-As Gov’t Sets Agreements Aside; World Bank Confirmed
By Esau J. Farr
Despite shielding information about the existence of the two ‘quickly-signed’ loan agreements under the administration of the CDC-led government in 2018, the World Bank has confirmed that “The Government of Liberia has set the agreements aside”.
The confirmation of the dissolution of the agreements was made by the Country Director of the World Bank, Henry G. R. Kerali Thursday, February 7, 2019 at the offices of the World Bank in Congo Town during an interactive forum between officials of the Bank and the Liberian Media.
“During our consultations with the Government of Liberia, the government told us that it has set the two loan agreements aside because it was not beneficial to the country”, the World Bank Country Director for Ghana, Liberia and Sierra Leone told journalists before his departure from the country on Thursday.
The statement from the World Bank is in contrast to recent statements from top government officials in Liberia that the two loan agreements are still alive and good for the development of the country.
It can be recalled that mid last year (2018), the Government of Liberia simultaneously passed and signed into law the two instruments despite public outcry over the legality and benefits of the agreements.
Some members of the 54th Legislature are on record for calling on the President to go out and scout for ‘More Loans’ in the name of development, especially road construction across the country.
Not only that, but also some top and senior government officials shouted over their heads and wrote on their Facebook pages that even if the money came from the ‘belly of the devil’ or whether there was no website for the companies lending the loans, they were willing to accept the deals as they were.
After all of the exchanges between government and civil society organizations and politicians on one hand, the agreements were finally signed by President George M. Weah; a ceremony that saw some members of top government officials leaving their official duties to witness the signing ceremony as though it was a holiday for them.
Less than two months after it was signed into law, Finance and Development Planning Minister, Samuel Tweah agreed with the public and opposition that due diligence was not done to the two agreements adding that it was subject to review before finalization despite already being signed into laws by President Weah.
With the confirmation of the setting aside of the two loan agreements on the basis of ‘Not beneficial to Liberia’ and that the World Bank has advanced positive alternatives in helping the Government of Liberia to achieve its developmental agenda through direct budgetary support and grants, it now puts to bed the long running debate of whether the deals were good or even alive. One can safely say that the agreements are indeed dead.
The forum was organized for the World Bank officials in Liberia to brief the Liberian Media on the just released Country Partnership Framework (CPF) between the Government of Liberia and donor partners.
According to the CPF, the World Bank is prepared to provide direct and indirect budgetary support to the government of Liberia in the tone of about US$500m for a period of five years.
The period, according to Mr. Kerali covers Fiscal period 2019 to 2024 and that it has already started with the current Fiscal Year 2018/2019.
The World Bank Country Director disclosed that about US$150m has been set aside for 2018/2019 budget support affecting energy, road construction, health and agriculture in support of the government’s Pro-Poor Agenda for Prosperity and Development (PAPD).
The Bank however, pointed out that continual budget support to central government will be dependent on performance and impact assessment report from time to time to ensuring that the targeted goals and objectives as well as direct beneficiaries show signs of improvement in line with best practices since the Bank is concerned about governance and result.