…President Weah Launches $40M LIFT-Project
MONROVIA-When President George M. Weah was being inaugurated at the crowded Samuel K. Doe Sports Complex in Paynesville, he said, “We cannot remain spectators in our own economy. My government will prioritize the interests of Liberian-owned businesses and offer programs to help them become more competitive and offer services that international investors seek as partners.”
Since the Liberian Leader said those words, years, and days have turned into weeks, weeks into months and months into years before Liberians started to see what the Liberian leader met when he said those words.
Years have passed By Mark N. Mengonfia- firstname.lastname@example.org
It gives me great pleasure to be here today to officially launch the Liberia Investment, Finance, and Trade Project (LIFT-P), being implemented by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, with support from the World Bank.
I am made to understand that, when completed, this Project will further improve the trade and business environment in Liberia, which is crucial for job creation and the economic empowerment of the Liberian people.
On behalf of the Government and People of Liberia, and in my own name, I would like to express profound gratitude to the World Bank Group for the approval of the amount of $40 million United States dollars to support and implement the LIFT-P Project.
I would also like to thank all those who have worked so hard in getting us here today, particularly Hon. Mawine G. Diggs, the Minister of Commerce and Industry, and Chairperson of the National Project Steering Committee for the LIFT Project.
Thank you, Minister Diggs, and your able team, as well as all of those connected to this process, for ensuring that all the eligibility requirements for the project were met.
Today, we once again demonstrate my Government’s commitment to making groundbreaking reforms across all sectors of our economy, as we continue to receive the necessary support from donors and development partners. I believe that this support continues to be given more frequently, and in greater magnitudes, because my Administration continues to exhibit fiscal discipline and financial prudence in the implementation of these projects.
DISTINGUISHED LADIES AND GENTLEMEN:
The Liberia Investment, Finance and Trade Project is intended to improve the investment climate, expand access to finance, and increase the efficiency of trade in Liberia. However, even more importantly, this Project incorporates features that seek to address gaps that have been identified between men and women with respect to their participation in economic activities in the Liberian economy.
It will monitor the extent to which activities are contributing towards closing gender gaps by measuring, among other things: the number of women-led Small and Medium Enterprises (SME’s) who will get trained under the program; the number of women-led SMEs that will get a loan through this project; and the number of National Single Window users who are women.
To assist with the facilitation of private investment, trade, and access to finance, I am told that the Project will support activities organized under three complementary components: Investment Climate and Trade; SME Access to Markets and Finance, and Digital Financial Services infrastructure. There will also be a fourth component for project management, monitoring, and evaluation, as well as contingency emergency response.
With the procurement of a new digital platform for the Liberia Business Registry under this Project, I am also informed that the challenges faced with the registration of businesses and renewal of certificates will soon be over, as new businesses will now be able to be registered within a matter of hours, something which currently takes weeks to complete. This should considerably enhance the ease-of-doing-business index for Liberia.
I am further informed that the LIFT-P Project will support the National Single Window and the provision of a National Electronic Payment Switch. These new trading platforms will allow you to transact your business online, even if you are in your village or out of this country, and make instant payments between banks.
DISTINGUISHED LADIES AND GENTLEMEN:
When we promised the Liberian people that they will not be mere spectators within their own economy, we knew that we would have to create the enabling environment to enable them to contribute meaningfully and participate fully in every aspect of business, trade, and commerce. I am grateful that my promise becomes easier to fulfill through projects such as this.
My Government is fully committed to the implementation of this project, and I trust that its success will inspire the World Bank to commit more resources in support of our national development plan, the Pro-Poor Agenda for Prosperity and Development.
We will continue to provide the necessary political support, so that we create an environment that is so conducive for investment, trade, and commerce, that a clear message can be sent to the World that Liberia is open for exciting and profitable business opportunities for Liberians and foreigners alike.