Day 2: Country Session – Liberia and Sierra Leone

Herbert M’cleod, Country Director of IGC-Sierra Leone and Dr Eric Werker, Country Director of IGC-Liberia chaired the Liberia and Sierra Leone Country Programme session at Growth Week 2014.

Dr Rachel Glennerster, Lead Academic of Sierra Leone, opened with Commercialisation of Smallholder Agriculture: Recent Research Findings from Sierra Leone. The studies included research on cocoa, palm oil, rice, and rural road rehabilitation, and how the interventions and behaviours observed contributed to yields, seasonality of prices, the incidence of malnutrition, and transport and search costs. She was followed by Dr. Joseph Kargbo, DG of the Sierra Leone Agricultural Research Institute who spoke on A Century of Agricultural Research and Policy, outlining barriers to productivity, as well as past, current, and potential approaches to and research on market dynamics, value chains, expenditures on agricultural development, and rural poverty, emphasising the latent potential for productive arable land and improvements in food quality.

The Liberia portion of the session began with Oyebola Okunogbe’s (Harvard Kennedy School) presentation, Increasing Property Tax Compliance in Liberia, which investigated methods towards improving tax morale and government tax enforcement capacity. She was followed by IGC Country Economist John Spray, who discussed Price Controls in Uncompetitive Markets with Weak Institutions. This research analysed the natural experiment of price ceiling removal in the late 2000s, finding that retail goods previously subjected to controls increased relative to exempted ones, that less elite markets were already so competitive as to preclude any price reductions, and that price ceilings might have helped suppress monopoly prices. Discussant Jaime de Melo suggested future research on competition policy in Liberia, including the areas of pricing to market and the potential for an open trading regime.

By Anne Laski, Country Economist, IGC Tanzania