Press Release: Statement at the Conclusion of an IMF Staff Mission to Liberia

May 2, 2008

Press Release No. 08/98

Robert Powell, IMF Mission Chief for Liberia, made the following statement today in Monrovia:

"An IMF mission visited Monrovia during April 24-May 2, 2008 to discuss Liberia's recent economic performance and its response to the current challenging global environment.

"Over the past week we have had wide-ranging and positive discussions with Minister of Finance Sayeh, Central Bank Governor Mills Jones, members of the legislature, including Senate President Pro-Tempore Nyenabo and Speaker of the House Tyler, as well as senior officials and representatives of civil society.

"We share the Liberian authorities' view that recovery will continue in 2008, with growth of about 8.8 percent, thanks to strong management of the economy. Inflation, however, is projected to rise to about 13 percent because of higher rice and petroleum import prices, and strong domestic demand.

"The mission supports the government's decision to help the poor by temporarily suspending taxes on rice imports, and its plans to fast-track local commercial production of rice.

"We discussed the government's recently published Poverty Reduction Strategy (PRS). The PRS lays out an ambitious, well-tailored program of reforms to achieve higher and more inclusive growth, and progress in poverty reduction, over the next three years. The mission argued that to help reach these goals, the authorities should further refine the costing of PRS measures and that donors should align their commitment with the PRS priorities at an early stage. The Fund supports the PRS through the Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility.

"The government and the mission agreed on the importance of ensuring that the budget for fiscal 2008/09 should also be in line with PRS priorities and—in light of the significant one-off revenues expected next year—that proposed current expenditures should be sustainable over the medium term.

"Our discussions with legislators highlighted the extensive legislative agenda expected under the PRS, and the need for early consideration of key legislation necessary to maintain the momentum of reforms and to reach the completion point under the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) initiative—a key step in securing further debt relief for Liberia."


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