Liberia: Weah Wants Citizens Own National Development “Bible”

Liberia’s President Dr. George Manneh Weah says Liberians should take ownership of the just-launched national development plan, the Pro-Poor Agenda for Prosperity and Development (PAPD).

President Weah, who officially launched the government’s five-year national development roadmap in Ganta City, Nimba County on Saturday, October 27, 2018, urged Liberians to buy into it and take ownership so that the country can once again be the “Sweet Land of Liberty we all deserve by God’s command.”

The Pro-Poor Agenda for Prosperity and Development seeks to move at least one million impoverished and less fortunate Liberians from the state of poverty to prosperity. It replaces the Agenda for Transformation (AFT), a five-year national development plan heralded by the Unity Party-led government from 2012 to 2017.

The launching ceremony was financially supported by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP).

The Liberian leader, at the well-attended ceremony graced by senior and junior government officials, international development partners, local county officials, and scores of ordinary Liberians, noted that the PAPD sets out a clearly defined government vision and pathway to prosperity it seeks for the country and people.

He explained that the PAPD is a framework for inclusion and will ensure a more equitable distribution of the country’s wealth and the right approach to national development.

The plan is also designed to give power to the people, promote economic diversification; sustainable peace; encourage good governance; and construct quality infrastructures, including roads, affordable energy, and air and sea ports.

“The plan will in the next five years also ensure that the government invests in telecommunications, Information Communication Technology (ICT), housing, water, sanitation, and most importantly in the areas of health and education as well as ending widespread vulnerability for majority of our people,” the Liberian leader emphasized.

President Weah assured Liberians and international development partners of the government’s preparedness to unite and reconcile the people, educate and develop the youth and promote basic human rights of the citizens in order to build a harmonious society based on the goal of economic empowerment, especially for the underprivileged.

He added that his government will also place emphasis on national security in order to engender a peaceful and serene society that will afford Liberians to move and live freely and without fear.  The Chief Executive then admonished Liberians to promote the plan and make sure it works, stressing: “I pledge to you today my government and I fullest commitment to purposefully achieve these goals.”

He, however, pointed out that the effectiveness of the national development plan will be determined by the collective capacity of all Liberians to sustainably, efficiently and effectively implement it by exploring every avenue available to them.

The Pro-Poor Agenda for Prosperity and Development contains four pillars: Power to the people; Economy and jobs; Sustaining the peace; and Governance and transparency with the objectives of building a more capable and trusted nation and providing greater income security to an additional one million Liberians, and reducing poverty by 23 percent.

Under the pillar “Power to the People”, the government intends to empower Liberians with the tools to gain control of their lives through a more equitable provision of opportunities in education, health, youth development, and social protection.

Under the Economy pillar, the government plans to provide economic stability and to create jobs through effective resource mobilization and prudent management of economic inclusion, while the Sustenance of the Peace pillar will ensure that the government promotes a cohesive society for sustainable development.

Under pillar four, which focuses on Good Governance and Transparency, the national leadership will ensure that the government promotes an inclusive and accountable public sector for shared prosperity and sustainable development.

Finance Minster Samuel Tweah says under the Pro-poor Agenda for Prosperity and Development (PAPD), the government will not build roads for political reasons, but will set out corresponding economic activities in parts of the country to be affected by paved roads.

The Weah-led government vows to construct at least 800 kilometers of road around the country up to June 2023 – the final year of the implementation of the PAPD.

Minister Tweah, who gave an overview of the national development agenda during its launch at the weekend in Ganta, Nimba County, made it clear that the ambitious road program of the government will be linked to economic growth prospects or special economic zones so that such activities, at the various ends of these roads, can pay for some of the concessional loans that financed them.

The government is working with the private sector and its development partners to operationalize special economic sectors that can provide jobs for mainly the youthful population, says Minster Tweah.

He adds that the PAPD is going to transform “difficult” social situations by which it is challenged.

Some of those challenges Tweah names are “a huge faction of Liberians who were not entering school at the age of three; at primary and secondary education levels, students are not reading at ‘grade level’ (a sixth grader reads at second grade level); a low number of 35,000 who sat the West African placement test would pass both Maths and English; and in health, most children under five would die of preventable diseases amid an increasing number of mothers dying while giving birth.”

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