The International Finance Corporation (IFC), a member of the World Bank Group, has announced an agreement with GT Bank Liberia to provide a US$7.5 million liquidity facility to the Bank. The facility, according IFC, will support the importation of basic goods, including energy, food and agricultural commodities, and other manufacturing goods that will help strengthen the Liberian economy following the Ebola crisis. The two parties signed the agreement behind close door last week.
The Ebola Emergency Liquidity Facility (EELF) is a rapid response facility that combines working capital and trade support, to provide US dollar liquidity that will finance import of basic goods in Liberia. This IFC initiative is part of the World Bank Group's broad effort announced recently to provide support during the Ebola epidemic and prepare for economic recovery in the worst Ebola-affected countries of Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea.
"As the Ebola crisis continues, trade and business activity is declining and so we are facing increased liquidity risks" said Dan Orogun, Managing Director, GT Bank Liberia, "IFC, our long term partner, is demonstrating its commitment to development through this timely liquidity facility. Together we hope to ease the pressure on the economy, and give Liberia a hope for recovery."
The primary cost of this tragic outbreak is in human lives and suffering-but the crisis also is wiping out hard-earned development gains in the affected countries, and will worsen already entrenched poverty. Trade has come to a near standstill and most investment is on hold. A World Bank Group report from earlier this month issued an economic update showing the Ebola crisis continues to cripple the economies of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, sharply downgrading growth estimates for 2014 and likely resulting in negative or contracting growth next year.
"Much international and local effort is being channeled towards containing the virus, and IFC is working to bring liquidity that will support businesses through this crisis, and contribute to economic recovery" said Frank Ajilore, IFC Country Representative for Liberia, "The liquidity facility will give a boost to declining trade and improve business activities that will support the recovery of the Liberian economy."
During a recent visit to Liberia, World Bank Group (WBG) President Dr. Jim Yong Kim pledged the Bank’s commitment to providing soft financing for small businesses. Dr. Kim urged the government a people of Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone not sit and wait until the Ebola virus is totally defeated before they engage in economic recovery programs. Dr. Kim has been a strong advocate for concerted global effort to fight and defeat the Ebola epidemic in West Africa.
The World Bank Group is mobilizing nearly US$1 billion in financing for the three countries hardest hit by the Ebola crisis. This includes US$518 million for the emergency response. The funding is helping Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone provide treatment and care, contain and prevent the spread of infections, help communities cope with the economic impact of the crisis, and improve public health systems. IFC aims to deliver at least US$450 million in commercial financing that will enable trade, investment and employment in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.
IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, is the largest global development institution focused exclusively on the private sector. Working with private enterprises in about 100 countries, IFC uses its capital, expertise, and influence to help eliminate extreme poverty and boost shared prosperity. In FY14, IFC provided more than US$22 billion in financing to improve lives in developing countries and tackle the most urgent challenges of development.