The Nascent Liberian Miracle
WASHINGTON, DC – In late 2003, Liberia began to emerge from two decades of brutal military government and civil war that had left the country with no functioning public services, spawned large-scale theft of timber and diamonds, and generated massive debts to foreign creditors. Now, under the leadership of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Liberia has reached a historic milestone: a comprehensive debt-reduction package that writes off more than 90% of its foreign debt and opens up new opportunities to rebuild the country.
Liberia joins 22 other sub-Saharan countries that have received comprehensive debt relief over the past decade. It is also one of a handful of countries that have achieved significant results in recovering from the deep damage of prolonged conflict by rebuilding government and establishing the rule of law.
I began that quest for comprehensive debt relief in early 2006 while serving as Liberia’s Finance Minister, representing Johnson Sirleaf’s new government. As Director of the International Monetary Fund’s African Department, I witnessed the historic “completion point” of the process in Washington, DC, alongside my colleagues from the World Bank.