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Government of Liberia and European Union Sign US$64 Million Pact

Min Konneh EU AmbassadorThe Government of Liberia (GoL) represented by the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning in the presence of the Minister of Justice on Monday February 8, 2016, signed two separate financing agreements with the European Union (EU) for projects totaling almost US$64 million.

The signing of the agreements, aimed at revitalizing key sectors of the state, including electricity and institutional capacity in aid management following Liberia’s protracted period of civil unrest and destruction of major infrastructures and lives. EU further confirmed an additional US$34 million in grant funding as part of its support to Liberia’s national budget.

Speaking on behalf of the government of Liberia, during the signing ceremony, the nation’s Finance and Development Planning Minister, Hon. Amara M. Konneh, termed the validation of the two pacts as another milestone in Liberia’s relationship/ productive cooperation with its European partners.
According to an MFDP release, Minister Konneh indicated that the support is a milestone to the government of Liberia which will speedily implement the government‘s five years medium term strategy for speedily economic growth and development, investment increase, cheap electricity that will increase electricity.
He said investment in the energy sector aim at ensuring that power supply becomes cheap, available and affordable to Liberians which would intend makes it easy for local businesses to accrue more profit.
Minister Konneh maintained that the EU intervention will certainly encourage more investors into the country, most especially those who are contemplating bringing in factories but considering the huge cost of running generator and business entities that cannot hire more persons because they cannot produce more goods and provide the needed services and/or contribute to the economy as they should because of limited electricity.
“With cheap electricity and access to that cheap electricity, the key message from the government of Liberia regarding why we prioritized cheap electricity and is investing million dollars in it, is because it can sustain our economy and more. Presently, we got an 8hr power which makes economy productivity low. We need to create employment for our people. When factories can run for 16hrs, more people will get employment. When factories opened beyond 4 O Clock, more people will have jobs. We want to see Liberians pick their bags to go to a place call factory to work and I think we are close to that,” Minister Konneh emphasized.
The release further noted that Minister Konneh disclosed that “This is one major reason why the Monrovia Consolidated grant was signed. The Consolidation of Monrovia Electricity transmission and Distribution project,” stressing, “This assistance will support small businesses, manufacturing institutions and households within the country.”
The Nation’s Finance and development Planning Minister averred that the project will contribute to the reduction of poverty in Monrovia by improving the environmental and socio-economic conditions of the people of Liberia, in line with the government of Liberia’s objective to increase access to renewable energy services and affordable power for community and economic transformation.
“The specific object is to increase access to sustainable and affordable energy in the greater Monrovia area. It is expected that with this support from the EU, we are going to be targeting between 3,000 to 4,000 households. This is significant. It is a game changer,” Minister Konneh intoned.
Minister Konneh in his wisdom appreciated the European Union and Ambassador Intelmann for enhancement of such cooperation. “Let me express appreciation for the good news that the Ambassador has just announced, assuring us of additional, much needed support to our national budget in view of the current challenges brought on by the fall in the price of key commodities, namely rubber and iron ore, and compounded by the outbreak of the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD),” he stated.
One of the major interventions to be made by the EU according to Minister Konneh is the contribution to the National Budget FY 2015/2016 which is currently at a critical stage due to the global financial crisis; fall in the price of key commodities including rubber and iron ore coupled with the outbreak of the Ebola Virus Disease.
According to him, the assurance from the EU to provide additional much needed support to the nation’s budget is welcoming and significantly important to help the nation’s recovered from a 70 million deficit which was notified due to the global financial interruptions.
The general expectation is to improve budget execution, in particular the management of the investment budget; improved budget transparency and accountability,” Minister Konneh maintained.
Earlier speaking, EU’s Ambassador accredited to Liberia, H.E. Tiina Intelmann assured the government of Liberia and its people that the European Union will remain committed to working with the government of Liberia to achieve its aims and objectives as inculcated in the Agenda for Transformation.
“In her recent Annual Address Her Excellency, President of Liberia, Madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf highlighted the importance of a reliable electricity supply. With the signing of the Financing Agreement for the Monrovia Electricity Grid Consolidation project, the EU, together with the Ministry of Lands, Mines and Energy and the Liberia Electricity Corporation, will be able to take an important step in making mains electricity a reality for Monrovia’s residents and businesses,” Ambassador Intelmann intoned.
According to her, the European Union’s decision to increase its budget support in response to Liberia’s request was because the Union recognizes that Liberia’s public finances are under severe strain. “While this additional support will not prevent the need for budget cuts, we hope it will contribute to achieving the government’s agreed objectives under the program: improved economic governance; macro-economic stability; provision and accountability of health, justice and security services, particularly in light of the additional costs associated with the preparations for UNMIL drawdown. I urge the government to undertake efforts to meet all agreed conditions and sector indicators, so that all of the foreseen amounts can be paid into the budget. I also hope that, where necessary, the Legislature will act swiftly to pass any associated legislation,” Ambassador Intelmann maintained.

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