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Fletcher Graduate To Lead Liberia's Finance Ministry

Fletcher Graduate To Lead Liberia's Finance MinistryIn an effort to eliminate corruption in Liberia, the country’s newly elected president tapped Fletcher graduate Antoinette Sayeh to take over its Finance Ministry.

Medford/Somerville, Mass. [03.21.06] For years, civil war and government corruption plagued the African nation of Liberia. But its newly elected president, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, has begun shaking things up. In a move to set the country on a path to peace and economic growth, Sirleaf recruited Fletcher graduate Antoinette Sayeh to steer Liberia’s economy.

“We need to restore our credibility to the international community, we need to ensure that we improve financial management, debt management and that we are making efforts to curb corruption in the Liberian society,” Sayeh, who earned her master’s and doctoral degrees from Fletcher in 1982 and 1985, respectively, told FrontPageAfrica.

Her appointment in February made Sayeh the second woman in Liberia’s history to serve as its minister of finance. (Sirleaf was the first.) According to Africa News, her first goal is to take steps to eliminate corruption.

"We need to have our financial house in order to fight against corruption," Sayeh, 47, said in January during her nomination hearings, Africa News reported.

Sayeh’s challenge is daunting, according to China’s Xinhua news service.

“Sayeh comes to [the] job confronted with an unemployment rate estimated at 85 percent and with a monthly average of civil servants' wage of less than 30 U.S. dollars,” Xinhua reported. “The country's external debt is put at 3.5 billion dollars with a domestic debt estimated at 250 million dollars.”

Already, Sayeh, who previously worked as an economist and development expert for the World Bank, has a strategy for tackling the problem.

Sayeh explained to Africa News that, in order to initiate an economic turnaround in Liberia, she intends to enlist the support of organizations like the International Monetary Fund - a global institution that provides countries with financial and technical support to lift them out of economic crises – and the World Bank, as well as the United States and the European Union.

But, while Sayeh turns to the international community for assistance in improving the country’s financial situation, she’s also engaging Liberians in the process.

“She said that it is the responsibility of Liberians to demonstrate patriotism and hard work to their country before anyone else,” Africa News reported.



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