The Government of Liberia through the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning yesterday signed US$50.8 million "State Building Contract" with the European Union.
The State Building Contract (SBC) is a program which is part of the EU’s co-operation with Liberia, and will provide funds to focus on health services, after the Ebola crisis and supporting justice and security services in anticipation of UNMIL’s drawdown.
Signing on behalf of the European Union, Madam Tiina Intelmann, EU Ambassador accredited to Liberia, said the project is the first of the wider EUR 279M (approx. 315M USD) Liberia-EU multi-year programme that was signed in Brussels in March, during the International Ebola Recovery Conference.
Amb. Intelmann said that the amount represents the Post Ebola Reconstruction and rehabilitation package of EU assistance to Liberia that emerged from the conference.
Minister Konneh said, “We are putting this money directly into the budget so that the Liberian government can use it for the priorities that have been agreed. These priorities include justice and security, health and also decentralization.”
Elaborating on the funding imperatives, she cited the impending drawdown of UNMIL as well as the need to rebuild Liberia’s health systems.
She noted that the funds donated by the EU is direct allocation of money to the budget of Liberia – that is something that not all donors do; “therefore it’s a sign of our confidence that Liberia manages its money well,” she said.
“We encourage the government of Liberia to make a real difference to your people in the use of this money,” the EU Ambassador indicated.
For his part, Mr. Amara Konneh, Minister of Finance and Development Planning, said the signing of the agreement marks the beginning of a long journey to national recovery, adding that it will take a lot of time and resources to get there.
He recalled on April 10, a recovery plan was unveiled to development partners, which include the following priorities: to Jumpstart the economic recovery; build resilient institutions in health and education; water, sanitation and hygiene services to our people and also to strengthen public financial management.
Even though the Liberian government’s stated priorities are quite different from those agreed for funding by the EU, Minister Konneh nevertheless thanked the donors for the support. He recognized the EU as “Liberia’s largest donor supporter, which has put more money directly into our budget that any of our development partners,” he said.
“On behalf of the Government of Liberia, I commit today to make the best possible use of this money which has so generously been donated by European citizens, so it can benefit those who it is intended to reach, the Liberian people, and amongst them those most dependent on basic public services, the poorest and weakest like people in need of health services, protection, women and including the people outside of Monrovia,” he indicated.
Minister Konneh told the EU ambassador that the resources for which there signed for will be use to support and the strengthen health services as well as governance system through decentralization.