Minister Tweah Assures IMF of Credible Budget …

Liberia’s Finance and Development Planning Minister Hon. Samuel D. Tweah Jr., has assured delegation from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), that the Government of Liberia is committed to credible budget execution during fiscal year 2019/2020.

According to a release, Minister Tweah was speaking on Monday June 24, 2019, when the IMF mission led by Mika Saito concluded two weeks of discussions on possible financial support under the Extended Credit Facility.

The Liberia Finance Minister informed the IMF that President Dr. George Manneh Weah government is committed to fighting fraud and abuse of resources.

He said the government has agreed to establish a ‘Corruption Court.’ He told the mission of government commitment in terms of meeting benchmark, which will ensure its readiness for business.

The country’s fiscal minister said that government is making significant effort to pay domestic vendors in the amount of 35M (Thirty-five million United States dollars).

Speaking on the wage-bill, he said, what government was doing is payroll harmonization, and not a wage cut as it has been speculated. “This is a revolutionary exercise, what we are doing is wage harmonization, not wage cut.

This is about paying people across government with same position with the same salary” Minister Tweah stressed.

The government wage-bill in 2018/2019 fiscal year was 330M (Three hundred thirty million); but with the harmonization, the new wage-bill for 2019/2020 will now be 297M (Two hundred ninety-seven million).

He added that government has put in place strong revenue measures which will ensure 22M in new revenue, (Twenty-two Million United States dollars), during the new budget year.

According to him, macroeconomic stability could only be achieved when the fiscal and monetary institutions of government work together.

The IMF mission through Mika Saito, Deputy Division Chief, Western II Division African Department; also speaking, said during the visit, they observed that series of external shocks including key commodity prices, the lingering effects of Ebola, and the rapid depreciation of the exchange rate that followed the economic situation facing Liberia has proved challenging.

The mission stated that Macroeconomic stabilization, particularly a lowering of inflation, should be an immediate priority; while public sector is essential to supporting the reform agenda.

The mission discussion also included a package of growth –enhancing structural reforms to strengthen public financial management and improve the business climate.

The mission noted the importance of rebuilding foreign exchange reserves to improve resilience to external shocks, which is one of the key objectives of fund supported programs, while also highlighting the importance of allowing the exchange rate to remain flexible and improving the transparency of CBL’s foreign exchange operations.

However, the mission pointed out that securing enough resources to fund efficient government expenditure will require both additional revenue measures and reforms to reallocate expenditure, while reduction in the size of the public sector wage bill is necessary.

Growth, according to the mission has slowed, while inflation has accelerated and stands at 23 percent. The mission also held discussions with President Dr. George Manneh Weah, Speaker of the House of Representatives Dr. Bhofal Chambers, and President Pro Tempore of the Senate Albert Chie, Finance Minister Samuel D. Tweah, Central Bank Governor Nathaniel R. Patray and Commerce Minister.

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