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Shame Beyond Bearing

When the emotional comfort of the policies, decisions and moves of the governance system hit rock bottom and saddled with multiple huge public outcry and demands to call spade a spade, and shunning selective justice coupled with critical external scrutiny of performance and failure to divorce the shielding of cronies most wanted to face the wrath of discrepancies in the administration and management of public money they have presided over; pathetically reflect the truest  transformation of emotional turbulence hinged on shame beyond bearing.

The latest report from the International Monetary Fund’s Article IV Mission to Liberia has painted a rather miserable outlook for Liberia’s economic future. “Liberia’s economic situation is challenging, and strong policy actions will be required to maintain as favorable an outlook as anticipated at this time.

In its report, the team reported that Macroeconomic stability has proved elusive despite improved revenue collection in the first half of FY2019, while the fiscal stance has loosened significantly.

“Without Central Bank borrowing, financing a sufficient level of public service provision will require policies to prioritize and improve the composition of expenditure, enhance its efficiency, and expand the resource envelope”, a local daily quoted the report.

“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 report noted.

The team reported that discussion with the authorities centered on the policies required to address the current situation and promote strong noninflationary growth over the medium term and 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 refrains from borrowing from the Central Bank,” the team noted.

“The mission notes the need for significant action to improve the business climate and provide the enabling environment required for private sector-led growth. Removing administrative constraints on imports and prices to boost the level of competition, while ensuring quality and safety standards, should be prioritized.

Liberia should step up efforts to strengthen governance and anti-corruption efforts as envisaged in the government’s pro-poor agenda, as it would create an environment conducive to private sector-led inclusive growth.”

Moreover, Finance Minister Samuel D.Tweah answering questions from a 38-page financial document assured Senate plenary that the intervention of President George M.Weah, through the infusion of a US$25 million stimulus package, has helped to thwart what was gradually becoming a looming financial crisis, following the alarming depreciation of the local currency.

Tweah said, however, that the transaction, unlike others during the past government, was done exclusively outside the banking sector, and assured that the Central Ban of Liberia (CBL), which was responsible for the process, has documents with the names, telephone numbers, and emails of all those who benefited.

Tweah again disclosed that of the US$25 million, US$17.1 million was used to mop- up L$2.3 billion from the market and stated further that the US$25 million was not intended to remain sustainable but a quick action intervention, which has helped to keep the exchange rate stable for some time.

But disappointingly, the Kroll report stresses that there was no documentations available to authenticate such expression amidst profound discovery of massive discrepancies in that direction and above all, the investigative team of Kroll was not provided such documents when requested for from the bank (CBL) despite claim of being responsible as stated to the Senate by Finance Minister Tweah.

And so there appears a looming shame beyond bearing and someone must answer to the WHY.

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