Liberia’s Finance and Development Planning Minister Amara M. Konneh and delegation have concluded constructive country-level discussions with the officials of the World Bank, International Monetary Fund (IMF) and other development partners, aimed at mobilizing support for the government’s fight against the Ebola epidemic.
In conversations with the World Bank, Konneh requested that the institution and other development partners use their convening powers to assist Liberia in raising additional resources to fight Ebola and also to support the country’s economic recovery plan.
For more than a week, Minister Konneh and his delegation, including Central Bank Executive Governor Dr. J. Mills Jones, the president of the Liberia Bank for Investment and Development (LBDI, John B. S. Davies III, Representative Munah Pelham-Youngblood, amongst others, have been in Washington DC working to make Liberia’s case for more support to be provided expeditiously to stop the killer virus and its destructive impacts on the nation.
The delegation articulated clearly that Liberia was looking for new avenues of support to fight Ebola and deal with probable associated economic and social issues. The Liberian Team requested bilateral and multilateral partners to not re-program existing commitments but rather provide injection of new funds.
Minister Konneh said the discussions were fruitful and Liberia was able to make a strong case for the World Bank to provide additional assistance following the provision of US$52 million of crisis funds last month.
“We are aiming to raise around $50 million dollars as direct support and we hope our key projects will be accelerated, including work on the Redlight to Gbarnga road, and feasibility studies on the Ganta to Tappita road.”
Minister Konneh also met with the Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Raj Shah, who assured him that every support will be provided to help stop the transmission of Ebola.
Discussions were also held with the Millennium Challenge Corporation over a possible funding window that could be harnessed to accelerate Liberia’s economic stabilization and recovery.
Discussions with the IMF focused on additional support beyond the recent US$48 million dollars under the Extended Credit Facility program to be channeled through the Central Bank of Liberia.
Representations were also made for additional commitments under the Rapid Credit Facility (RCF).
The Managing Director of the IMF, Madam Christine Lagarde, suggested to her colleagues that there is a need for more budgetary support for Liberia as short-term spending is critical during these difficult times.
In the United States, Minister Konneh consummated a deal worth US$27 million dollars with the European Investment Bank (EIB) for the rehabilitation of the Roberts International Airport runway. EIB also expressed willingness to work together on future pipeline projects.
In meeting with the Swedish International Development Office, Minister Konneh pleaded with the Swedes to increase their support to Liberia, beyond the US $10 million dollars committed through International Non-Governmental Organizations.
In a related development, the International Finance Corporation (IFC) has agreed to provide an immediate injection of roughly US$15 million to the banking sector for trade financing.
The IFC is also actively exploring ways to provide financing to small businesses, particularly in the Agriculture sector.