised by the President, Liberia is on target for the completion of Mount coffee by December 25th, 2013 and road pavement between Monrovia to Harper is expected to be completed in 5 years time, electricity all over Liberia is earmarked for 5 to 10 years, the number of ships coming to Liberia have doubled, Roberts International airport is being constructed to Class A standards.
We applaud the Ellen Johnson Sirleaf government for the shift in the nation's development priority. Instead of gasoline, rice, imported furniture etc, the US$672 million mid-term budget prioritizes to roads, electricity, youth and female empowerment and agriculture and mining. There are increasing signs that revenue to be generated from the petrol and gas sector alone can cater to any of Liberia's development needs when commercial market production begins in 5 to 7 years time.
Liberians can now breath relief for a brighter future, as for the first time in many years, the vulnerable employed such as petty traders can now have access to loan facilities through the Liberia business Association. The nationwide County Community development fund, the Liberia Development Alliance, and the Youth Entrepreneurship Program (YEP) are all catering for youth job creation in Liberia with a view to alleviate poverty.