Liberia: Eton, Ebomaf Road Financing Loan Agreements Completely Dead

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Monrovia – World Bank Ghana, Liberia and Sierra Leone Country Director, Henry G. R. Kerali has disclosed that the Government of Liberia has set aside the Eton and EBOMAF loan agreements because they were not beneficial to Liberia.

Gerald C. Koinyeneh 00231777769531 [email protected]

In place of the loans, Mr. Kerali said the World Bank was able to find alternative financing sources in the forms of grants and loans to enable government to achieve its objectives.

 Mr. Kerali: “Our understanding from the Government is that those two loans have been set aside and government is not proceeding with those two loans. So, all the evidence we have from the government prove that the information is correct, and that they have indeed set aside those two loans. The challenge that we had with those two specific loans were that they were non-concessional. In other words, interest rate and the terms and conditions were not necessarily beneficial to Liberia.”

He continued: “But more importantly, we were able to provide alternative financing sources for the government to achieve its objectives. So, it’s not that the government has set aside those loans, and nothing will be done. But rather, we are comfortable that we were able to provide the alternative financing sources on terms that are much better including grants, and in general concessionary financing that is more atoned to the fiscal and debt positions of Liberia.”

Kerali, who is stationed in Ghana was in Liberia this week meeting with top government officials including President George M. Weah, the Minister of State and Presidential Affairs, Nathaniel McGill, Finance and Development Planning Minister Samuel Tweh and the Minister of Public Works, Mobutu Nyenpan to discuss about the World Bank’s interventions towards the government’s development drive.

Kerali’s disclosure, when confirmed by the Government of Liberia, will put to rest the sustained debate surrounding the two controversial loans that were rectified by the Legislature and signed by President Weah in June 2018 despite staunch criticisms from local and international experts.

Background

The ETON Financing loan agreement signed between Liberia and Eton Financing, an amalgamation of Asian investment companies covers the construction of 505.3km of roads including rest stops.

It starts with a 316-kilometer coastal highway from Buchanan, Grand Bassa County through Cestos City in Rivercess County to Greenville City in Sinoe and onward to Barclayville City in Grand Kru County.  

The road construction also includes the 21-km road between Barclayville and Sasstown in Grand Kru County; while the 75km Barclayville to Pleebo  in Grand Kru and Maryland Counties will be constructed and paved.

In Western Liberia include the 52KM Tubmanburg to Bopolu road in Bomi and Garpolu Counties respectively and the 41.3km Medina and Robertsport road in Bomi and Gbarpolu Counties.

The road construction projects, according to the government were expected to be completed in the first term of this administration.  
 

On the other hand, the EBOMAF SA Loan covers the pavement of 323.7 km roads including the Somalia Drive via Kesselley Boulevard to Sinkor in Monrovia (16km), Tappita to Zwedru in Nimba and Grand Gedeh Counties respectively, and from Toe Town in Grand Gedeh County to Ivory Coast Border (10.2km) road.

It also includes the 185km road from Zwedru in Grand Gedeh County to Greenville in Sinoe County.

However, since its ratification by the Legislature and subsequent signature by the President, nothing has been said about the loans amid tons of inquiries from the public sphere.

President Weah’s failure to mention the loans in his recent state of the nation address drew anger and staunch criticisms from the opposition block and other groups including the Student Unification Party (SUP) at the University of Liberia.

However, speaking to the media at the end of his visit to Liberia on Thursday, February 7, the World Bank’s Regional Director noted that all is not lost as the bank has found alternative sources to help the government meets it objectives.

He revealed that under its Country Partnership Framework (CPF) for fiscal year 2019 to 2024, the World Bank is expected to spend between US$300 million to US$500 million to help Liberia achieve sustainable and resilient pro poor economic growth.

He furthered that the CPF supports the Liberian Government’s Pro-poor Agenda for Prosperity and Development (PAPD) and is build on three pillars including: “strengthening institutions and creating an enabling environment for inclusive and sustainable growth; building human capital to seize new economic opportunities; and narrowing the infrastructure gap to foster equitable development nationwide.

He revealed that during the meeting with President Weah, matters concerning the economy the economy were discussed.

“We discussed the challenges facing the economy and what actions are needed to improve the economy; how to strengthen the business environment to drive faster growth. The private sector needs to grow. We also talked about digital development; a lot of young people are computer literate and how do we support them were discussed,” he averred.

Infrastructure Program

On the road program, he revealed that the meeting with Public Works Minister, Mobutu Nyenpan focused on the Ganta to Tappita and to Zwedru road corridor where contractors are being selected to commence work within few months’ time. The African Development Bank, he said, is overseeing the construction of the road in the southeastern region including River Gee and Maryland Counties.

VACANCY ANNOUNCEMENT

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