Press Release Summary = The Government of Liberia has a new mission
Press Release Body = Press Release - 18th October 2006 Liberian Renaissance
The recent visit by the Liberian Vice President, Joseph Nyumay Boakai and his team, including Dr J Chris Toe, Minister of Agriculture and John Woods, Director of the Forestry Development Authority signifies the positive changes in the governance of Africa's oldest republic. The team is reviewing an agreement between Nardina, a company investing in the oil palm sector in Liberia and the previous transitional government. The new government, which won a huge mandate in a freely contested election at the end of 2005, is evaluating the agreement in the light of its reformist policies, in particular to ensure transparency and that the national interest is paramount.
The new government has set itself an impressive agenda and made significant gains in the 10 months it has been running the country, with numerous efforts directed at social and economic development issues. After a brutal war that devastated the people and infrastructure the President, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and her team have put into place an anti-corruption strategy, cultivated a free press and are reforming the army and police to ensure that security, which is pivotal in the reconstruction process, is entrusted in the hands of qualified professionals with clean human rights records. Rehabilitation of the infrastructure is an uphill task that the government is addressing with significant success. Electricity and water supplies have been restored in many parts of the capital, Monrovia, and the aim is that by early next year the whole city will be covered as will other towns in the country. Motorists and pedestrians, who had not seen functioning traffic lights in the last fifteen years, are most impressed that the new fully operational lights are bringing order on the streets of the capital.
Economic revitalisation is a major thrust of the government. Rebuilding the physical infrastructure such as roads and ports and making appropriate use of the country's vast potential in the agriculture, forestry, fisheries and mining sectors are the government's priorities. Agriculture where the bulk of the population make their living and where improvements will have the greatest impact on food security is top of the government's agenda. A strategic framework for agriculture has been implemented whose cornerstones include: . building capacity by restructuring institutions and developing human resources; . supporting the transition from war and relief to peace and recovery by reintegrating ex-combatants and creating a better climate for the private and public sectors; . food security by ensuring availability and access for all sections of the population.
Recent successes include the government taking over the Guthrie plantation which had been expropriated by a gang of ex combatants. The government has agreed a forestry law and is developing a tracking mechanism which has seen a partial lifting of UN sanctions on Liberia's Timber exports, sanctions are likely to be fully lifted by December. It is also implementing the Kimberley process in the mining industry to ensure transparency in that sector. Joseph N Boakai, the Vice-President said "our government will pursue policies that will make full use of the human and natural resources of our country".
After the economic meltdown under the Doe regime and ravages of the war years, the Liberian government is keen to attract investments in the reconstruction process. Ideal conditions for growing rubber, cocoa, oil palm, cashew nuts and various other tropical products makes Liberia an attractive country for investors. There are substantial reserves of gold, diamond and iron ore and the government will shortly be awarding blocks to oil companies for exploration. The forestry and fishing sectors also have huge potential and investors are welcome. In a bid to create a conducive and transparent business climate, the government is reviewing the investment code and implementing the GEMAP programme involving a team of international experts who are looking at taxation and other policies and practices that impact on investment. The government's reformist agenda means that while it will continue to develop a conducive climate for domestic and foreign investors, the interests of the people of Liberia are paramount. Consequently, it is reviewing agreements made with the previous transitional government to ensure that they are fair, transparent and the terms are not unusually onerous to the Liberian people.
The group that held talks with Nardina is part of Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf's formidable team of ministers and senior officials. Joseph N Boakai, the Vice President is a seasoned Executive having managed the largest commodity marketing company in Liberia, LPMC, and stints as government Minister, Ambassador and as Head of a consulting group. His trouble shooting and managerial skills have been used by private companies, successive Liberian governments and international organisations like the World Bank. Dr J Chris Toe, the Minister of Agriculture, who holds a PhD in Agricultural Economics, left a very successful career as President of a large university in America, Strayer, with a student population of 28,000 and an annual income of US$178 millions. Dr Toe had presided over one of the fastest growing universities in the USA in terms of student population and income. This is the strength of the new government, men and women who have been tried and tested in their fields in Liberia, other parts of Africa, Europe and America. Dr Toe, whose current income is less than a tenth of what he made in the US, said "I could have continued as President of Strayer University with all the benefits associated with that institution but I wanted to give something back to my country which needed me more".
Basic Facts Location West Africa Climate/fauna Tropical rainforest Population 3.3 million Land area 111,370 Sq km GDI per head US$130 Main Exports Iron Ore, Diamonds, Gold, Rubber, Coffee, Cocoa Currency Liberian Dollar
Contact Details: Honourable Joseph Boakai, Vice President, Government of Liberia (GOL) J Chris Toe, Minister of Agriculture, GOL: tel: 00 231 6478077, email: email@example.com Boima Rogers: By Design Events & PR, 313 Wimborne Road, Winton BH9 2AB tel: 01202 515851, email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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