-World Bank Launches CPF Consultations
For Liberia’s development to be on par or better than its neighbors, the country will need around US$800 million to US$1 billion, according to Finance and Development Planning Minister Samuel Tweah.
Mr. Tweh, who spoke at the launch of the World Bank Group Liberia Country Partnership Framework (CPF), said the government wants to finish the country’s road network so that, “we don’t have the conversation about roads depressing returns in agriculture… To do that, we need around US$800 [million] to US$1 billion. We can’t get that amount from all of our [development] partners — we can get some…”
He added, “I’ve made this argument to the World Bank that Africa’s deficit is so huge in electricity and roads, that unless you address those, there is no real progress for the private sector.” He explained that investors are encouraged primarily by existing infrastructure, especially electricity and roads. “Electricity and roads alone will transform Africa. But the resources [required] to do that cannot be provided by the World Bank, so it’s tough. At the end of the day countries have to go out and find a way — and this is raising the question of debt sustainability.
Tweah was responding to a question from the Daily Observer in reference to the recent loan agreement of US$536 million from Eton Finance, which is before the Legislature for ratification. According to him, the terms “are quite good. We are talking about 0.5 percent from a loan of US$536 million, which is 1.46 percent in seven years interest free and no payment during the gross period,” he said.
Minister Tweah said looking at the grant element, 45 percent is grant and 55 is loan, “so we have to go out there in order to improve on infrastructure space. Debt is challenging, but we are finding a way to resolve that so at the end of the day we believe that those roads will pay us in terms of driving the country to the needed long term growth, because if you don’t check infrastructure, we will come back five years from now and roads will still be a problem for us.”
Nevertheless, he said the government is working along with its development partners in the country to coordinate with all sectors, so that the World Bank Group may take the lead to be able to solve some of the private sector’s related issues.
“For us, the Country Partnership Framework will identify those areas where “we take the lead, but also other specific areas will be led by other development partners,” Mr. Tweah said.
He continued, “The Weah-led government considers the World Bank as one of the trusted partners in the drive to transform the country. The government remains grateful for World Bank support to Liberia.”
Minister Tweah said President Weah remains engaged with the development objectives of Liberia in line with education, agriculture, and the private sector; aligned with World Bank Group objectives to move in the same direction.
The CPF is an opportunity to reset, re-calibrate and to recharge Liberia’s relationship with the WBG, Minister Tweah said. “I have absolutely no doubt that this framework of the World Bank and partners is fully aligned with what the country is doing with its noble plan,” he added.
World Bank Country Director for Ghana, Liberia and Sierra Leone, Dr. Henry Kerali, said the Systematic Country Diagnostic (SCD) is an assessment of key challenges Liberia faces, which has led to the formulation of the Country’s CPF, which defines the Bank’s analytical work and programs of support to Liberia over the next five to seven years.
Dr. Kerali added that the CPF has reached a stage to engage with stakeholders to finalize the CPF draft.
World Bank Liberia Country Manager, Larisa Leshchenko, re-affirmed the Bank’s commitment to Liberia, because the World Bank’s strategy is very much aligned with the Liberian government’s own vision.
“We can work in areas like infrastructure (roads, power supply/distribution/transmission) which will allow the private sector to develop much better, and at the same time strengthen our presence in human development,” she noted.
Madam Leshchenko further said that the World Bank Group’s strategy for Liberia’s Country Partnership Framework is built on three key pillars, including Government Institutional Capacity Building — to strengthen transparency and accountability of the public sector, to create a conducive environment for the private sector; Human Development, considering the mobilization of small grant investment in education through the World Bank Group’s International Development Association (IDA) financed project in education; and Minimizing the divide between rural and urban development, ensuring that all benefits provided by the government will be equally shared throughout the country.
“Some areas are deprived of economic opportunities therefore, the third pillar will bring the country together to have an improved access to services throughout the country,” she said.
The International Finance Corporation’s (IFC) Resident Representative Frank Ajilore said the efficiency and realization of the country’s objectives rely on strengthening institutions around governance establishments, local currency financing on long-term basis, as well as creating market and support windows through funding from conflict-affected states fund.
This, he said, will support job creation and diversification, leading to a productively driven growth with great involvement of the private sector.