Liberia: President Weah Demands Paradigm Shift in MCC After ‘Disappointing’ Scorecard
Monrovia – Liberian President George Manneh Weah says while he is not disappointed with the below par performance of Liberia in the just-released Millennium Challenge Corporation Scorecard, out Friday, there is a strong need for a paradigm shift in the way the scores are given countries under the MCC. “We need a paradigm shift in the MCC,” the President said Friday as he broke ground Friday for the US$18 million raw water pipeline at White Plains.
The 48-inch diameter pipeline is part of the energy project under the Millennium Challenge Corporation(MCC) Compact of Liberia.
‘I Have Hope’ – President Weah
President Weah, who was informed of Liberia’s performance Friday, said: “Am I disappointed? No! I’m not disappointed in the MCC but I have hope because I believe the MCC is a good thing for Liberia and it can help us. But we need a paradigm shift, so we can work together so, at least our passing grade can be of use to us.”
The President prevailed on the United States government to work with Liberia to improve its score. “I did not go to university to stay in school for the rest of my life – that’s why I was doing homework and what have you. So, if we get homework to do and we have courses to take, please give us the extra study class and let teachers be there, so we can make an effort.”
While expressing satisfaction for US assistance, the President suggested that America’s presence was not being felt in Liberia. “I want to thank you for your effort, I want to thank you for your understanding, I want to thank you for your support. We are partners in progress, government in and out. America is our partner and we need to feel the presence of America in this country. We need to see your companies that made you great country, we need to see them here. If it means that we will get all American companies in this country for Liberia to succeed then we will do it. But we must be fair with each other, we must work together for the benefit of our both countries.”
Sierra Leone Gets a Pass
In next door Sierra Leone Friday, United States Ambassador Maria Brewer met with President Julius Maada Bio and offered her congratulations to Sierra Leone on the occasion of passing the 2020 Millennium Challenge Corporation – MCC Scorecard.
Ambassador Brewer stated, “I am pleased to congratulate the Government of Sierra Leone on passing the 2020 MCC Scorecard. In many significant areas, including Girls Primary Education Completion Rates and Control of Corruption indicators, Sierra Leone made significant progress. We will continue to work closely and cooperatively with the Government of Sierra Leone on our continued successful partnership, which includes the current US$44 million MCC Threshold Program.”
The MCC country scorecard for 2020 released Friday, uses the scorecard to qualify countries for MCC Compact.
The MCC Scorecard measures a country’s performance in three key areas: economic freedom, ruling justly, and investing in its people. Countries have to pass 10 of 20 indicators and must pass the Control of Corruption indicator to become eligible. Liberia passed the control of corruption indicator this year, but significant work is needed across Government and wider society regarding public perception of corruption.
Liberia Eligibility Not Affected, Nagbe Says
Information Minister Lenn Eugene Nagbe, in a statement Friday said, the current scores will not affect Liberia’s Compact eligibility, which will be based on next year’s scorecard and stressed that the government is challenged to work to improve in a whole set of areas.
Said Minister Nagbe: “Last year Liberia passed 8 out 10 indicators. This year Liberia scores the same 8 out of 10 indicators but there have been some movements.”
“I did not go to university to stay in school for the rest of my life – that’s why I was doing homework and what have you. So, if we get homework to do and we have courses to take, please give us the extra study class and let teachers be there, so we can make an effort.”President George Manneh Weah
The minister said, last year for example, Liberia passed inflation but failed Health Care Expenditure. However, this year Liberia failed inflation but passed Health care expenditure. “The rise in inflation took Liberia above the median score of its peers. Passing the Healthcare spending this year keeps Liberia at 8 out of minimum 10 indicators needed to pass.”
Minister Nagbe said the Government believes there are significant opportunities for Liberia to improve its MCC Scorecard performance for FY 2021. “The Government is working to ensure that ownership of the eligibility process is achieved at the highest levels of Government so that the right data can be reported in time to reflect the right performance of the country.”
Government Doing Everything Possible
Minister Nagbe said the government is doing everything possible to increase its score next year. “Liberia looks to pass the Gender in the Economy Indicator next year. The passage of the Domestic Violence Law in August of 2019 was not reflected in this year’s score because the passage came late. It will affect next year’s score. Liberia also did not get credit for the protection contained in Liberia’s Decent Work Act of 2015, which prohibits sexual harassment in the workplace. The Government is committed to ensuring next year’s scores fully reflect these gains, which will put Liberia above the median score. With these key legal protections and progress made towards gender equality, the Government strongly believes Liberia will pass this indicator for FY21.”
Looking to Pass Rule of Law Next Time
The minister also noted that Liberia looks to pass the rule of law indicator because the country is just at the margin on this. “Even on the World Bank’s ease of doing business indicator, the rule of law indicator shows no movement between last year and this year. The Government is working closely now with the Judiciary to resolve long standing contract enforcement and rule of law issues as a way of improving the business climate. Chief Justice Francis Korkpor himself has taken the lead to resolve these longstanding issues, setting up a panel of judges and experts to work with the Government and the Liberia Bar Association to deliver improvements in the country’s business and investment climate.”
Additionally, Minister Nagbe explained that Liberia will push to pass the Education Expenditure Indicator next year. “Liberia has also increased Government expenditure to the education sector over the past two years. In addition to ensuring teachers not previously paid are put on Government payroll, Government has also increased teachers’ salaries over the past year. Government also continues to make direct contributions to public and private schools and other education initiatives.
The Government is reviewing data quality to ensure the correct data is reported to the relevant third-party institution so that Liberia’s score for the Government expenditure on education reflects Government’s actual spending and commitment to the education sector.”