Liberia: ‘Pro-poor Agenda Remains on Course’ – Pres. George Weah
MONROVIA – President George Weah says despite several setbacks caused by the macroeconomic shocks and the crippling effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, his government’s flagship development platform, the Pro Poor Agenda for Prosperity and Development (PAPD) remains the best platform to attain peace, prosperity and national development.
Addressing the PAPD Steering Committee Meeting on Monday at the Ellen Johnson Sirleaf Ministerial Complex, President Weah said over the last three years, “tremendous efforts have been made to meet the expectations of the Liberian people through massive investment in road infrastructure, the expansion of the electricity network in both rural and urban areas, and investment in health and education.”
“The PAPD remains the best expression of our collective ambition to achieve peace, prosperity, and national development and address the critical constraints to growth, such as regional disparity, low human capacity, and the poor distribution of our national wealth,” he said.
Nine months into his presidency on October 27, 2018, the President and his cabinet launched the PAPD in Nimba County’s bustling commercial city of Ganta. There, the President, flanked by top government officials and party’s faithful, unveiled his administration’s development agenda which runs from 2018 to 2023.
He and his officials pledged that the PAPD would be a framework for inclusion, more equitable distribution of the national wealth, and a rights-based approach to national development.
According to the administration, the plan is aligned with the African Union Agenda 2063 and the global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as well as the vision of ECOWAS.
The implementation of the framework of the PAPD requires a National Steering Committee, which is the highest level of the PAPD governance and coordination structure, chaired by the President and also includes leaders of the other two branches of the Government – the Legislature and the Judiciary – and the development Partners.
The President, addressing the Committee members said it was important to come together to take stock of what they have achieved collectively over the last three to four years of the PAPD and face the challenges of the future together.
In his speech, the President recounted that the development of the PAPD was a broad based consultative process that included all stakeholders including agencies of the government, development partners, the UN systems, civil sdociety organizations and the private sector.
“The aim of the PAPD is to place Liberia on a higher trajectory of inclusive economic growth, secure peace and democracy, reduce poverty, solve infrastructure constraints in roads, electricity, port and telecommunications; improve agriculture, transform governance, improve the business climate and provide the means for private sector led growth.”
Forced To Revise and Recalibrate
Within one year of its launch, the President said his government was compelled to revise and recalibrate the ambition of the PAPD due to the macroeconomic shocks that began in 2018 which gravely affected the PAPD, and followed by the COVID-19 pandemic which affected international trade and brought leading economies to their knees.
He said: “Despite these revisions, the PAPD remains on course and has been able to achieve a lot, while still dealing with numerous challenges. In the course of these recent difficulties, we moved swiftly as a Government to prioritize public expenditure and aggressively grow domestic revenue.
Over the last three years, he trumpeted that his Government has made tremendous efforts to meet the expectations of the Liberian people through massive investment in road infrastructure, the expansion of the electricity network in both rural and urban areas, and investment in health and education.
In health, he noted his government has provided new health facilities and address challenges to the quality of care. In education, he said: “We are building nearly 100 new schools and have taken steps to bring more Liberians into higher education by abolishing payment of tuition fees at public colleges and universities and have reduced the burden on parents by having Government pay the West African examination fees for 12th graders.”
Meanwhile, these achievements, as outlined by President Weah, is in stark contradiction of NAYMOTE’s President Meter Project report released in January 2022. In the report, NAYMOTE said: “The findings of this report suggest that, after exactly four years in power, the Weah-led administration is yet to deliver on the majority of the promises it made to get elected and those made after being elected. In order to make some gains on its manifesto and other promises, the government must do the following: develop a result-based communication system that engages citizens in an open and transparent manner; reduce the high recurrent cost of running the government in order to save more resources for social services and capital projects and develop a comprehensive monitoring and evaluation system to track and report on progress and challenges in implementing government promises in the PAPD.”