Economist Wants International Assistance for Liberia’s Economic Woes

MONROVIA, Montserrado – Lester Z. Tenny, an adjunct professor of economics at the University of Liberia’s graduate school, says the country needs the international community to help it address current economic woes.

Tenny, who spoke to The Bush Chicken in an exclusive interview, said the Coalition for Democratic Change government inherited a broken economy.

“The monthly wage of the government in terms of civil servants’ salaries and operational cost is around US$26 million,” he said. “The government is faced with a serious financial problem.”

Outlining some of the multiple reasons which has led the government the being broke, the Liberian economist said the credit facility to countries by the International Monetary Fund ended in November, noting “lending of money will begin in June 2018.” Credit facility is a tool used by the IMF to provide financial support to countries to prevent crises.

Tenny said the government does not have the money to pay civil servants for the next 5 to 6 months, although he expressed hope that the government could find a way to generate such money.

He said all of these factors, coupled with the uncertainly that was caused by the elections, created the liquidity problems the government is currently facing.

“These leakages, coupled with the massive capital flight, create liquidity problems which the CDC government has inherited,” Tenny said.

He explained that Weah’s recent visit to France, coupled with the bi-literal agreement the government and African Development Bank entered into for a US$10 million budgetary support, are all ventures intended to buttress the government’s effort in meeting its obligation to civil servants.

“It is only with the assistance of the international community that the government will be able to meet its monthly obligation to the Liberian people,” Tenny said.

When asked what he foresees if the financial problem is not addressed by the international community, Tenny said, “I do would not want to believe or anticipate that the international community will leave or abandon us in these times of need.”

He emphasized that the government’s focus is now on stabilizing the economy.

“We do not want to waste our time looking for who did what because it will divert our focus,” he said. “We need to conduct due process and establish the fact by carrying out forensic audit on the CBL and after we have ascertained what went wrong, then we will take action as a government.”

Tenny said the audits are important because the government cannot immediately take any corrective actions in the absence of evidence.

“It will appear that we are witch hunting,” he said. “We do not have the time to distract ourselves from the current economic issue in the country.”

Tenny called on Liberians to revisit their expectations: “Those who are expecting immediate fulfillment of the government’s campaign promises should manage it.”

Featured photo by Zeze Ballah

Zeze Ballah

Zeze made his journalism debut as a high school reporter at the LAMCO Area School System. In 2016 and 2017, the Press Union of Liberia awarded Zeze with the Photojournalist of the Year award. Zeze was also the union's 2017 Health Reporter of the Year. He is a Health Journalism Fellow with Internews.

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