MONROVIA, March 26 (LINA) - Finance Minister Amara Konneh has given updates on the state of the Liberian economy, outlining progress made so far as well as challenges facing the Government in improving the national economy.
Speaking at a press conference at the Ministry of Information on Tuesday in Monrovia, Minister Konneh said Liberia’s real Gross Domestic Product (GDP) recorded 8.1 percent estimated growth for fiscal year 2013, attributing it largely to increased activities in the mining sector.
Minister Konneh said this growth in Liberia’s GDP is expected to continue in the medium-term, especially with the export of iron ore by China Union and the increase of production by Arcelor Mittal.
According to Minister Konneh, the increase of export in the extractive sector is a result of Liberia’s stable macro economy, which attracts foreign direct investment that generates foreign exchange and creates jobs.
The Finance Ministry boss said the Government has projected a boost in tax revenue collection by about US$400 million per annum, through an increase in the mining sector which it has achieved, by removing infrastructural and bureaucratic bottlenecks that hindered concessionaires from rolling out their operations.
According to the Liberia News Agency, Minister Konneh said this will increase employment of Liberians by about 80,000 to 90,000 in the next five to ten years.
Minister Konneh, however, said the economy of Liberia partly experienced some difficulties in the second quarter of this fiscal year, as the Liberian dollar depreciated against the US dollar.
This, he said, was however quickly brought to a halt through the effort of the Central Bank of Liberia (CBL).
He said this decline in the value of the country’s currency is a testament of the need to increase the country's exports and diversify the economy, in a way that it will enable the country to attract more foreign exchange.
He added: “If this is not done, we will remain dependent on large aid and security-related inflows which are likely to fall over time and be subject to global demand and prices.
Minister Konneh has, meanwhile, disclosed that the service sector which is another driving force of economic growth is expected to be hit as UNMIL draws down its presence in Liberia, and as NGO activities are reaching lower levels.
According to him, this will cause a slowdown in domestic demand for services such as food, entertainment and domestic support, amongst others.