Dean Rohrer

The Nascent Liberian Miracle

In late 2003, Liberia began to emerge from two decades of brutal military government and civil war that had stripped the country bare and generated massive foreign debts. Now, Liberia has reached a historic milestone: a comprehensive debt-reduction package that opens up new opportunities to rebuild the country.

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.

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