Liberian Government Fails Millennium Challenge Corporation Scorecard, Loses Free US$500 In Compact Grant

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MONROVIA – Liberia has again performed dismally in the U.S. Government’s Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) program after it failed 11 of the 20 indicators.

This year’s dismal performance marks the fifth year in a row that the Liberian Government has failed to make a pass in the MCC scorecard, and in the process, missed out on securing a second compact from the MCC – an amount in the tune of at least US$500 million dollars.

A country is considered to “pass” the scorecard if it passes at least 10 of the 20 indicators including the “Control of Corruption indicator” and, either the Civil “Liberties or Political Rights indicator.”

However, just like last year, Liberia only passed nine of the twenty indicators, as released by the MCC in its Fiscal Year 2022 report on Wednesday.

Despite the Government‘s promises, Liberia failed to make any improvement, repeating last year’s years dismal performance by failing in all of the indicators.

They include the “Rule of Law, government effectiveness, trade policy, regulatory quality, inflation, fiscal policy, natural resource, primary education expenditure, and child health and immunization rates.

The nine indicators it passed include political rights, civil liberties, freedom of information, control of corruption, gender in the economy, land rights and access, health expenditures, access to Credit and business start-up.

The MCC and Liberia

The MCC is an independent U.S. foreign aid agency created in 2004 under Republican President George W. Bush to promote economic growth, open markets, and increased living standards in select countries.

MCC applies specific criteria in focusing its work abroad, using indicators regarding countries’ commitment to good governance, economic freedom, and investing in their citizens.

MCC provides selected countries with large-scale grants to fund projects for reducing poverty through sustainable economic growth. These projects include building infrastructure, reforming institutions, and promoting access to healthcare and education. MCC grants may complement other U.S. and international development programs. The MCC utilizes two primary types of grants: compacts and threshold programs.

Compacts are large, 5-year grants for countries that pass MCC’s eligibility criteria; while threshold programs are smaller grants awarded to countries that come close to passing these criteria and are committed to improving their policy performance.

Liberia began benefiting from the MCC in July 2010, with the launched of a three-year, US$15 million threshold grant, which ended in December 2013. Then in January 2016, the MCC and Liberia launched a five-year, US$257 million compact aimed at encouraging economic growth and reducing poverty in Liberia by addressing the inadequate access to reliable and affordable electricity in the country and poor quality of road infrastructure. Bulk of the money was spent towards resuscitating the Mt. Coffee Hydro power Plant. The compact was completed in January of 2021.

Weah’s Compact Curse

Since its inception in 2017, the current administration under President George Weah, has been opting to secure a second compact. This latest MCC report is again a major setback in the country’s quest to re-enlist as expectations were high for a positive outcome this year.

Following the release of last year’s report, Liberia’s Finance and Development Planning Minister Samuel D. Tweah expressed optimism that the nation will perform greatly under the MCC program this year.

He told the Liberia News Agency the country has made significant strides to ensure that it pass if not all but most of the indicators on the MCC scorecard in the future.

He pointed out that for this to happen, more attention needed to pay towards addressing the indicators that are mainly judged from an intangible standpoint.

“We are undoubtedly going to pass next year,” Tweah emphasized, while refuting widespread rumors that failing the MCC scorecard is an indication that the country is losing revenue.

“Different entities have to pay attention to the policy space, it is not just about doing something it is about doing something that has an impact on multiple variables that the bureaucrats in the ministries and everybody have to pay attention to.”

Not only Minister Tweah was upbeat about Liberia’s prospect this year.

Speaking in his monthly press roundtable after the release of the 2021 MCC Scorecard in November at the U.S. Embassy near Monrovia, Ambassador McCarthy commended Liberia for scoring well in some of the indicators that other countries struggled to pass, including political rights, civil liberties, and freedom of information.

However, Ambassador McCarthy urged the country to redouble its efforts in strengthening area of governance identified in the scorecard to stand a better chance to be awarded a second MCC Compact.

 “We urge Liberia to redouble its efforts to strengthen areas of governance identified in the scorecard, with particular focus on taking concrete steps to combat corruption sustainably increasing the overall number of indicators passed,” he said.

Back then, he said, at the Weah administration’s urging, the Legislature has passed some ‘excellent’ legislations devolving power out to the counties, and down to the municipal level. Actual Level implementation of that new funding approach would go a long to increasing transparency and responsiveness in government funding.

He added: “Not only would concrete gains in combatting corruption greatly improve Liberia’s chance of being awarded a second chance MCC Compact, it would be low-hanging fruit for demonstrated progress towards pledged goals in this year’s Summit for Democracy.”

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