The World Bank (WB) Executive Board of Directors have approved a US$40 million International Development Association (IDA) grant for Liberia to help address governance reforms and human capital development in the country.
World Bank Country Manager for Liberia, Larisa Leshchenko, who spoke yesterday at a quarterly media dialogue with journalists held in Congo Town, said the Third Poverty Reduction Support Development Policy Operation (PRSDPO-III) grant, which includes US$8 million from the IDA Crisis Response Window (CRW), will support government’s strong policy efforts to adjust to the twin shocks of the Ebola crisis and the slump in commodity prices.
“We are pleased to inform you that Finance and Development Planning Minister Boima Kamara and I signed the agreement to enable the operation to become effective. This operation will strengthen governance, with particular emphasis on transparency and accountability, as well as budget execution and oversight. It will address key constraints to growth, including electricity, and improve human capital development, particularly through improved access to education and health,” Ms. Leshchenko said.
She said the poverty reduction grant agreement is the third in a series of four operations and that Liberia has developed a good track record of undertaking difficult and challenging reforms.
These reforms, according to her, are crucial for helping to create the enabling environment for the transformation of the economy and the improvement of lives.
Reforms on governance, she said, will also help to create a more transparent government, limit corruption, and raise the confidence of citizens and investors.
Addressing the lack of electricity, she said lowering its price “helps to increase access to both residential and business customers, thereby not only providing more light for children to study by at night, but also facilitating the development of the manufacturing sector, including the agro-industry.”
Additionally, Ms. Leshchenko informed journalists that the WBG and the Liberian government signed a US$4.2 million grant of the bank’s Africa Catalytic Growth Fund to support the completion of key construction of the West Africa Regional Fisheries Program in the country, including the completion of the Mesurado Fish Complex and the integration of the Mesurado-Robertsport Cluster.
“We like to reiterate that the process of developing a new Country Partnership Framework (CPF) for Liberia has started,” she added.
Explaining further, she said the CPF will guide the bank’s engagement with Liberia over the next three to five years and the bank will work towards engaging with various stakeholders, including the media, to get inputs.
These inputs, the World Bank Manager said, will be important to the development of the CPF, which will assist the bank to identify constraints to poverty reduction and shared growth, adding that the WB considers the media an important partner in working towards achieving these goals and objectives.
Meanwhile, Program Leader Errol Graham said “This operation will help the Government of Liberia to strengthen governance with particular emphasis on transparency and accountability. It will also address key constraints to growth, including electricity, and will help mitigate the commodity price shocks.”
He said the grant will also strengthen the weak infrastructure, which is critical for achieving inclusive growth in Liberia.