Liberia: Stakeholder, CSOs Call for Ratification of Controversial US$536 Loan Agreement
Monrovia – The Legislature Joint Committees on Ways, Means, Finance and Development Planning and Judiciary Monday, June 4, received the push to rectify the loan agreement between the Government of Liberia and the Eton US$536 million loan financing agreement.
Report by Henry Karmo, [email protected]
During the hearing, which was addressed by a representative of the civil society of Liberia and senior government officials in focal positions, all urged the members of the legislative joint committees to do the ratification.
Speakers at the Monday hearing, including Dr. Lester Tenny, who represented the CSOs, Justice Minister Cllr. Frank Musa Dean, Public Works Minister Mubutu Vlah Nyenpan, all told the lawmakers to ignore the hard questions about the loan givers and focus on the impact of the loan.
Dr. Tenny specifically said there is nothing wrong even if Liberia were borrowing money from the devil. According to him once the money from the devil was intended for development, it is good.
“When the President said he was pursuing a pro-poor agenda, this was what he meant: developing our infrastructure, creating avenues from private sector investment, employment creation and poverty reduction. The economy will expand and the government will generate more income in the future to repay her loans.”
Also speaking, Justice Minister Dean described it as one of the best loan agreements the country has ever entered into. He called on critics to give the process a chance and stop interposing hurdles to the process.
“Some people say the people don’t have website; will the money be sent through the web?” Cllr. Dean asked rhetorically.
He further stated that as the legal person of the government, he has read the loan financing agreement, and “Its benefits surpass petty consolidation.”
“If you enact this agreement, it becomes law that will impact our economy. The agreement does not impose any particular company. The Ministry of Public Works will do the vetting,” he added.
Making his case before the committees’ members, Public Works Minister Nyenpan called for radical affirmative action if the situation of roads that has become a ‘national security threat and national emergency is to be addressed.’
He argued that the country’s annual budgetary allotment to roads connectivity is too meager to address the chronic nature of bad roads in the country. The Works Minister also believes that intervention by bilateral partners in the road sector is inadequate to substantively change the situation.
“We cannot build our country by relying on handouts or by thinking small. As Liberians and as a government, which got elected on an ‘agenda of change,’ we cannot continue to do ‘business as usual.’ Our people have hopelessly waited for far too long.
“There must be a paradigm shift. President Weah has therefore made roads connectivity as the first and foremost priority of his administration as a means of actualizing the pro-poor agenda. I urge you to support the President in this lofty endeavor,” Minister Nyenpan said.
He also believes that the financing agreement before the Legislature presents a unique opportunity for Liberia to change the status quo.
In the agreement, according to the Minister, Liberian engineering companies will be direct participants.