Remarks by Augustine K. Ngafuan at Opening of World Bank Country Office

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Mr. Yusupah Crookes
Country Director
World Bank Liberia Country Office;
Madam Inguna Dobraja
World Bank Liberia Country Manager;
Honorable Amara Konneh
Minister of Finance Republic of Liberia;
Members of the Diplomatic Corps;
Representatives of International Organization;
Executives and Representatives of Banking Institutions:

Communicating progress in our society can sometimes be a difficult challenge, especially in a largely unsophisticated society such as ours.  In such an environment indicators such as GDP growth or some other complex indicators do not avail much in driving home the point to John Q. Public that progress is being made. But interestingly our people react more positively to tangibles such as construction and pavement of roads, the construction of hospitals, clinics, schools, office buildings, etc. This is explains why the Liberian people in their generality were elated when they witnessed the dedication of the new NASSCORP building at ELWA Junction and reacted similar to scores of previous dedication ceremonies that have seen, in less than ten years, new and glistening structures sprout up on Tubman Boulevar an area once  known for its ram-shackle, bullet-ridden, paint-starved structures.

Today we come to cut the ribbons to the new facility that will house the country offices of the World Bank in Liberia. Ribbons are usually not cut to retrogression; they are cut to signify progress and forward march.  In this case, the progress of  transitioning from a smaller and crammed facility at Mamba Point to a bigger and better facility in Oldest Congo Town.

So on behalf of H. E. Mrs. Ellen Johonson Sirleaf, President of the Republic of Liberia who could not attend this ceremony due to prior competing engagement, I want to extend the fullest appreciation of the Government and people of Liberia to the Country Manager of the World Bank , Mrs. Inguna Dabraja, and  through her, to the Country Director as well as the entire Management of the World Bank for this significant development.

Ladies and Gentlemen:
This ceremony is significant in many respects.  Firstly, the establishment of a new and better Office Complex in Liberia by the the World Bank represents a huge vote of confidence in Liberia’s future. By this you the WB has joined others including the British Government that last yearreopened its Embassy in Liberia with resident Ambassador after almost two-decade of closure as well as Sweden, Qatar and Brazil, among others.

Secondly, the movement of the World Bank’s Country Office from Mamba Point, considered the diplomatic enclave, tof Oldest Congo Town   far away from the diplomatic enclave and the center of the city testifies to the ever deepening stability and security that Liberia has been experiencing for a little more than ten consecutive years.. That diplomatic missions and international organizations can choose to have their offices in areas like Sinkor, Congo Town and elsewhere is is a strong testimony l to the enormous progress that is being made everywhere in Liberia.

Madam Country Manager, Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,
It will be absolutely impossible to   talk about Liberia’s progress under this regime without dedicating at least a chapter to the critical and pivotal contribution of the World Bank. The World Bank has been with us from the time from the very beginning and has remained a friend indeed to Liberia through thick and thin. In those difficult years of the start of the regime, the WB assisted us through many and various interventions aimed at building the capacity of the government and responding to the ever growing aspirations of the Liberian people. The World Bank was the biggest partner that that assisted us in crafting our development frameworks – the IPRS and the PRS, and the recent Vision 2030 and its five-year slice – the Agenda for Transformation. Besides helping to craft our development frameworks, the World Bank has been one of our biggest donors, funding critical interventions in practically all sectors of our country.. Moreover, the Bank was a key player followed by the IMF in driving Liberia through the HIPC  debt relief process which eventually saw Liberia being unshackled from itsUS  almost 5 billion dollars debt burden. Furthermore, the Bank contributed half of the funds which enabled the Liberian Government to clear commercial debts of over a 1billion dollars through debt buy-backs.

The Bank has contributed to the rebuilding of critical infrastructure  including the paving of  of Monrovia’s streets under URIRP Project, support to the Monrovia City Corporation under the Emergency Monrovia Urban Sanitation project (EMUS) which provided solid waste services and increased the volume of waste collected and disposed daily from less than thirty percent of the generated waste to more than forty-five  percent.

As a former Minister of Finance who co-chaired along with the Country Manager of the WB, the Liberia Reconstruction Trust Fund (LRTF), I would be remiss if I did not recognize the magnificent role the World Bank has played in  administering the LRTF that has attracted huge amounts of donor funding to finance Liberia’s infrastructure program. It is through the funding from the LRTF that the Monrovia-Gbarnga; Gbarnga-Ganta-Guinea borde highway is being funded..

Tthe reconstruction of the Vai Town/Chief Zulu Domah Bridge, the Monrovia-Buchanan highway which is perhaps one of the best in the country, are among an endless list of infrastructural interventions funded by the World Bank for which we remain eternally grateful. These infrastructural projects not only brought ease of transportation and a sense of decency but also helped to jumpstart the country’s social and economic development and create the basis for economic expansion.

In the area of economic governance, the Bank has demonstrated forthrightness in its sponsorship to the Public Financial Management Unit at the Ministry of Finance and the Financial Management Training Program,s a quadripartite arrangement among the World Bank, Civil Service Agency, the University of Liberia and the Ministry of Finance respectively, that builds efficient capacity to man Liberia’s financial institutions.  The automation of public financial management processes, especially the introduction of the much-touted IFMIS system could not have come without the generous assistance and guidance of te World.

I can never exhaust the list of positive contributions of the WB to Liberia’s development, for it is endless. Since Liberia’s reengagement with the World Bank Group in December 2007 after nearly two decades of sanctions, the confidence and mutual trust that characterize our relationship continue to wax stronger.

Madam Country Manager, Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,

Madam Country Manger,
Looking into the future and now that you have a bigger and better working environment, , we trust that the scope, scale, and quality of World Bank engagements in Liberia will grow to the benefit of the Liberian people.

Let me  congratulate the distinguished and farsighted leadership of Dr. Jim Yong Kim (12th President of the World Bank Group) who has dedicated himself to working for international development and endeavoring to transform the lives of under-served people worldwide. Let me as well congratulate you Madam Country Manager and your predecessor Dr. Ohene Owusu Nyanin with whom I enjoyed very close personal and professional relationship while I served as Minister of Finance as well as all of the hardworking staff of the World Bank Country Office.
May God the World Bank for all its numerous contributions to Liberia. I thank you.

CUTTING OF RIBBON
Madam Country Manager, Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, on behalf of H.E. Mrs. Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, President of the Republic of Liberia and the government and people of the Republic Liberia I cut these ribbons to the World Bank’s new Country Office as a testament to the World Bank Group’s vote of confidence in Liberia’s post-conflict recovery process and entertain high optimism for our continued and increased future partnership.

Thank You.

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