Monrovia, Liberia – For the fifth time since his inauguration in 2018, the President of the Republic, Dr. George Manneh Weah, once again faced the Nation to report on the performance of his administration for 2021 and declared the country safe, peaceful, and strong.
Article 58 of the Constitution of Liberia, mandates that the President, like those before him too, on the fourth working Monday in January of each year, present the Legislative Program of the Administration for the ensuing session, and report on the State of the Republic, covering the economic condition of the Nation, including expenditure and income.
The Liberian Chief Executive and Commander-In-Chief used nearly one-and-half-hour speech delivered at the Rotunda of the Joint Chambers of the Capitol Building on Monday, January 24, 2022, to exhaustively report on progress and plans of his government’s legislative agenda, economic revitalization, social services, foreign relations and peace and reconciliation amongst others.
When he had gone at length in the report, the Liberian Leader declared: “Based on the report that I have just made to you, I can state categorically, and with confidence, that the State of our Economy is Stable and Growing, and that the State of the Nation is Peaceful and Strong!
Revenue and Expenditure
As the Liberian Constitution places upon the President responsibility to report on the State of the Republic, with specific mention of public expenditure and national income, he accordingly divulged that revenue collection for 2021, including grants, was $646 million, compared to $653.9 in 2020.
Of this amount, the President said, domestic taxes were $577 million while external resources received from our Development Partners was $68 million, with the last fiscal year recording the highest level of domestic revenue performance since the end of the civil conflict.
On the other hand, he noted, total cash expenditure for the same period under review was $668 million of which 44 percent was spent on compensation of Government employees, 25 percent on goods and services, 17 percent on domestic and international debt, and 5 percent on Public Sector Investment.
The President also told the nation about the fiscal period transition from July 1 to June 3 to January 1 to December 31, noting that Liberia was the only country in the ECOWAS sub-region that was running the previous fiscal year, which was out of alignment with the rest of the countries in the region.
“Mr. Speaker I am proud to report that the change has finally taken place, and the year 2022 will be the first fiscal year that is also a calendar year for the national budget and other instruments and processes of the Government,” the Chief Executive told the nation.
“To facilitate this transition, we had to enact a special transitional budget which you approved at $347.9 million US dollars in the year under review. December 31, 2021, concluded this transitional budget, which was funded exclusively by domestic revenue, and the draft national budget is presently before the House or Senate for consideration, having been passed by the House of Representatives.
”President Weah also reported on the 2022 budget which was passed by the House at $785.6 million, which is the largest national budget in the history of Liberia.
He said Government has increased capital spending in the proposed Fiscal Year 2022 budget and in response to the need for more development, “we are putting more resources to solving the many development challenges confronting our people in various sectors.
”Foreign Relations With regards to our foreign policy, President Weah reported that Liberia remains positively engaged with its partners and friends at the bilateral and multilateral levels, as a responsible member of the international community, and with a keen focus on national interest.
He said Government’s Foreign Policy Objectives remain the maintenance of national security; the preservation of the territorial integrity and sovereignty of the country; the promotion of peace and harmony based on the principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of other states; and the promotion of unity in the international community based on the values of liberal democracy.
Dr. Weah said in 2021, his administration played significant roles in promoting Liberia’s Foreign Policy Objectives and strengthening our foreign relations at the bilateral and multilateral levels, which brought productive results and affirmed our leadership in the comity of nations.
“Consistent with our international obligations,” he said, “we fully participated in the activities of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the African Union (AU), and the United Nations (UN); either virtually or in-person.
”The President stressed that at the level of ECOWAS, the focus was on crisis areas in the sub-region, namely: the security and political situations in the Republic of Mali and the Republic of Guinea.
“In Mali, we continue to support the peacekeeping operations with the presence of a contingent of the Armed Forces of Liberia embedded with the United Nations Mission (MINUSMA),” President Weah emphasized.
“Also, we are working with our colleagues to resolve the constitutional impasse in the Republic of Mali to restore that country to constitutional democracy and order through the holding of free, fair, and transparent elections in the soonest possible time.
”Fight Against CorruptionIn a related development, the President used his 2022 Annual Message to reiterate his administration’s unwavering commitment to fighting corruption.
He said: “We must continue to show strong gains in the fight against corruption, money laundering, and illicit financial flows. The Government is strengthening and empowering the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC) to prevent fraud and acts of corruption before they occur.
”Dr. Weah recalled that the House of Representatives has already passed the new LACC Act giving a broader mandate to the LACC to fight corruption, expressing the hope that, in the supreme interest of the Liberian People, the Senate will soon concur.
He further recalled that the House has also passed the new anti-money-laundering legislation, which empowers the Financial Intelligence Unit to fight illicit financial flows, such as money laundering, and drug and terrorist financing.
“We will spare no effort to bring Liberia within international compliance in the fight against corruption and illicit financial flows,” the President asserted.He reported that his administration is at the point where the audit of the consolidated revenue account will be current up to any fiscal year.
“In 2018 my Administration inherited an audit backlog dating back to the 2015/2016 and 2016/2017 national budgets,” President noted.
“We have worked overtime to conduct these audits and make current the audit of the consolidated revenue account.
”According to him, with the completion of the Fiscal Year 2019/2020 audit, “we are making good progress” as the General Auditing Commission (GAC) is presently conducting an independent payroll audit funded by the World Bank, and is developing a new framework to ensure better audits and financial reporting that is consistent with the Public Financial Management Law.No Political Prison.
To further accentuate his achievement of a peaceful, strong, and stable nation, President Weah also reported on the strong tolerance of his administration to dissent and adherence to democratic values by declaring that there was no political prisoner during the reporting year.
“We note with deep satisfaction that Liberia, under our leadership, has no political prisoners,” the President said amid thunderous applause from the audience.
He continued: “Our Government has done its best to respect and protect the rights of our citizens and residents and to strengthen constitutional democracy, accountability, transparency, and the rule of law under a strong and independent judiciary.
“We are also confident that Liberia will remain a pillar of democracy on the African continent, and wish to avail our willingness to remain a part of the global coalition in defense of democracy in the world.
”He expressed delight and honor for an invitation from the President of the United States, Joseph R. Biden, Jr., allowing him to be amongst 111 invited countries, including 17 from Africa to participate in the Biden Summit for Democracy, which was held in December 2021.
“In Liberia’s Pledge at the Biden Summit for Democracy, we reiterated our government’s unflinching commitment and support to defending democracy against authoritarianism; fighting corruption, and promoting human rights and good governance,” the Liberian Head of State further stated.
“We also made it clear that it is only when democracy is strengthened and defended against dictatorship and authoritarianism; fighting corruption, and promoting human rights that the global political system, including that of Liberia, can be conducive to sustain peace, adhere to the rule of law, uphold freedom of speech, stability, and development.”