AfDB and Liberia Sign USD 56 Million Budget Support and Public Works Grant Agreements
As Bank Establishes Field Office in Monrovia
The Liberian government’s efforts to accelerate economic growth and reduce poverty received a boost on 11th August 2011 with the signing of two USD 56-million (UA 35 million) grant agreements to improve public financial management and infrastructure maintenance capacity in public works.
The agreements, comprising a USD 48-million budget support grant and a USD 8-million supplementary grant for infrastructure, were signed in Monrovia by AfDB Operations Infrastructure, Private Sector and Regional Integration Vice-President, Bobby Pittman and the Liberian Finance Minister, Augustine Kpehe Ngafuan.
Speaking during the event, Vice President Pittman commended the ministry of finance for modernizing Liberia’s public financial management system. In particular, he praised the launch and roll out of Integrated Financial Management Information System (IFMIS), Integrated Tax Administration System (ITAS), and Automated System for Customs Data (ASYCUDA).
Mr. Pittman reiterated Bank’s commitment to support reforms consolidation in public financial management and business enabling environment.
The Economic Governance and Competitiveness Support Program (EGCSP) grant, approved in June, will be disbursed in three tranches between 2011 and 2014. The overarching goal of the program is to accelerate economic growth and reduce poverty through support to financial and economic governance reform. It is designed to:
- Improve fiscal discipline, efficiency and effectiveness of public expenditure;
- Strengthen revenue administration inlcuding transparency and accountability of revenue from the extractive industries;
- Enhance competitive business environment.
For his part, Senator John Ballout of Maryland County who represented communities directly benefiting from the Fish Town-Harper road rehabilitation project, commended the Bank for the renewed support. He expressed the hope that the road would be paved soon.
The supplementary grant will finance capacity improvement activities in the public works ministry and among local contractors and communities, to maintain roads using labor-based methods. The project also promotes women and youth participation in socioeconomic infrastructure maintenance to facilitate diversification of economic activities.
Initiated in December 2007, when the Bank approved a USD 24-million (UA15.24 million) to support a Labor-Based Public Works Project, it is designed to improve productive livelihoods and service delivery in Liberia. The Bank further approved the supplementary grant in June 2011 to enable adequate implementation of the “Capacity Development for Infrastructure Maintenance” component of the Project. It includes rehabilitation of the 125-km Fish Town–Harper Road which is about 70% complete; as well as works on schools and clinics in Maryland and River Gee counties. The labor-based methods employed in the project implementation have been contributing to the reduction of unemployment and poverty in the country through the creation of job opportunities for people in the project area.
The Bank currently supports over 10 projects in 5 major sectors in Liberia, to the tune of over USD 160 million. Notable amongst these are the Economic Governance and Institutional Support Programme (USD 48 million), the Urban Water Supply and Sanitation Project (USD 41.6 million) and the Agricultural Sector Rehabilitation Project (USD 20 million).
Meanwhile, the Bank has reinforced its support to Liberia with the opening of its field office in Monrovia in line with the institution’s decentralization program. The Field Office Resident Representative, Maggie Hilda Kilo presented her letter of appointment to the Liberian government this week. Mrs. Kilo had previously served as the Bank’s Sierra Leone Resident Representative and manager of the Fragile States Unit.