World Bank Boosts Liberia’s Transformation With US$40M Grant

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Monrovia – The World Bank (WB) Liberia Country Manager, Larisa Leshchenko, has stressed that the US$40 million World Bank’s Poverty Reduction grant will be a key boost in the implementation of the Liberian Government’s Agenda for Transformation.

The Agenda for Transformation is the Liberian Government’s five-year development strategy.

Speaking to journalists at the Bank’s media dialogue Tuesady, Leshchenko said the agreement to enable the operation of the grant become effective was signed by the Bank and the Liberian Government recently in Monrovia, following its approval by the World Bank Executive Board of Directors in Washington DC.

“We are pleased to inform you that Finance and Development Planning Minister Boima Kamara and I signed the US$40 million grant to enable the operation become effective,” she said.

“This operation,” the World Bank official continued, “will strengthen governance, with particular emphasis on transparency and accountability, as well as budget execution and oversight; it will address key constraints to growth, including electricity; and improve human capital development, particularly through improved access to education and health.

 The World Bank official noted that the poverty reduction agreement, a third in series of four operations, signifies that Liberia has developed a good track record of undertaking difficult and challenging reforms, something she termed as “crucial for helping to create the enabling environment for the transformation of the economy and improvement of lives of the Liberian people.”

She also revealed that the third grant includes US$8 million from the Crisis Response Window of the International Development Association (IDA).

Also speaking from Ghana, World Bank’s Equitable Growth, Finance and Institutions (EFI) Program Leader, Errol Graham said the grant will help address governance reforms and human capital development in the country.

“This operation will help the Government of Liberia to strengthen governance with particular emphasis on transparency and accountability,” he said.

It will also address key constraints to growth, including electricity. And will help mitigate the commodity price shocks.”

Mr. Graham disclosed that the World Bank is working with the Government of Liberia to diversify its economy owing to the slump in price of the country’s traditional natural resources in iron ore and rubber.

“Iron ore and rubber account to 90 percent of Liberia’s export,” he said. So if you get a shock on one of those, you will get a substantial negative impact on the economy as a whole. Part of the work we are doing is to look at how Liberia can diversify its economy; and part of the answer to that lies in providing more electricity,” the World Bank’s official averred.

In another development, the World Bank Liberia Country Manager has disclosed that the World Bank and the government of Liberia also signed a US$4.2 million grant of the Catalytic Growth Fund of the World Bank to support the completion of key construction of the West Africa Regional Fisheries program in Liberia.

Madam Leshchenko said the financing agreement is aimed completing the Mesurado Complex and the integration of the Mesurado-Robertsport Cluster.

She told journalists that the complex, when completed, will improve unloading facilities for industrial fishing vessels, space for the development of a fish processing unit, and a pier loading exported fisheries products; while the integration of the Mesurado-Robertsport Cluster will support selected coastal communities with facilities for handling, processing and storing of fisheries products. She also outlined that the project will enable a better logistics and value-chain integration between Robertsport and the Mesurado Fishery Port Complex.

Speaking further, explained that the Africa Catalytic Growth Fund of the World Bank was launched in March 2006 to provide rapid and targeted support to countries with credible programs to accelerate growth, poverty reduction and attainment of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGS).

The World Bank’s International Development Association (IDA), established in 1960, helps the world’s poorest countries by providing grants and low to zero-interest loans for projects and programs that boost economic growth, reduce poverty, and improved poor people’s lives.

The IDA is one of the largest sources of assistance for the world’s 77 poorest countries, 39 of which are in Africa.

A statement from the World Bank said resources from the IDA bring positive change to the 1.3 billion people who live in IDA countries.

“Since 1960,” according to the bank, “IDA has supported development work in 112 countries,” adding that annual commitments have averaged about $19 billion over the last three years, with about 50 percent going to Africa.

Gerald C. Koinyeneh- 0880881540/[email protected]

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