Statement by IMF First Deputy Managing Director John Lipsky at the Conclusion of His Visit to Liberia

Press Release No. 10/39
February 15, 2010

Mr. John Lipsky, First Deputy Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), visited Monrovia during February 14-16, 2010. Mr. Lipsky met with President Johnson-Sirleaf and her economic team to discuss the opportunities and challenges facing Liberia. He exchanged views on economic developments and prospects for Liberia with members of the Legislature, representatives of the private sector, representatives of Liberia’s development partners, and students and faculty at the University of Liberia..

Mr. Lipsky issued the following statement in Monrovia today at the conclusion of his visit:

“This is my first visit to Liberia in my capacity of First Deputy Managing Director of the IMF, and indeed the first visit by Fund management for over twenty years. I wish to thank President Johnson-Sirleaf, Minister of Finance Ngafuan, Central Bank of Liberia (CBL) Executive Governor Mills Jones, and other senior government officials for their hospitality and the quality of our discussions. I also had productive exchanges with members of the Legislature and the private sector on how best to address the economic challenges facing Liberia and improve the living conditions of Liberians. I have seen firsthand the scale of the task ahead to rebuild infrastructure and basic services, including a school in Paynesville, and listened to many as to what needs to be done.

“In my meeting with President Johnson-Sirleaf, we had a productive discussion on Liberia’s economic challenges, against the backdrop of the global economic crisis. We agreed that the crisis has adversely affected Liberia, resulting in a drop in exports and investment as well as some job losses. However, with an improving external environment, economic growth is expected to pick up in 2010 and inflation to moderate. The medium-term economic outlook remains positive, particularly in the mining and commercial agriculture sectors.

“I welcomed the progress that the government has made in implementing structural reforms, notably through the enactment of the Public Financial Management (PFM) Act that underpins the effective working of the government. I also welcomed the work being done in Liberia under the auspices of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative. Liberia is the first country in Africa to have its reports validated by the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative Board. The authorities have made significant progress in implementing the triggers to achieve the completion point under the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries and Multilateral Debt Relief Initiatives (HIPC/MDRI). With continued strong performance, Liberia could reach the completion point later in 2010. This will provide much-needed space to tackle the challenges facing the country.

“Nevertheless, after this stabilization and debt reduction phase, the authorities will need to focus on promoting public investment and growth, and continue rebuilding institutions and infrastructure. This will be key to reducing poverty. The Fund welcomes its role as a partner with Liberia in these efforts, alongside other development partners. The international community will need to continue supporting Liberia. The Fund has made exceptional efforts to provide technical assistance and financial resources to aid Liberia’s economic recovery since 2005 and we have drawn useful lessons from this experience that may benefit other countries in future. The IMF will soon open a new Technical Assistance Center in Accra, Ghana, that will provide the support to implement effectively those efforts.

“I would like to thank the authorities for their hospitality. We will continue to work closely with them and support their economic reforms and efforts to foster deeper economic development and reduce poverty in Liberia. I greatly support the President’s determination to strengthen economic governance and confront corruption. I wish her every success in her efforts to move forward to a prosperous and stable Liberia.”



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