NEW YORK – Today, the United Nations published its annual report on trade and development or foreign direct investments. Again, the data on Liberia is discouraging – showing the country is doing poorly under the current administration. Yet, despite these numbers, a handful of government officials and supporters continue to espouse and mislead President Weah into believing that his administration is one of the ‘best” in the nation’s history.
At the end of 2017, Liberia’s FDI stood at $248 million; under the current administration, foreign investments to Liberia have fallen to 87 million. One could easily argue that the fall is due to a lack of capacity, widespread corruption, or gross incompetence.
During the same period, 2017 to 2020, FDIs to neighboring Sierra Leone increased by 170%, from $129 million to $349 million.
Notwithstanding the “missed opportunities,” as the former Vice President of Liberia, Joseph Boakai described Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf’s administration, the current administration makes Ellen’s staunch critics believe she performed splendidly.
Despite the motivational blindness of a select few supporters of the current administration – the drop in FDIs has little to do with COVID-19 since the fall preceded the novel Corona Virus Disease. Moreover, considering neighboring Sierra Leone has faired far better than Liberia, one could easily argue that the ineffectiveness of the Weah-led government continues to drive the fall.
The data also falls in line with the year-over-year drop in Gross Domestic Product – from 2.5% in 2017 to negative 3.00% in 2020.
In the face of the fall in productivity, foreign direct investments, and the threat of the COVID-19 variant, Liberia’s Ministry of Finance continues to push a speculative argument that the economy is growing at a rate expected to peak at 3.6% by the end of 2021. However, relying solely on the extractive industries, including an $800 million investment by ArcelorMittal, may bring economic relief a little too late. Giving Arcelormittal’s SEC filing, the company will complete its expansion project by the 4th quarter of 2023.
According to UNCTAD (United Nations Conference on Trade and Development) report published on June 21st, investments to Africa in areas of water and sanitation fell by 67% percent. The report also shows significant drops in healthcare, transportation, and energy by 54%, in agriculture by 49%, and in education by 35%.
Without a vibrant financial sector and strong credit ratings by Fitch, Moodys, and D&B, Liberia’s failure to raise funds in the global capital markets hints the country will continue to rely on IMF and World Bank loans and grants. They are essentially making the country a welfare state to supranational organizations.