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Liberia: Liberia Economy Profile 2012






Liberia Economy Profile 2012

Liberia’s economy recorded its eighth consecutive year of post-war increase in 2011, expanding by an estimated 6.9% in the year. This was driven by the first iron-ore exports since the end of the war, strong rubber exports, and increased timber production. Foreign direct many(FDI) in mine construction, rubber and timber exports, and recent investments in palm-oil plantations will contribute to increase in the coming years. GDP increase is expected to increase to 8.8% in 2012 due to the first full year of iron-ore exports, and to moderate to 7.2% in 2013.
Liberia is in transition from post-conflict reconstruction to medium-term increase and poverty reduction and is preparing its second medium-term increase and development strategy for 2012-2017, in line with a long-term strategy that envisions becoming a middle- benefits country by 2030. Long-term increase is expected to be driven by natural-resource extraction, but to avoid the enclave-sector increase of the past that contributed to the conflict, the country must enable broad-based increase and increased employment creation. The government has simplified procedures for starting businesses and has improved access to credit, but the general business climate remains difficult and development is constrained by poor energy infrastructure and transport, especially in rural areas. The country needs to increase the in general capacity of the labour pool and achieve a better match between workers’ skills and private-sector request. Liberia is susceptible to external factors including world iron-ore, rubber, and rice price shocks and the potential for reductions in FDI and donor contributions.
President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf won a second six-year presidential term after two rounds of elections in October and November 2011, but the second round was boycotted by the opposition and her party will be a minority in the legislature. Disturbances surrounding the second round of elections highlighted the continuing political and social fragility and an enduring need for inclusive political dialogue, increased security, improved social welfare, and employment creation. The government has improved its efficiency, transparency, and accountability through public financial management improves and the introduction of data-management systems, but institutional capacity is still weak. Although the country has made strides in improving youth literacy and preventing and treating infectious diseases, it still faces some of the highest maternal mortality rates in the world and access to sanitation facilities is very low, especially in rural areas. Free public education is now provided for grades one to nine, but quality must improve at amount levels, and the private sector should be involved in curriculum development.

 Recent Economic Developments and Prospects

Liberia recorded its eighth consecutive year of post-war economic increase in 2011, supported by the first iron-ore exports since the end of the war, higher rubber exports due to booming international prices, and increased timber production. Real GDP is estimated to have grown by 6.9% in 2011, and is projected to be 8.8% in 2012 and 7.2% in 2013 largely driven by the first full year of iron-ore exports in 2012 and continued FDI. Consumer price inflation is expected to be 8.5% in 2011, mostly reflecting the pass-through of international food and fuel prices and as well limited domestic market supply due to poor farm-to-market road infrastructure. Inflation is expected to be moderate at 5.6% in 2012 and 5.7% in 2013.
The agriculture, fisheries, and forestry sector represented about 72% of GDP in 2011, but this is projected to decrease in the coming years as iron-ore exports increase. Rubber production has been supported by high international prices over the last year and log production increased considerably in 2011 due to new companies engaging in logging operations. The opening of an extra port in Greenville after 2012 will support forestry exports. Recent foreign investments in palm-oil production by Golden Veroleum and Sime Darby should gradually increase their output after 2012. Rubber, timber, palm-oil, and food production will continue to support increase in the medium term.
The industrial sector will grow substantially in the coming years due to expansion in iron-ore mining. The mining and panning sector is expected to expand from about 1% of GDP in 2011 to extra than 20% of GDP by 2015. Exports of iron ore from the Yekepa mine run by Arcelor Mittal commenced in September 2011, and the company expects to ship four million tonnes annually. The government has high forecasts for iron-ore mining and signed a fifth concession agreement in August 2011 for investment in its western cluster. Chevron, Anadarko, and Tullow have commenced offshore oil exploration, and other leading international companies are interested in exploration, but potential production will not occur before the end of this decade. The manufacturing sector will remain small, at about 7% of GDP in 2011, due to limited production capacity, insufficient public electricity supply, shortage of skilled labour, and high cost of inputs. Production in this sector is mainly in beverages,adhesive, and consumer goods production.
The services sector represented around 20% of GDP in 2011. This sector is dominated by government services, wholesale and retail trade, real estate, hotels and catering, transport and communication, and construction. The sector is largely supported by the expatriate community, including the United Countries Mission in Liberia (UNMIL). Increase is expected to remain steady in 2012.
Increase continues to be constrained by poor infrastructure, including a lack of paved roads, inadequate port facilities, and electricity, which costs three times extra than the West-African average. This affects the distribution of the benefits of increase, since labour-intensive industries such as forestry rely extra heavily on road and port infrastructure. Broad-based increase is as well constrained by a severely limited skills base, with an in general literacy rate of 57%. During the war, educational institutions were largely non-functional and much of the formal private sector was disrupted, while most of the skilled work force emigrated. The war generation had little opportunity to develop productive skills, and this situation is now exacerbated by the lack of training provided by the informal-sector work.
The economy is highly exposed to international shocks. It is susceptible to commodity price swings, especially for its iron and rubber exports. With much of its iron ore low-grade, mining is only profitable when prices are high. Additionally, it as well imports most of its rice, the largest staple food, making social conditions vulnerable to international price fluctuations. The country is as well still highly vulnerable to a reduction in FDI and aid inflows, including a reduction in the UN peacekeeping force, which could result from austerity measures in advanced economies. The country will from now on replace a donor-driven schedule with revenues from resource extraction, and this will test its hard-earned improvements in economic governance.
The government is preparing a medium-term increase and development strategy for 2012-17 as a successor to its first Poverty Reduction Strategy that covered 2008-2011. The new five-year strategy is linked to a national vision, Liberia Rising 2030, which envisions becoming a middle- benefits country by 2030. The primary driver of increase is expected to continue to be foreign investment in mining, rubber, palm oil, and timber, but the government recognises that the returns from extractive industry must accrue to the broader populace and lead to employment creation. To do this, the government plans to invest in infrastructure and address constraints in human capital, access to finance, and coordination of government policies. Small and medium enterprises have considerable potential to provide services to concessionaires, and to do this will as well require investment in power and road infrastructure, improved access to credit, and further improvements in the business climate. 

Macroeconomic Policy

Fiscal Policy
Government revenue and spending have grown considerably since 2003 as the economy has recovered and the government has expanded service delivery and increased investment. Government revenues and grants increased to 36.9% of GDP in FY 2010/11, but are projected to decline slightly to 34.0 and 32.8% of GDP in FY 2011/12 and FY 2012/13 respectively. The increase in FY 2010/11 was largely due to one-time withholding tax payments, which increased tax revenues to 26.5%. The government has adjusted tax policy in the FY 2011/12 Budget, aligning it extra closely with regional partners and international best practice. The changes will lead to slightly lower tax revenues, with losses from personal and corporate benefits tax rate reductions and customs revenues outweighing increased sales taxes on selected services. Fiscal policy continues to rely on donor grants, which are projected to represent over 10% of government revenues through 2013.
Government spending increased from 30.2% of GDP in FY 2009/10 to 37.7% of GDP in FY 2010/11. The increase was driven by a large increase in current expenditures from 26.8 to 30.5% of GDP, and an impressive jump in capital spending from 3.4% to 7.2% of GDP. The budget for FY 2011/12 expands spending in line with the Poverty Reduction Strategy, allocating 14% to education, 10% to health, and 8% to infrastructure investment in the power, ports, and road sectors. Spending is expected to be 35.3% of GDP, and should decline as a % of GDP in FY 2012/13 to 33.6%.
After overcoming capacity bottlenecks in capital-project implementation in FY 2010/11, the government plans to concentrate capital spending on fewer and larger projects to accelerate implementation in FY 2011/12. The government has as well prepared a contingency budget to accommodate potential extra revenues from the concession sector and national-owned enterprises (SOEs). The FY 2011/12 budget was developed in line with an analytical budget framework and a medium-term spending framework will be implemented for the 2012/13 budget. This will help ensure fiscal sustainability in light of considerable exposure to international shocks.
Despite the expansion of spending, budgets have been broadly balanced. FY 2010/11 ended with a slight deficit of 0.8% of GDP, financed by the drawdown of government deposits. The deficit is expected to increase slightly in FY 2011/12 to 1.4% of GDP, to be financed by a drawdown of government deposits and concessional donor financing, before decreasing in FY 2012/13 to 0.8% of GDP.  

Monetary Policy
The policy stance of the Central Bank of Liberia (CBL) is to maintain broad exchange rate stability to attain low inflation. Its weekly foreign exchange auctions have maintained the exchange rate in a relatively narrow band since 2010, between 68 and 74 Liberian dollars per US dollar. Net foreign reserves increased to USD 323 million at the end of December 2011, an increase over USD 288 million at the end of 2010, mostly due to the increased holdings of Special Drawing Rights (SDR) as among of the International Monetary Fund’s Extended Credit Facility programme.
A high degree of dollarization limits the role of monetary policy. To increase its liquidity-management tools, the CBL has completed the operational framework to issue local-currency treasury bills, and it may as well issue central bank bills. Additionally, the CBL has undertaken efforts to increase financial intermediation, which has contributed to strong lending increase. Credit to the private sector increased by 28% between December 2010 and November 2011. As of November 2011, 41% of commercial bank loans were to the trade, hotel, and restaurant sector, followed by 35% to the “other” sector, which includes individuals and service-related institutions. The construction sector and the transport, storage, and communication sector each comprised 9% of loans. Non-performing loans remain high, although they decreased from 25.1% in 2010 to 20.8% in 2011.
The money supply increased by 21% between December 2010 and November 2011, driven by an increase in request deposits and currency outside banks. High dollarization continued, with the US dollar share of broad money stable at 73% in November 2011.
Consumer price inflation increased from an average annual rate of 7.5% in 2010 to 8.5% in December 2011. Imported food prices averaged 8.2% in 2011, while domestic food inflation increased from 6.2% in 2010 to 17.0% in 2011 due to poor road conditions. Transport inflation increased from 4.7% in 2010 to 18.2% in December 2011 due to higher prices for petroleum products. Inflation is projected to be moderate in 2012 and 2013 at 5.6 and 5.7%, respectively.
Average lending rates decreased from 14.4% in the 3rd quarter of 2010 to 13.8% in the 3rd quarter of 2011. Over the same period, the average personal-loan rate increased slightly from 14.42% to 14.44%, while the average mortgage rate increased from 14.28% to 15%. Average time deposit rates decreased slightly between the 3rd quarter of 2010 and 2011, from 2.9% to 2.7%. 

Economic Cooperation, Regional Integration & Trade
The commencement of iron ore-exports in September 2011 and a gradual increase in timber and palm-oil production will increase Liberia’s exports in 2012 and 2013, thereby diversifying away from a recent reliance on rubber exports. Foreign-financed imports associated with the construction of mines and services for the UN Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) will contribute to a current account deficit, which is projected to be 36.6% of GDP in 2011 and to increase to 59.3% in 2012 and 63.4% in 2013.
Concession-related FDI has already increased considerably over recent years, from USD 153 million in 2009 to USD 431 million in 2011, according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF). This is expected to increase further to USD 821 million in 2012 and USD 903 million in 2013. The government projects total overseas development assistance, including UNMIL, at USD 1 035 million in FY 2011/12 with a slight decrease to USD 923 million in FY 2012/13.
Liberia applied for World Trade Organization membership in 2007, finalised its trade-regime memorandum in July 2011, and expects to conclude the membership process in 2012. The government is adopting the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) common external tariff in phases, with a decrease in tariff rates in FY 2012 and rate increases scheduled for subsequent years. It currently depends upon trade taxes for about 40% of its tax revenue. Liberia made trading across borders faster by implementing online submission of customs forms and enhancing risk-based inspections, thereby reducing time to export to 15 days in 2011, and time to import to 14 days. Nonetheless, the number of documents required for trade is higher than the average in Sub-Saharan Africa, and Liberia ranks 116th out of 183 countries on “trading across borders” in the 2012 Doing Business Statement. Liberia was one of two countries in the West Africa Monetary Zone to meet macroeconomic convergence criteria in the first half of 2011. 
Debt Policy
Liberia reached the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) Initiative Completion Point in June 2010 and has received debt relief of USD 4.6 billion, which reduced the country’s outstanding debt from 191% of GDP in 2009 to 10.7% in 2011. The government has made substantial evolution in finalising rescheduling agreements leaving just one remaining official creditor. The country is planning on increasing investment in key projects to enable increase, for which it will borrow on concessional terms. Four projects were recently approved by the World Bank, and two extra projects are under negotiation for FY 2012. Debt is projected to rise slightly to 11.4% of GDP in 2012 and 12.9% in 2013.
Taking into account the extra debt relief provided by Paris Club creditors, Liberia’s debt outlook is stable over the medium term. Nevertheless, debt ratios are sensitive to lower exports and FDI and less favourable financial terms of new borrowing. Public debt is vulnerable to lower GDP increase and a higher pace of debt accumulation.
After reaching the HIPC completion point in 2010, the government has put in place fiscal rules to control borrowing, including: limiting domestic borrowing to 1% of GDP, limiting total borrowing (domestic and external) to 3 % of GDP, and maintaining the total debt stock (including SOEs) below 60% of GDP. The Debt Management Unit is currently operational, although its capacity needs further enhancement. The government has prepared guidelines for government guarantees for SOE borrowing that require a case-by-case financial assessment by the Debt Management Committee. 

Economic & Political Governance

Private Sector
Private-sector development outside of the enclave sectors is severely constrained by poor infrastructure, including a low ratio of paved roads to unpaved roads that are largely impassable during the rainy season, inadequate port facilities, and electricity that costs over 50 US cents per kWh compared against 15 cents in most African countries. The skills base of the labour pool is as well poor, after a lot of of the majority qualified workers left during the war while the people that remained could not access education and training.
The government has made efforts to improve the business climate and the country’s ranking in the 2012 Doing Business Statement rose four positions from last year to 151 this year after being recognised as a Top Ten World Reformer in 2010. Improves to the requirements for starting a business led to a jump from 71st to 35th, while improvements in access to credit improved the ranking from 139th to 98th. Nonetheless, the country continued to rank very poorly in some measures, including 147th on protecting investors, 166th on enforcing contracts, and 176th on registering property. The last Enterprise Survey in 2009 identified corruption, crime, electricity, and access to finance as the largest constraints to investment.
Improves in investment incentives and commercial code and courts inclunding changes to the Revenue Code in 2010 will support private-sector development and ensure better security for commercial transactions. The revised Revenue Code provides tax incentives for investing outside of Monrovia. It as well reduced the top corporate tax rate from 35% to 25%.
Financial Sector
In the financial sector, improves were implemented to improve the sector’s stability and to increase access to credit and financial services, including the microfinance sector. The banking system is liquid and well capitalised, and credit increase has been strong for the last three years. Non-performing loans decreased in 2011, but are still higher than in previous years and high for the region. The CBL has responded to this by intensifying the cycle of on-site targeted credit examination and complementing this with extra rigorous off-site surveillance. The CBL is as well assisting commercial banks to strengthen their internal risk-management guidelines and has required them to adopt international financial reporting standards (IFRS) by the end of 2012. The CBL led efforts to develop a new Commercial Code and a law to establish a new commercial court in 2011, which should improve the enforcement of financial contracts.
The CBL has progressed with new initiatives to expand financial intermediation, including to the unbanked, through a USD 5 million credit-stimulus initiative to SMEs launched in November 2010 and another USD 5 million facility targeted to the agriculture sector expected to be launched in early 2012. It has as well facilitated microfinance, and mobile banking was introduced in September 2011. Moral suasion by the government maintains relatively low lending rates to serve the small and medium enterprise sector, although this constrains the profitability of banks. Nevertheless, these efforts have improved Liberia’s Doing Business access to credit ranking from 139th in the 2011 statement to 98th in 2012.
The CBL is modernising the payments system and intensifying efforts to develop a capital market, which will be led by the commencement of a treasury-bill or central-bank-bill market in 2012. The market for long-term capital is not from now on developed and there are no effective vehicles for contractual savings and collective investment aside from the National Social Security and Welfare Corporation. The banking sector’s benefits is concentrated in fee-based activities while the legal and regulatory framework for collateralised lending is underdeveloped.
Public Sector Management, Institutions & Reform
The government continues to make significant evolution in reforming public-sector management. The government endorsed a comprehensive Personal-Finance Management (PFM) strategy and Action Plan in May 2011 to guide the implementation of the PFM-reform schedule in the medium term. It has made considerable investments in data technology systems to improve efficiency, accountability, and transparency. The Integrated Financial Management Data System went live in the Ministry of Finance in July 2011 and will be extended to other ministries and agencies. The Automated System for Customs Data (ASYCUDA) is in place at Roberts International Airport and will be extended to 14 largest customs ports over the next two years. The Integrated Tax Government System was launched in April 2011 and the Human Resources Management Data System has been installed.
Transparency has increased through increased external audits of ministries, publishing of procurement contracts, and compliance with the requirements of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI). The Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission, founded in 2008, has investigated extra than a dozen cases of improper conduct and referred six to the Ministry of Justice, but so far only one case has been prosecuted. Amendments to the Liberian Investment Code in 2010 and the Liberian Revenue Code (LRC) in 2011 have reduced the scope for administrative discretion, and reviews are underway to ensure the LRC is sufficiently rules-based. Only eight of thirty SOEs are complying with financial reporting requirements, and in an attempt to increase compliance, the government has made next SOE foreign or domestic borrowing contingent on compliance.
The Ibrahim Index of African Governance shows that Liberia was one of the top two improving countries between 2006 and 2011. Liberia ranked 91st on Transparency International’s 2011 Corruption Perceptions Index, a slight drop from 87th the prior year, but a marked improvement from 150th place in 2007.
Natural Resource Management & Environment
In 2011, the government completed negotiations on a Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) with the EU to assure local and export markets that timber has been legally produced. The VPA will help Liberia improve its forest management and introduce an independent auditor to strengthen monitoring and oversight of forestry activities.
Liberia was the first African and second worldwide country to be compliant with the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI), and first worldwide to include the forestry sector in its reporting. In 2011, it completed its 3rd EITI Statement, which covered payments made to the government by 121 mining, oil, agriculture, and forestry companies between July 2009 and June 2010, compared to 64 companies in the 2nd statement. It as well released a statement on incentivising EITI-compliant countries using Liberia as a case study.
Efforts are underway to improve environmental planning and management capacity in key line ministries and agencies, notably the Environment Protection Agency, the Forest Development Authority, the Ministry of Lands, Mines and Energy, the Ministry of Public Works and the Liberia Water and Sewerage Corporation. In the 2011 Ibrahim Index of African Governance, Liberia ranked 10th out of 53 countries on environmental policies, a marked improvement from 37 in 2006. There has been some improvement in access to water and sanitation since the end of the conflict, but evolution has been limited. An estimated 62% of the people has access to protected water sources, while only 25% of households have access to improved sanitation.
Political Context
President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf secured a second six-year term after winning two rounds of elections in October and November 2011, although her party did not win a majority in the legislature. International observers described the first round as free and fair, but the largest opposition party claimed it was fraudulent and boycotted the November runoff, which it was widely expected to lose. Turnout was only 38% in the November 8 poll, and Sirleaf won extra than 90% of the vote. Sirleaf was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize days before the election, which brought some criticism in Liberia that she was out of touch with common people.
Disaffected youth supporting the opposition party clashed with police the day before the November poll and at least one person was killed, although the opposition claims that eight died, and dozens were injured. The situation has mostly calmed since the election, and the opposition attended Sirleaf’s January 2012 inauguration. Nevertheless extra legitimate inclusive political dialogue needs to be developed to encourage peace and national building.
The UN Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) still numbers about 8,000 peacekeepers in Liberia and may maintain a presence until 2014. Liberia’s police force of 4,000 and army of 2,000 are being trained by the UN and US, but their performance during the disturbances in November led some to question their readiness to take over from UNMIL. Security will as well remain a critical issue due to concerns about regional instability spreading into the country. Extra than 100,000 refugees from Côte d'Ivoire’s election crisis in early 2011 remain in Liberia’s south-eastern counties, lowering food reserves in these areas. 

Social Context & Human Development

Building Human Resources
In addition to rehabilitating existing schools, the government has implemented free and compulsory basic primary education nationwide, which has led to markedly increased school enrolments. In doing so, it has gradually increased its spending on education from USD 11 million in 2006 to USD 55 million in 2011. The net primary enrolment ratio (NER) has steadily increased since 2003, with a large increase from 37% to 49% between 2008 and 2009. Nevertheless, Liberia is unlikely to reach the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) 2 of universal primary education by 2015. Nevertheless, the youth-literacy target is within reach: the youth-literacy rate increased from 60% in 1994 to 75% in 2008, with Liberia ranking as 95th out of 215 countries on this indicator. Nonetheless, access to training for adults is limited, and there is a high illiteracy rate amongst adults: 49.1% of women and 39.8% of men are illiterate.
Liberia has shown a significant decrease in child mortality over the last decade, lowering the under-five mortality rate from 194 per 1000 births in 2000 to 114 in 2009, but evolution has slowed in recent years and it is unlikely to reach the MDG 4 goal of 64 by 2015. Limited evolution has been made towards reducing maternal mortality (MDG 5). The maternal mortality rate in 2007 was 994 per 100 000 births, an increase over 2000 when it was 578, and far from the 2015 target of 145. The proportion of births attended by skilled health personnel worsened during this period from 51% in 2000 to 46% in 2007, and the 2015 target of 97 appears to be out of reach.
The government has performed well in the prevention and treatment of infectious diseases and is likely to reach MDG 6. Treatment for malaria has improved with 67% of febrile children under five years of age using anti-malarials, up from only 59% in 2007. HIV prevalence for ages 15 to 49 has steadily reduced over the last decade, from 3.3% in 2000 to 1.5% in 2009, and Liberia may reach the MDG goal of 0.75% by 2015. Antiretroviral therapy coverage increased from 10% in 2006 to 14% in 2009. Estimates of child immunization rates against tuberculosis and against measles in 2009 are, respectively, 92% and 95%, surpassing average rates for Africa.
Poverty Reduction, Social Protection & Labour
Liberia is one of the world’s poorest countries, ranking 182nd out of 187 countries in the 2011 Human Development index, with an estimated Gross National benefits per capita of USD 265 and some 64% of the people earning less than the poverty line of one dollar per day. To improve the situation, the government has organised the annual budget around the priorities of the PRSP, and social sector expenditures are expected to grow as the PRS is implemented. As such, the government has increased the broad alignment of spending with PRS objectives by category in the last three fiscal years from 64% in FY 2008/09 to 73% in FY 2010/11.
Social protection of the poorest people is under-resourced, with poorly coordinated activities financed by donors and executed mainly by international NGOs. Nonetheless, spending on social safety net programmes is 1.5% of GDP, higher than the average in West Africa, but amount programmes cover less than one-quarter of the people. Total social-sector spending (including education, health, gender and social, and youth and sport) has gradually increased from USD 36 million in 2008 to USD 53 million in 2010. Nevertheless, 93% of this is funded by international donors.
Programmes include targeted cash transfers, public works in which the poor work for food or cash, in-kind food transfers (including school feeding programmes and emergency food distribution), general subsidies for food and energy, and fee waivers for health and education. The government runs a contributory National Social Security and Welfare Corporation, which provides protection for old-age retirement, work-related injury and illness, and disability. Nevertheless, there were only 70,000 people enrolled in 2010. Evolution has been noted in the Ibrahim Index of African Governance, which in 2011 ranked Liberia 25th of 53 countries for the welfare regime, a marked improvement over 39th in 2008. It ranks 39th for social protection and labour.
The government has issued a National Employment Policy (NEP) that supports private sector increase and economic development with due regard for international labour standards and has established NEP implementation, monitoring, and evaluation responsibilities at the Ministry of Labour in 2010. Additionally, since January 2011, it has revised the revenue code to make it extra progressive. It now excludes the lowest benefits earners from paying taxes and as well caps the tax rate at 25%, a reduction from 35%.
The government is creating extra opportunities for agricultural trade and price addition through better infrastructure and the creation of higher price chains. Community-based development is strengthening social capital and addressing some of the causes of conflict. The government is as well making evolution towards enhancing agricultural productivity and increasing production of staple food and export commodities particularly by smallholder and female producers, and improving access to food through available and affordable factors of production, competitive markets and strengthened social safety nets.
Gender Equality
The government approved a National Gender Policy, an Action Plan to combat gender-based violence, and adopted a National Action Plan on the UN Security Council Resolution 1325 in 2010. It has as well adopted the Convention on the Elimination of Amount Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW). Women have made strides towards the attainment of gender equality in key agreement-making positions, and they occupy 5 of 21 cabinet positions, 5 of 36 legislator positions, and 2 of 5 Supreme Court positions. Legislators have introduced “The Fairness Bill” which requires 20% female representation in political offices and party leadership. Liberia was named the winner of the 2010 MDG 3 award for outstanding leadership, commitment, and evolution in promoting gender equality and women’s empowerment.
The Ministry of Education has proposed programmes to reduce the enrolment gap between boys and girls through a Girls’ Education Action Plan. The ratio of female to male enrolment has increased from 69% in 2001 to 87% in 2009 at the primary level but from 59% to only 72% at the secondary level. Nevertheless, in rural areas only 6% of girls are enrolled in secondary schools compared to 13% of boys.