KLAY–Finance Minister Samuel Tweah has expressed optimism about Liberia’s ability to bounce back from COVID-19, saying, ‘there is more domestic revenue during COVID than pre-covid year.
In an interview with this paper recently, Minister Tweah noted that the Weah led administration was projecting 3.2 percent growth rate this year, subduing the impact of covid 19 on the national economy as was anticipated.
“The revenue impact of COVID has been more subdued than was imagined of in March of last year. When we began covid, we thought we were going to see a near revenue collapse, it did not happen,” he said.
“We thought the economy would have collapsed, but it did not happen,” That suggests strong resilience. We remain optimistic.”
“Actually, domestic revenue is 9% higher in covid year than in pre-covid year. That suggests strong resilience; we are getting more domestic revenue this year than we did in 2019. We are doing big this year in a number of areas, like agriculture.” He did not rule out challenges.
According to him, he had feared the worst when the pandemic struck last year, since Liberia’s economy was already fragile, partly due to the scaling down of some foreign aid flows after the 2014-16 Ebola outbreaks.
In the longer term, government has high hpes for the country’s rubber industry and plans to develop the sugar manufacturing sector also, he said.
According to him, they are working with a number of banks to give lending to business institutions for financial stability. In addition the government was looking at other areas, such as the judiciary to ensure that legal issues from the business sector, which may hinder smooth activities, are looked at speedily. He said, the Chief Justice and the legal arm are looking at them.
He commended Liberia’s international partners for standing with the country.
Currently, External assistance, including International Monetary Fund – I.M.F. debt relief and a $50 million rapid loan, last June, helped the government respond to the health crisis in Liberia.
He said discussions are also ongoing with China about options for debt relief; Minister Tweah did not give further details.
As of the end-2020, Liberia’s debt to China amounted to $54 million out of its total external public debt of around $1.2 billion, according to the IMF, the World Bank associate.