Lawmakers to Approve US$536.4M Loan Thursday

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Lawmakers at yesterday's session greatly anticipating the coming Thursday decision.

Members of the Joint Committee on Ways, Means, Finance and Development Planning and the Judiciary of the 54th Legislature have publicly considered the ratification of the US$536.4 million loan agreement. The lawmakers are expected to report to their respective plenaries for subsequent and simultaneous approval on Thursday, June 8, the Daily Observer reliably learned yesterday.

The Daily Observer has also gathered that the US$536.4 million loan agreement, which was signed between the Eton Finance PTE Limited and the Liberian government, following a strong lobbying from members of the Joint Committee on Ways, Means, Finance and Development Planning and the Judiciary of the House of Representatives and the Senate, including lawmakers from the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) to ensure the loan’s ratification.

At yesterday’s public hearing, Senators Milton Teahjay, Peter Coleman, Morris Saytumah, and Representatives J. Fonati Koffa, Dixon Seboe, Francis Dopoe and Jeremiah Koung were some of the lawmakers, who expressed their support to justify the US$536.4 million loan agreement held in the Joint Chambers yesterday.

The key witnesses including Public Works Minister Mobutu Nyenpan, Justice Minister F. Musah Dean, Deputy Finance Minister SamoraWolokolie and Dr. Lester Tenny, Economics Professor at the University of Liberia, urged the lawmakers to approve the loan agreement.

According to Minister Nyenpan, the loan agreement seeks to enable the government to borrow an amount of US$536.4 million for the purpose of constructing 505.3 kilometers of roads with asphalt pavement in various parts of the country and would be completed in four years.

Nyenpan said statistics reveal that Liberia has a total road network of about 12,000 kilometers, and under 1,000 kilometers of roads paved, whereas 94 percent are unpaved, and most often than not, good for safe travel and accident-prone, especially during the raining season.

He said if the loan agreement is approved, the roads will connect Buchanan-Cestos City-Greenville-Barclayville, Barclayville-Sasstown, Barclayville-Pleebo; Medina-Robertsport and Tubmanburg-Bopolu.

Minister Nyenpan said there will also be the construction of rest stops and roadside service areas; the construction of a vocational training center in Greenville, Sinoe County; the construction of mini soccer (football) stadiums in Harper, Maryland County, Barclayville, Grand Kru County; Greenville, Sinoe County; Cestos City, River Cess County; Zwedru, Grand Gedeh County; Robertsport, Grand Cape Mount County and Bopolu, Gbarpolu County.

Deputy Finance Minister Wolokolie said upon ratification of the agreement, there will be a seven-year free principal grace period before Liberia will begin to pay US$38 million annually.

As for Justice Minister Dean, if the loan financing agreement is duly signed by the Executive, the Minister of Finance and Development Planning and the Minister of Public Works will be authorized by law to execute the agreement for and on behalf of the Government of Liberia.

He maintained that all internal procedures, including approvals, consents and authorizations required by the Constitution and laws of Liberia for the negotiation and signing of the loan financing agreement have been taken, fulfilled and observed.

“We have reviewed the above agreement and have determined that it is consistent with the laws of the Republic of Liberia. We, therefore, respectfully request the Honorable Legislature to proceed to ratify the loan agreement, consistent with Article 34(f) of the 1986 Constitution,” Dean said.

Dr. Tenny said the loan is intended for infrastructure intervention, noting that roads in 10 of the 15 counties are not paved, and the country’s entire road network continued to suffer severe backlog.

“This, therefore, means that any government cannot harness significantly, potential growth corridors in 10 of the 15 counties. Infrastructure is an essential ingredient for productivity and growth. Small-scale economic activities of little magnitude are visible in some of these counties, but the actual benefits of this huge potential are not harnessed,” Dr. Tenny said.

Tenny argued that whether the loan to the country poses a risk or a benefit to the people of Liberia, his expert opinion given his training as an economist is that the loan should be approved, because developing infrastructure creates avenues from private sector investment, employment creation, and poverty reduction require resources.

“The economy will expand and the government will generate more income in the future to repay her loan,” Dr. Tenny said.

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10 COMMENTS

  1. My question regarding ratification of this loan agreement is: Has the proper authority of the Executive branch of government determined how the revenue will be generated when the $38 million dollars repayment is due annually in five years and thereafter? I agree that we do need the facilities for which the loan will facilitate; but I am also concerned about our ability to begin paying these annual payments in five years. Please respond in a professional manner.

  2. The professionals on books just showed avenues of possible repayments through job opportunities to the Liberian people who will also generate funds to internal revenues when they spend for travel on constructed roads, (2) stadiums in various counties when they buy tickets to watch sports games. Do not forget. Vocational training generates technology and prompt also before and after school inventions. For example, Liberians could now produce their own electric stoves to cook on. Also producing our own grade of aluminium. The issue is not paying the loan. Easy to do even before time. Will swift deposits be made in the nation’s coffers to meet the repayment plan or will corrupt officials continue to tamper with accruals, the key to generating public funding? Cash cannot be used to replace public spending. When public loans meet the purpose for which they are credited, the returns are huge enough to pay back government debts. This rationale is in pure Liberian language. Do not reply my box. Tell the Liberian people.
    Gone in silence to silent majority.

  3. There so many ways for these paved highways to pay for the loan and maintenance of themselves if we emulate what developed nations do.one of such ways is to set up toll booths on those highways; wherein cars are charged feeds according to their size for driving on those roads.No matter how small the feeds,they do add up.Space will not allow me to elaborate more ,but I am sure some leaders in government are familar with this idea. Warning: It works very good under a corrupt free government!

    • Toll booths , toll booths . It is 7pm , it is 10pm it is 12am how many vehicles found on the h’ways of recent developed roads for the the toll booths ? Of course there will be sacrifices to be made in some social developmental areas , such as cuts in education, health and perhaps security and others administrative areas . But the legal 38 million US dollars can be met , if only existing loans from the previous regime will not be a problem . The government has chosen inter-counties road developments over the existing problems associated with education, health and security . Controlling administrative corruption could save the nation another five to ten million US dollars every year . All this is up to President Weah . He owns it all .

  4. Now we see what was behind this expensive 30 million dollar “gift”( the aircraft). It is wrong for a leader to accept “gifts” from anyone hoping to exploit the “gift” for commercial or business purposes.

  5. Thanks, ladies and gentlemen of the Legislature, it is a step in the right direction. Transform Liberia into a giant construction site and reconciliation and public safety problems would be half-solved. Because having a reliable source of income from jobs, small business, or whatever makes citizens shareholders in the economy, hence shareholders in the safety and protection of the country. Nobody wants to be a hungry spectator suffering while others are thriving and improving their lives and that of family.

    • A step in the right direction? Provided, that is, the proceeds from this loan will be used for the intended purpose. And Mr. Moses, I have noticed a sharp contrast or reversal in your characteristic government bashing deportment with the emergence of this “Pro-poor” government. Epiphany or utilitarianism? Can’t be the same “nationalist” standard either way. Such just happens to be the bedrock of opportunism!

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