Pres. Sirleaf Says Economic Gains ‘Significant’
By Prince Nagbe
MONROVIA, Jan. 28 (LINA) - President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has said that her administration has made significant advances in the economic growth and development of the country over the last eight years.
Delivering her ninth annual State of the Nation address to the 53rd National Legislature at the Capitol Building on Monday, the Liberian leader said the government has made marked progress in economic revitalization and restoration of basic social services.
President Sirleaf said economic revitalization is important for Liberians because a country recovering from a low economic base, where 90 percent of productive capacity had been destroyed, making it arguably the greatest decrease in economic output recorded in any
country since World War II.
The Liberian leader said though the country's growth and potential has always been challenged by chronic deficits in critical infrastructure, and a largely undiversified economy dependent mainly upon traditional export products such as iron ore, rubber and timber, which are exposed
to global volatility, Liberia's economy still remains resilient.
According to President Sirleaf, the annual growth registered from 2006 to 2013 is 8 percent, making Liberia the third highest in the ECOWAS region and well above the Sub-Sahara Africa average of 2.5 percent.
The Liberian leader said her administration will prioritize electricity and roads, which according to her are the two binding constraints to economic growth and private sector investment, having
conducted an economic constraints analysis in collaboration with the Millennium Challenge Corporation.
According to the Liberia News Agency, President Sirleaf said there has been significant increase in the national budget since the 2006/2007 fiscal year, thereby allowing service provision and investment to expand.
She said there was a significant increase in tax revenue, non-tax revenue and grant by an average of 29 percent each year, and that contingent revenue on-budget borrowing has risen from US$148 million in 2006-2007 to US$559 million in 2013 fiscal year.
President Sirleaf told the 53rd Legislature that a vigorous tax enforcement plan has been finalized by the Ministry of Finance and will be implemented by a Special Task Force to make the Revenue Authority operational at a faster pace.
She has, therefore, called on public officials, prominent individuals and businesses to check their records and quickly pay the fair share of their taxes or face discomfort and embarrassment from the task force.
The President disclosed that Government's expenditure for 2012/2013 has risen to US$593 million or 22 percent over previous years, and an annual average growth of 28 percent over the past seven years, with wages and salaries, goods and services continuously dominating the budget, while capital expenditure in public sector investment plan increased from US$51.9 million in previous years to US$138 million in 2012/2013.
She said the Government has up- to- date contracted loans from external sources in the amount of US$757 million, while domestic debt is in the tune of US$40 million.