Liberia: House of Representatives Summons Top Cabinet Ministers over ‘Failed’ Eton, EBOMAF Loan Agreements
Capitol Hill, Monrovia – The House of Representatives has invited the Minister of Finance and Development Planning (MFDP), Samuel Tweah along with the Ministers of Justice and Public Works, Cllr. Frank Musa Dean and Mobutu Nyenpan to appear this Thursday, July 2, 2020 to give the status of the Eton and EBOMAF loans.
The Plenary of the House took the decision based on a communication from Representative Samuel Kogar (District #5, Nimba County) seeking the plenary’s indulgence to invite the three officials to state why the agreements are not being implemented after two years of its ratification.
“It is despicable to note Mr. Speaker and colleagues that since the instruments were ratified by this body exactly two years ago, nothing has been said or heard about these agreements as to whether they are implementable or not; considering that the construction period of the coastal corridor road project as per the ratified agreement would be within 48 months from the day of commencement,” Kogar wrote in his communication.
He further, “It is my curiosity to get abreast with unfolding developments relative to the status and prospect of those agreements as mentioned above, I seek the endorsement of Plenary to invite the Minister of Finance and Development Planning, the Minister of Justice and the Minister of Public works who ably affirmed and confirmed that the loans were good and met the wishes and aspirations of the Liberian people to give us status report.”
Rep. Kogar added if it is established that the loan are no longer realizable, the House should revoke the agreements for the sake of record.
Following the reading of the communication, Representative Jeremiah Koung (District #1, Nimba County) filed a motion calling for the three Ministers to appear this Thursday.
The much trumpeted Eton (US$536.4 million) and EBOMAF (US$420.8) loan agreements were signed in the early stages of the Weah-led government and ratified in June 2018 by the Legislature for the implementation of the government’s so-called costal highway construction project.
Though the government has not officially declared that the agreements have failed, the senior official of the World Bank, Henry G. R. Kerali in February 2029 disclosed that the Government of Liberia has set aside the Eton and EBOMAF loan agreements because they were not beneficial to the country.
Mr. Kerali, who spoke in his capacity World Bank Ghana, Liberia and Sierra Leone Country Director said in place of the loans, the Bank was able to find alternative financing sources in the forms of grants and loans to enable government to achieve its objectives.
“It is despicable to note Mr. Speaker and colleagues that since the instruments were ratified by this body exactly two years ago, nothing has been said or heard about these agreements as to whether they are implementable or not; considering that the construction period of the coastal corridor road project as per the ratified agreement would be within 48 months from the day of commencement.”Representative Samuel Kogar (District #5, Nimba County)
“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 said while addressing a World Bank’s forum in Monrovia.
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.”
To take you back, the ETON Financing loan agreement was signed between Liberia and Eton Financing, an amalgamation of Asian investment companies and covers the construction of 505.3km of roads including rest stops.
Back in 2018, the Government announced that the project would have started 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 included 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.
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.
The road construction projects, according to the government were expected to be completed in the first term of this administration.