By Bridgett Milton
The Liberian Government delegation to the 2013 annual meetings of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in Washington DC has concluded with various high-level meetings, geared towards accelerating infrastructure development in Liberia.
According to a press release, this year’s Annual Meetings were meant to follow up on the Agenda for Transformation which also took place last year.
The meetings, which also included officials from the Ministry of Finance, Public Works and the Central Bank of Liberia, took stock of progress made on targets set in Tokyo (Japan) and Washington D.C. in 2012 and this year respectively, with particular focus on infrastructure including energy and roads.
The delegation was headed by Finance Minister Amara M. Konneh, accompanied by Central Bank Governor Dr. Mills Jones, Public Works Minister Antoinette Weeks, Montserrado County District #8 Representative and member of the Legislative Committee on Banking and Currency, Munah Pelham Youngblood, and the President of the Liberia Bank for Development and Investment, John B.S. Davis.
While in Washington D.C., the Liberian delegation participated in many high-level meetings including one with the World Bank Vice President Maktar Dio, the IMF Country Team, IMF Director and Deputy Director (reviewer for Liberia) for Africa; US Secretary of the Treasury Jack Lew on Power Africa; the European Investment Bank; the Kuwaiti Fund on Gbarnga-Menikoma Highway; the African Caucus meeting; IMFC Meeting with the IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde; the African Group 1 Panel and Constituency; Citi Bank Group on power and port financing in Liberia; AfriEXIM Bank President etc.
During the high-level meeting with the World Bank Vice President Maktar Diop, Minister Konneh highlighted progress made on Liberia’s effort towards achieving a vision for sustainable growth and development particularly investing in infrastructure, with special emphasis on the rehabilitation of the energy sector, roads and ports.
He advocated for the reallocation of unused International Development Association [IDA] 16 resources to Liberia and an increase in IDA 17 allocation for Liberia when the Bank replenishes it in December, emphasizing that Liberia, which is currently implementing a robust economic transformation strategy, required more financial and technical support towards the successful implementation of Liberia’s ambitious development agenda, the Agenda for Transformation. IDA report say “promote sustainable development in poor countries.”
Konneh particularly stressed the urgent need for assistance in the infrastructure sector, including the energy sector particularly transmission and distribution, capacity building to help the Government of Liberia separates the regulatory and utility management functions of the energy sector through capacity building on procurement to roll out a comprehensive automated procurement system linked to the Integrated Financial Management System (IFMIS) across government that will reduce corruption, ensure contract management and a speedy implementation of the various infrastructure projects.
He also made a passionate push for support to address the unemployment situation in Liberia by providing more support to youth employment to skills program currently being implemented to address skills and unemployment issues.
The Finance boss pleaded with the Bank for financial support towards funding the gap in the resettlement action plan (RAP) to reimburse those who are in the right of way for all of Liberia’s current infrastructure projects.
In his response, the World Bank VP Diop promised the Bank’s commitment to assist Liberia in removing the impediments which were in the way, thus fast-tracking infrastructure development in the country.
With funding from multilateral and bilateral institutions currently being sought, it is expected that various road projects including the Somalia Drive, Red Light to Ganta-Guinea Boarders, as well as the construction of a new bridge in Caldwell will be accelerated. It is also expected that works could commence as early as this dry season. Construction has already begun on the flagship Paynesville to Ganta Highway’s pavement.###New Dawn