Liberia - Future trends

Though the long civil war that so devastated Liberia's economy ended in 1996 and economic growth has increased since that time, Liberia still faces real obstacles to economic stability and recovery. With the Liberia-backed Revolutionary United Front (RUF) continuing to destabilize Sierra Leone in 2001, international donors have remained reluctant to extend aid to Liberia, and UN sanctions are a possibility. Border confrontations can be expected to continue to hinder development. This ongoing situation makes for negligible economic progress in Liberia, and the misery of most people there will continue. In 2001, it was estimated that 80 percent of the people do not have enough income to meet the barest minimum requirements for food, shelter, and clothing.

Economically, President Taylor has demanded more control over strategic commodities, there have been calls for an embargo on timber exports, and oil exploration permits for foreign companies have been withheld. These measures, while increasing the power of the government over the economy, are not calculated to improve the conditions of ordinary people. The government has announced plans to privatize the main public utilities, which, when implemented, should introduce improvements in electricity, water, and telecommunication services. However, it will be many years before economic stability returns to Liberia, and prosperity remains a distant dream.

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