The European Commission (EU) has announced an extension of its aid portfolio to Liberia to the tune of €279 million, which is approximately $384.07million, for the period of 2014 – 2020 under the 11th European Development Fund (EDF).
Speaking on behalf of the European Commission in a recent donor’s meeting in Brussels, Belgium, the EU Commissioner for Development, Andris Piebalgs, announced that some US$8.8 billion is expected to support investments that generate growth and job creation for over 300 million citizens of West Africa.
For Liberia, he said the indicative funding is targeted at supporting critical development interventions including energy, education, and state building initiatives.
The European Commissioner, who visited Liberia earlier this year said, “If we had not seen with our eyes, it would have been difficult to believe that Liberia has done so well in governance, infrastructure development and the control mechanics of the National Budget, thus reflecting true transparency and accountability in public resources.”
During the bilateral discussions, both the EU and Liberia agreed that significant parts of this amount will be allocated to the country through budget support (state building contracts), support for the transmission and distribution of energy to increase interconnectivity and access to cheap and affordable energy, and to improve the quality of education at the primary and secondary levels.
Since 2009/2010, the European Union has been providing direct financing to Liberia’s development programs through the “budget support” framework.
Budget support is an evolving aid platform that involves policy dialogue, financial transfers to the national treasury of the partner countries, performance assessment and capacity-building, based on partnership and mutual accountability, the Ministry of Finance said.
This mechanism, according to the Ministry, allows for state oversight and implementation of programs agreed within the scope of the EU aid program.
In the last fiscal budget, the EU provided US$13 million to the government as part of the fiscal budget towards the health sector budget and an additional US$18 million as general budget support.
For this fiscal year, the EU has committed to provide another US$13 million as budget support to the health sector. So far, the EU has provided a total of EUR 52 million in budget support to Liberia, thus making the EU the largest budget support donor to Liberia.
Responding following the Commissioner Piebalgs’ disclosure, Liberia’s Minister of Finance and National Authorizing Officer, Amara M. Konneh, asserted that “Liberia’s forward march to development and economic growth is only going to be a reality if our partners retain confidence in our governance process by allowing more aid and development assistance to be administered through the budget”.
Konneh noted, “I appreciate the continued support of the European Union and its commitment to continue providing its development aid through the National Budget”.
He used the occasion to thank the European Union for its continued support to Liberia’s development, and cited the critical need to render more support to the security sector in view of the impending drawdown of UNMIL.
Minister Konneh also enjoined the EU to continue its support to the broader governance reform by supporting legislative and presidential elections, the rule of law, and other critical areas.
Also, during the meeting, issues around regional integration in the West African region were discussed with officials of ECOWAS, UEMOA and the EU. The EU meeting in Brussels was attended by all National Authorizing Officers/Development Ministers of all West African Countries.