-Commissions AFL Deputy COS, 2 Ambassadors
President George Weah has submitted a new Pre-financing Loan Agreement of US$426 million entered into between the Government of Liberia (GoL) and Group EBOMAF to the Legislature for ratification, according to a release from the Executive Mansion. The group EBPMAF from Burkina Faso is reported to have strong ties to ex Burkinabé dictator Blaise Compaore who, according to sources, has long since been suspected of in money laundering activities on behalf of jailed Liberian President Charles Taylor.
Under the Agreement, according to the release, the loan will be financed by EuroBond, redeemable after 15 years, with a five-year grace period and a 10-year interest only on payment.
A eurobond is an international bond that is denominated in a currency not native to the country where it is issued. Also called external bond; “external bonds which, strictly, are neither EuroBonds nor foreign bonds would also include, foreign currency denominated domestic bonds. It can be categorized according to the currency in which it is issued. London is one of the centers of the EuroBond market, with Luxembourg being the primary listing center for these instruments. EuroBonds may be traded throughout the world—for example in Singapore or Tokyo.
The loan, when ratified, will be used for the construction of 256.2 kilometers of paved roads and bridges in Monrovia and major corridors of the interior.
Group EBOMAF, a Burkinabé Civil Engineering Company, will begin pre-financing the road project within three months after the agreement is ratified. The company is, according to sources, owned by Mahamadou Bonkoungou, the businessman and friend who President Weah claims provided the jet plane for his personal use amidst public speculations that the plane was bought by President Weah at a cost of US$30 million.
At this point, it remains unclear whether the proposed pre-financing loan agreement requires the placement by the government of Liberia, of a collateral as a guarantee of payment or a guarantee from the Central Bank. But according to observers, the Central Bank, itself indebted to local banks may find itself hard-pressed to provide such a loan guarantee.
Under the loan scheme, the roads to be constructed upon ratification through this agreement are the Sinkor to Kesselley Boulevard elevated Road, Zwedru to Greenville, Toe Town to Ivorian Border and the Tappita to Zwedru Highway.
With the acquisition of this pre-financed agreement, coupled with the agreement to pave 503 kilometers of roads connecting the coastal cities as well as parts of Western Liberia, President Weah’s administration may be poised to construct more paved roads within his first term as president than the entire kilometers of paved roads that have been constructed by all previous administrations combined within the over 170 years of Liberia’s existence as a sovereign nation.
This is indeed a tall order according to observers and given the huge amounts of public money which have been spent in recent time on many other construction projects which remained uncompleted owing mainly to the misappropriation or misapplication of funds, skepticism runs high about the possible misuse or virtual theft of such funds. A very important point being stressed is whether government officials are going to declare their assets before the acquisition of the loans or after.
Meanwhile this decision, the Executive Mansion release said, has been fully endorsed by the Cabinet and by virtue of it, Liberia stands to gain a great deal of economic growth through jobs creation as well as a significant increase to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), although the statement did not say how many jobs will be created as well as how government intends to create the jobs it says it will create.
In a related development, the president has commissioned Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL) Deputy Chief of Staff (DCOS) and two Ambassadors Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary with the authority to execute their respective duties and functions as representatives of government.
Those commissioned by the president are Brigadier General Geraldine Janet George, DCOS, Edwin Faseyen Sele and Geraldine Bass Golokeh: Ambassadors Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to Egypt and France respectively.
President Weah performed the commissioning ceremony on Friday, June 1, in the Cabinet Room at his Foreign Ministry Office in Monrovia.
Earlier, the Commissioned DCOS George thanked the president for her preferment, while highlighting the challenges associated with her duties, but promised to do her best with the help of the chain of command.
“As a career soldier, a wife and mother, I accept the task with humility. My appointment shows that the AFL is A Force for Good,” said Gen. George, who happens to be the first female officer to serve at the hierarchy of the AFL.
To the Ambassadors, President Weah stated how difficult it is to represent the interest of a sovereign nation, but urged them to perform their duties with diligence in the interest of Liberia.
“You are now Ambassadors of Liberia; you have to do your best to represent the country well,” the president challenged the commissioned officials.
“Make sure your credibility is not at stake. Before we came to power, there were so many things happening at the embassies, you have to change that.” President Weah admonished the officials to always come home to seek counsel from their bosses when there are issues beyond their control.
He then called on them to do their best, though no one does more than his best.
“In the presence of your family members, let me urge you to be your best; there are others who want to be where you are,” the president told the officials.
Amb. Sele thanked President Weah on behalf of his colleague for the confidence reposed in them to represent the country.
Sele hailed President Weah as a “modest leader” who has fathomless love for his people and country, the reason for which he is always admired and why God will bless him to succeed.
According to him, it was not a surprise that the president introduced the pro-poor agenda concept, because he has the Liberian people at the center of his heart.
“I hope the Liberian people will understand, because you mean well for this nation,” Amb. Sele.
“As ambassadors, we are foot soldiers willing to sacrifice to enhance the government’s ‘Pro-poor Agenda,’” he said.
The ceremony was graced by senior government officials, including AFL Chief of Staff General Prince C. Johnson, Defense Minister Daniel Ziahkhan and scores of family members of the honorees.