World Bank Country Manager, Inguna Dobraja has reaffirmed the Bank’s commitment to closely work with the Government of Liberia in the successful implementation of the Bank’s Country Partnership Strategy for Fiscal year 2013-2017, which was designed together with the Government to support the country’s Agenda for Transformation (AfT).
Ms. Dobraja made the statement on Monday, June 17, during the officially opening of World Bank new office at the German Embassy compound in Congo Town.
She said: “It is indeed a great honor for us all to be celebrating the opening of a new office today for the World Bank. This simple and fine architectural gem represents more than a place of work for our staff and a meeting place for our varied in-country partnerships.”
“In all of its granite, aluminum and concrete solidity; in its eerie resonance of Monrovia’s architectural vernacular and landscape; and in its pleasing proportions, this cluster of buildings is more than fitting physical projection of the World Bank Group’s commitment to the long term and strategic partnership with Liberia. We are here to stay and be a good partner for as long as it takes,” she noted.
She said that infrastructure carries a huge pay stub and the involvements of other development partners in addressing the infrastructure challenges have been pivotal. “In this regard, I would like to commend the Liberia Reconstruction Trust Fund (LRTF) for their support to Liberia’s infrastructure agenda. As perhaps all of you know, the LRFT is a multi-donor trust fund for infrastructure, which is supported by contributions from the European Union, and the governments of Great Britain, Sweden, Ireland, Norway and Germany, and the World Bank.”
“The LRTF is administered by the World Bank and it is supervised by an Oversight Committee comprising the ministries of Finance and Public Works, Development Partners, and the World Bank. Let me also commend your Government, Honorable Minister Ngafuan for the very evident progress you have made in the intervening years in executing your infrastructure rehabilitation and investment agenda. “
According to her, the World Bank will remain engaged with Liberia in supporting economic growth and poverty reduction. “This commitment was manifested in our current Country Partnership Strategy for Liberia spanning 2013-2017, which we have closely aligned with Liberia’s Agenda for Transformation (AfT).”
She further said, “This Strategy focuses on financing investments in infrastructure, especially energy and transport, along with building the human and institutional capacity necessary to deliver results.”
She said over the time, the World Bank has seen strong growth in the size and depth of its program in Liberia – a growth that was foreseen after the country’s successful completion of the HIPC process in 2010.”
The building, Ms. Debraja said, was originally built at a time when Liberia was in the forefront of West Africa in such areas as provision of health care, rice production and cutting edge iron ore production. It was built for a German company, Bong Mining Company that was operating in Bong Mines in Bong County.
“We actually took possession at the beginning of this year and, as expected, it has taken several months to complete the finishing touches, including developing the gardens and green spaces of this beautiful compound. I am happy to report that we are now fully operational and have the pleasure to see many of you here for meetings and other events,” she disclosed.
She also lauded chief architect, Ms. Christian Furler and her team as well as the ADI Contractors who did the renovation works. “I will also like to express our appreciation to our many Bank colleagues, both here and in Washington, who have worked tirelessly to make this new office a reality. Special thanks to Mrs. Maria Ponce de Leon who is the Bank’s architect in charge of this project.”
Also speaking, Foreign Minister Augustine K. Ngafuan said the establishment of a new and better Office Complex in Liberia by the World Bank represents a huge vote of confidence in Liberia’s future.
By this,“You the WB has joined others including the British Government that last year reopened its Embassy in Liberia with a resident Ambassador after almost two decades of closure. He also said other countries including Sweden, Qatar and Brazil, amongst others, opened their embassies near Monrovia.
Acknowledging the World Bank contribution to Liberia, Minister Ngafuan said the movement of the World Bank’s Country Office from Mamba Point considered as the diplomatic enclave, to Oldest Congo Town far away from the diplomatic enclave and the center of the city testifies to the ever deepening stability and security that Liberia has been experiencing for a little over ten consecutive years.
According to him, World Bank was the biggest partner that assisted in crafting Liberia’s development frameworks – the IPRS and the PRS, and the recent Vision 2030 and its five-year slice – the Agenda for Transformation.
Moreover, the Foreign Minister said the Bank was also a key player followed by the IMF in driving Liberia through the HIPC debt relief process which eventually saw Liberia being unshackled from itsUS almost 5 billion dollars debt burden. Furthermore, the Bank contributed half of the funds which enabled the Liberian Government to clear commercial debts of over 1billion dollars through debt buy-backs.
The Bank has contributed to the rebuilding of critical infrastructure including the paving of Monrovia’s streets under URIRP Project, support to the Monrovia City Corporation under the Emergency Monrovia Urban Sanitation project (EMUS) that provides solid waste services.
Meanwhile, Liberia joined the World Bank in 1962, becoming its 75th member. The country later received its first funding to finance the construction of two new roads, including the highway from Monrovia to the Roberts International Airport, and financing for equipment and materials to maintain Liberia’s entire road system.