The European Union (EU) Commission has approved the disbursement of EUR 29.2 million (approx. US$31 million) of direct budget support to the Government of Liberia under the Liberia-EU “State-Building Contract” to help with the country’s recovery programs.
The aim of this first payment under the new budget support programme, according to a release, is to contribute to the implementation of Liberia’s Agenda for Transformation (AfT) and the National Recovery Plan (NRP) notably in the areas of health, socio-economic recovery after the Ebola crisis and public finance management (PFM).
The disbursement, the release said, is part of and follows the EU’s 450M pledge of support for the recovery of the three most affected Ebola countries, of which EUR121 million for Liberia, was made at the High Level International Ebola Recovery Conference on July 10 in New York.
In a letter accompanying the payment, the EU recognised the government’s efforts and progress accomplished despite the Ebola virus epidemic and the related crisis and socio-economic consequences.
The EU also expects that the gradual return to a stable situation will allow for the intensification of the implementation of the PFM reform strategy, the letter states.
It further stresses the importance of improving the capacity of key ministries to undertake public procurement according to national rules and regulations and avoid irregularities such as those unveiled last year in the Ministry of Public works.
The EU encourages reinforced budget transparency, in particular timely and exhaustive in-year budget implementation reports and further encourages the Government to settle any pending issues for the conclusion of the fourth review of the IMFs economic programme under the Extended Credit Facility (ECF).
Regular budget support dialogue to identify and address issues of concern and channel support to government as necessary are expected to be resumed.
The programme’s focus during the coming months, including dialogue, conditions related to the next payment and support activities will focus on public finance management, improved justice and security services and accountability, including equitable access to justice for remote or marginalized populations during the process of UNMIL withdrawal.
The EU’s total financial contribution to date to fight the Ebola epidemic is over EUR1.8 billion. This amount includes previous funding from the EU Member States and the European Commission as well as the European Commission’s new pledge of EUR450 million announced at the UN’s International Ebola Recovery Conference in July.