At east 75 stakeholders representing government, development partners and the private sector have held the first discussion in Monrovia aimed at crafting a 15-year development agenda for the country.
Held under the auspices of the Ministry of Planning & Economic Affairs, participants at the June 11 forum analyzed major development glitches of Liberia and how these holdups could be overwhelmed to pave the way for a brighter development future.
It brought together various stakeholders, including local and international experts working in the fields of education, agriculture, natural resources, health care, rule of law, and other essential fields who shared ideas to support the government in its efforts to plan for the future.
Planning Minister Amara Konneh described the one-day as being successful, but was just the beginning of encouraging a wider participation from the Liberian people and development partners.
Among others the discussion called for the rewriting or altering portion of the country’s history that promotes division, restructuring governance, developing new national educational curriculum, drawing up new economic program for the country and changing of some national symbols to reflect inclusiveness, equality, unity and national identity.
Government officials and those from the World Bank and Harvard University made several presentations including developing a medium and long term economic strategy; economic growth through energy growth, through agriculture, through governance and financial management, among others.
The national visioning plan, which will be taken to all parts of the country beginning this October, aims to craft Liberia’s future development goals to be achieved by 2027.
It intends to help Liberians embark on a sustainable economic and social development path, social-political and governance planning.
The proposed 15-year national visioning exercise, the first of its kind, further aims to transform Liberia into a Sub-Saharan middle-income country by the year 2027, according to Minister Konneh.
He said Liberia, after six years of peace and stability can not continue to attribute the lack of development of the country to the devastating 14-year war which chapter closed in 2003.
‘We now have peace and stability…We have enjoyed peace for about six years…we can’t continue to blame the lack of development of our country on the war in the next few years to come. Therefore, we have to come up with a national visioning agenda as our development roadmap,” he said in his opening statement.
In a closing remark, Minister Konneh lauded participants and challenged all to work to make the dream a success.
He said Liberia has resources, but how to turn disparate resources into a powerful instrument that effects lasting change and to develop a vision; a strategy for the country remains a challenge.
The Planning Minister said the 2027 vision will be solidly grounded on factual evidence and rigorous analysis. It will be a convergence of a top-down approach and a bottom up approach in a truly participatory process, noting that last Friday’s kickoff event was aimed at involving some of the main stakeholders from the start.
The plan will include a wide-ranging and coordinated implementation strategy that takes into account current challenges, but at the same time makes no excuses, he said.
“This process we have initiated here today,” Minister Konneh indicated, “is aimed at charting the road that will take Liberia to middle-income country status in the shortest possible time. It will serve as our guiding tool so we can get the country where we want it to be.”
He told stakeholders that effort needs to be targeted and planned for maximum impacts using hard knowledge and expertise, “so we do not end up with activity without achievement, or with less achievement than intended.”
Currently, the Liberian government is implementing an ambitious 3-year plan, the Poverty Reduction Strategy (PRS), to raise the country out of poverty.
With only one more year left for the implementation, many of the PRS deliverables have not been met (reasons attributed to human and financial resource constraints), though some tangible achievements have been recorded.
The PRS became the center piece of the government’s efforts to move the country out of an emergency and humanitarian assistance mode to a development mode, after 14 years of war.
Strong government commitment to, and significant support from development partners in support of, PRS implementation have helped achieve peace and security, a stable macroeconomic environment, and good progress in instituting key reforms, all of which have contributed to strong economic growth over the past several years, says the Planning Ministry, which monitors the PRS implementation.