President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf has written the National Legislature to ratify two Loan Agreements, to the tone of US$62.31 million, as additional funding to fight the Ebola virus. She argued that the Loan Agreements would support the government’s effort to address the budget deficit, which has resulted from the epidemic.
The financing agreements are known as the African Development Fund (ADF) Loan Agreement for Ebola Sector Budget and the Transitional States Facility Loan Agreement for the Ebola Sector Budget Support.
In the communication to Speaker J. Alex Tyler dated October 14, 2014, with its reference index EJS/MOSRL/601/2014, the Chief Executive said the country has experienced an economic slowdown owing to the outbreak of the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) with a potential growth rate falling to 2.5% from 5.9% for 2014.
The President stated that the economic activities have drastically declined and there are now shortfalls in domestic food production, mining, hospitality and transportation sectors.
“We have seen the fear of the virus causing adverse behavior that is having a cumulative effect of reduced revenue, while at the same time, there is an expansion in government’s expenditure demands,” the President wrote.
According to the Communication, the ADF Loan Agreement is for UA 35 million, which is approximately equivalent to US$54.25 million, while the Transitional States Facility (TSF) Agreement amounts to UA 5.2 million, approximately US$8.06 million. (UA stands for Unit of Account, which is the official currency of the African Development Bank)
“Mr. Speaker, I ask for ratification of these financing agreements and all other pending credit agreements to create the fiscal space that is urgently needed to fight the epidemic and still continue our development,” the President pointed out.
Initially, with the endorsement of the Legislature, the President has spent US$5 million in the fight against Ebola, and has been critized by some Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) for the handling of Ebola.
The President’s letter coincided with an appeal from Liberia’s Finance and Development Planning Minister Amara M. Konneh and delegation urging officials of the World Bank, International Monetary Fund (IMF) and other development partners, to help mobilize support for the government’s fight against the Ebola epidemic.
Minister Konneh requested to the World Bank and and other development partners to use their convening powers to assist Liberia in raising additional resources to fight Ebola and also to support the country’s economic recovery plan.
For more than a week, Minister Konneh and his delegation, including Central Bank Executive Governor Dr. J. Mills Jones, the president of the Liberia Bank for Investment and Development (LBDI, John B. S. Davies III, Representative Munah Pelham-Youngblood, amongst others, have been in Washington DC working to make Liberia’s case for more support to be provided expeditiously to stop the killer virus and its
Meanwhile,the Plenary of the Honorable House of Representatives has mandated the Committees on Ways, Means and Finance and the Judiciary to review the Credit Agreements to support the Ebola Sector Budget (ESB).
Plenary directed the Committees on Ways, Means and Finance and the Judiciary, chaired by Representatives Emmanuel Nuquay and Cllr. S. GayahKarmoh to advise the Body on these agreements, in a week.
Capitol Hill believed that even though the deadly Ebola virus has crumbled the economy and claimed over 3,000 lives, but President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf’s letter of request for a ratification of the Financing Agreements need critical appraisal and research before supporting the credits.