World Bank Rescues Liberia Amid Concern of ETON, EBOMAF Loan Deals Delay
Monrovia – The Liberian government announced on Thursday, August 2, that it is holding talks with the World Bank to source a US$500 million loan deal for the implementation of road projects in the country that it has made a top development priority.
Report by J.H. Webster Clayeh, [email protected]
Making the disclosure at the Ministry of Information’s regular press briefing Thursday, August 2 in Monrovia, Information Minister Lenn Eugene Nagbe said that talks of the new loan deal from the World Bank came after President George Weah had engaged executives of the Bank and other development partners.
Nagbe said President Weah was advised by developmental partners to do “smart borrowing” in order to avoid expanding the country’s borrowing space.
“The World Bank now has presented to the government of Liberia an offer of US$500 million initially for the support of road. We have not concluded the agreement yet; the Minister of Finance is leading the discussion. We have been given an offer and the government will pay over the concessional period at the interest rate of 0.5 percent,” Nagbe informed.
The announcement by the government about sourcing another loan to fund the country’s road development comes following the rectification and signing of two separate loan deals involving private borrowers that cost almost US$1 billion.
Although the funds were been sorted for road construction in the southeast of the country, there were looming concerns that the World Bank and other traditional loaners of Liberia were frowning on the two “controversial deals” before their passage by the Legislature.
At the same time, critics of the government have slammed its borrowing strategy, claiming that it might be almost improbable for the two private firms to source the almost US$1 billion dollar.
However, Nagbe’s revelation about President Weah’s interactions with development partners before arrangements for the potential deal from the World Bank validates allegations that there were suspicions from the World Bank about the two controversial loan deals.
But Nagbe, also taking time to rant at critics, claimed that the President had told the development partners that “if they do not want him to borrow in the commercial space, they should bring money for his development agenda
With already US$3.4 billion estimated by development partners for the construct of roads in the country, Minister Nagbe said development partners have promised to come back after several consultations.
“So, they have come back. Now, the World Bank and the consortium of other partners will give Liberia a concessional financing arrangement that we as a government are looking at positively of a total of US$1billion dollar,” he said.
According to Nagbe, President Weah has pitched to these developmental partners including the World Bank, a maximum of three-year timeframe for the targeted roads to be built, which means his government expects the bank to expedite the deal for the availability of the fund.
The government is also eyeing another US$500 million from the World Bank should the pending discussions go well, Nagbe said.
“We are not guessing when we say we want to build a coastal highway. We are going to the next step to find the money,” the Minister said.
Continuing his ranting at critics of the government that have taken aim at the procedural of sourcing both the Eton and Ebomaf loan deals, Nagbe dubbed them as “people who get the great ability to make good things look bad some members of the opposition, they say the Eton deal is a 419 (fake).”
Infrastructural Paradigm shift
Liberia’s Minister of Public Works Mabotu Nyenpan said the construction of roads remains the ultimate priority in the development agenda of the Wead-led government.
Out of the 12,000km of roads in the country, Minister Nyenpan stated the country, over the 171 years, has managed to pave about 1,000km representing just five percent of the total road in the country. He termed as a “threat to national security.”
“And so, there is a need that we have a paradigm shift, we cannot continue to do business as we have done over the many years. We have to change the status quo,” he stressed.
No Agreement with Karpower
Meanwhile, Minister Nagbe claims that despite the construction of the Mount Coffee Hydro Plant, the Liberian government is looking for other “relatively appreciable” means of energy for the country.
“Yes, we agree that the Mount Coffee is a good thing, but it is insufficient to meet our energy need. Definitely, we as a government will explode other avenues.”
He was also responding to concern about a reported deal the government is considering with a Turkey energy firm Karpower to supply power to the country.
Although the MICAT boss admitted that there are talks between the government and Karpower, he claims that there has been no deal signed yet.
“The specific issue that has been raised about the Turkish group, the government has not consummated any deal with Karpower,” he said, adding that the government has been receiving proposals from other energy firms to do solar energy in the hinterland.
“Mount Coffee is producing about 80 megawatts of electricity and we are evacuating 22 megawatts because we did not factor in transmission and distribution of the energy that is being generated.”