President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has hailed the announcement Tuesday, June 29, by the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund that Liberia has reached completion of the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries program as a “new dawn of freedom and independence” for the country.
In an address to the nation broadcast across radio and television, the President said:
“Today is a great day for Liberia. Most of our debt is gone. A huge burden had been lifted and the world can trust Liberia again. As we look forward to our 163rd year of independence, we can proudly celebrate a new dawn of freedom and independence.”
According to an Executive Mansion release, the President thanked Liberia’s partners abroad, including the World Bank and IMF, for their support. She also hailed the great efforts of the Ministries of Finance and Planning and Economic Affairs and the Central Bank of Liberia in making much needed financial reforms.
But she saved the greatest praise for the resilient Liberian people, saying:
“This is a day for us, as Liberians, to celebrate. For the first time in decades we can rejoice and say that we have broken the decades-old cycle of financial mismanagement. We have all earned this day.”
She added: “Like a man who has toted a heavy load for many miles, we can now cast it off, straighten our backs and lift our eyes to the horizon where a better day is breaking – a day when we will stand on our own, unsupported, and proud.”
In her statement, the Liberian leader noted the progress made since 2006, when her Government inherited a US$4.9 billion debt racked up since the 1980 coup d’état and through the 14-year civil war. She also urged caution, saying:
“The peace we have enjoyed led the world’s leading financial institutions to declare us trustworthy, and it is you, Liberians, who will benefit.”
The Liberian leader was, however, quick to caution that the benefits from the debt waiver will not come overnight, adding, “but they will come if we remain steadfast as a nation and a people. You made those sacrifices by not being able to get some of the basic services to which you were entitled, but we can now reap the rewards.” CLICK HERE TO SEE HIPC COMPLETION FACT SHEET
Editor’s Note: GOL release.