Liberty Party’s Plan to Create Jobs, Promote Full Employment, and Improve Livelihoods
Understanding the Unemployment Situation in Liberia
After years of the Sirleaf Administration and enormous flow of foreign aid into
the country, the majority of Liberians continue to face unprecedented hardships. Each
day is a desperate struggle for survival: sixty-four percent of Liberians (about 2 out of
every 3) still cannot afford to feed themselves and their families adequately; 48% of
Liberians (almost half) live in extreme poverty.
Unemployment remains at 82% since 2008 (Figure 1); meaning that the UP government’s policies
have failed to create jobs and have had little or no impact on the unemployment situation.
In the face of this, the public workforce was reduced by 10,000 jobs–from an estimated
48,000 in 2008 to 38,000 through the “downsizing” and “rightsizing” exercise. Figure
1 below, using data taken from the Central Bank of Liberia’s Annual Reports, shows the
relatively steady 82% unemployment rate from 2008-2010, which, sadly still persists in our 2016 economy.
Figure 2 below shows that more than half (53%) of those jobs were in the
agriculture and forestry sector (27%) and with the government (26%). Another 19%
came from social and community services provided by churches, NGOs, and other nonprofit
organizations. General merchandise and trade provided 5% but is largely underreported
because the informal sector activities are not taken into account. The rest (23%)
were service industries that support the major job providers.
Liberty Party’s job-creation plan seeks to broaden opportunities to bring more people into the formal sector or to enable them to
create their own employment. Over the long term, leveraging our location in the region and emerging relationships with Asian nations, coupled with reduction in regulatory burdens, will spur investments from both foreign investors and the Diaspora. The major components of a Liberty Party Government’s job-creation policy are therefore as follows:
A) Expand the Public Sector (short to medium term measures to create 215,000 employment opportunities)
1) Invest in labor intensive infrastructure rehabilitation and development in
partnership with the private sector and NGOs. Goal: 100,000 jobs over 3 years
(30,000 targeted to former combatants drawn into non-lethal AFL engineering
2) Establish a Student Service Corp to draw high school graduates and college
students into community service. Goal: 3,000 service/teaching/mentoring-type
opportunities over 3 years
3) Establish youth-empowerment programs in partnership with the private sector and
NGO’s, by providing cost sharing contribution from GOL and other partners, to
provide non-formal education for out-of-school youth, teach basic literacy,
numeracy, life and business skills, and promote public-private partnerships in
workforce development. Goal: 100,000 opportunities with stipends over 3 years.
4) Expand the education sector with more formal and informal teaching and training
opportunities for school-age children, adult learners, and vocation and technical
education. Goal: 12,000 new teaching opportunities.
5) Leverage public procurement for goods and services to give priority to Liberian owned
businesses, build the domestic entrepreneurial class, and attract talented
Liberians in the Diaspora. Goal: US$57.5 million per year in public
procurement/supply opportunities that can help to capitalize Liberian business for
re-investment in the economy.
6) Engage commercial banks with the view of establishing a fund for extending
business loans to Liberians, assisting Liberians to play a more meaningful role in
the retail sector of our economy. This fund will be guaranteed by the GOL and
supervised by a small business institute (SBI) to be established by a Liberty Party
Government. Goal: empower Liberians to play leading role in the country’s
7) Change the resident/work Permit Laws, granting residency and the authority to
work to business owners for longer periods than are provided for under our
current law. Depending on the nature and amount of the investment, non-
Liberians will be granted resident/work permits for periods ranging between five
to twenty years. And those non-Liberians who have lived in Liberia for more than
twenty years, they will be grandfathered into the longer resident/work permit
period, without regard to the nature and amount of investment. Goal: encourage
substantial investments in the non-extractive industries thus creating additional
employment opportunities for Liberians.
B) Private Sector Development and Expansion (medium to long-term measures that will
put the private sector in the lead in job creation)
1) Reform the banking system and expand insurance industry
i) Reduce the legal bottlenecks to foreclosure actions on non-performing loans;
introducing new legal instruments and, in partnership with the banking
institutions, information sharing mechanism on creditworthiness of potential
borrowers. Goal: reduce the risk to bank lending and the ratio of nonperforming
loans to total loans from 10.3% to 5% in five years;
ii) Reduce the excess liquidity of the banking system by offering partial
guarantees to encourage more commercial agriculture loans across the board.
iii) Establish a microfinance regulatory and supervisory framework, introducing
microfinance institutions (MFI) to receive limited deposit-taking in rural areas
supported with deposit guarantees (up to L$25,000.00 per depositor). This
will, (a) reduce the geographical distance between small and potential savers,
especially those in the informal sector, and “banks”; (b) eliminate the
bureaucracy involved in transacting business with banks, and (c) increase
confidence that their deposits are secured. MFIs, as an outreach approach,
will ensure that more small savings come into the formal business environment.
Goal: increase access to banking and financial services throughout the country,
ensuring that the national economy under a Liberty Party Government will benefit
from the accumulation of capital which banks can lend to productive commercial
ventures, thereby creating more employment opportunities for Liberians.
iv) Introduce community-based micro-insurance schemes to reduce the risks of
adverse health, accident, and death to those in the informal sector in exchange
for regular premium payments matched to the current family out of pocket
expenses on health care and burial. Currently, 92% of our workforce has no
insurance coverage. Goal: increase the coverage and access to insurance and
reduce the risks for illness and death to families so they can spend more time
engaged in productive economic activities.
2) Re-capitalize the Agriculture and Cooperative Development Bank with significant
private interest and control to finance commercial ventures in the agriculture
sector with public guarantees. Goal: raise the portfolio of new loans going to the
agriculture sector from 4% of total bank loans to at least 40% in 5 years; giving
priority to rice, rubber, logs/sawnwood, oil palm and agro-processing ventures.
3) Re-capitalize the National Housing and Savings Bank with significant private
interest and control to finance low and medium-cost, and commercial housing,
ventures. Goal: 25,000 new housing units financed over 5 years.
4) Stimulate broad growth in the economy through reduction in the regulatory
burden (business registration, import/export document processing, pre-payment of
withholding tax); open service delivery opportunities and market competition in
areas currently dominated by public corporations (energy, IT, communications,
urban water and sanitation, produce buying and exports), and engage all major
existing concessionaires in the iron ore, timber, agricultural and rubber industries
to provide full government support in ensuring that their projects are fully
operational by the end of 2013.
Goal: reduce government’s overall presence in
the economy and ratio of revenue to GDP from 38% to 25% over six years.
5) Aggressively lead bilateral trade negotiations to open new export markets while
seeking to develop the manufacturing sector of our economy. A major
shortcoming in managing our natural resources has been a failure to make them
more valuable to our country by producing semi-finished or finished products.
Another short-coming is the absence of set-asides and preferential treatment for
subcontracting of Liberian-owned businesses/domestic suppliers, in the
negotiation of mineral development and concession agreements, to build a more
sustainable link to the local economy. This means that we derive less value by
selling our natural resources for cheap, repurchase the finished products at higher
prices, and fail to integrate other Liberian industries with these extractive
Goal: maximize the benefits that accrue to the country from the exploitation of our natural
resources; and cut overall trade deficit by one-half from US$517 million in 2010 to US$258
million in 6 years. This will concurrently reduce the exchange rate between the L$ and the $US
and the inflationary pressures contributing to high prices.
That the issue of jobs, and of other opportunities for individual progress, is critical to the
peace and stability of our country cannot be in dispute. Also, it has to be common
knowledge by now that a dispropotionate reliance on the extractive industries for job
creation is a failed policy from the past that cannot continue. The new jobs-creation
vision for our country has to be one that promotes a diversified economy, empower the
Liberian enteupreneur, and add value to our raw materials. This is the direction of our
job-creation plan. Liberty Party’s job-creation plan is designed with that outlook and will
take our country in that direction.
We estimate that the plan as outlined in this paper will create approximately 215,000
employment opportunities in the formal sector over the next six years, bringing relief to
Liberians while we expand and diversify the economy over the medium and long term.
Many of these opportunities do not require donor support; though we will seek their
collaboration. These policy measures can take effect almost immediately. Some will
require assessments and negotiations; which a Liberty Party Government will do