Weah’s US$536m Loan Agreement ‘Sealed’

A day following a public hearing conducted by the Joint Committees on Ways, Means, Finance and Development (MFDP), Public Works (MPW) and Judiciary of the Legislature, the 54th Legislature has finally ratified the Financing Agreement in the amount of US$ 536 Million signed between the Liberian Government and Eton Finance PTE Ltd. of Singapore.
The US$ 536 Million is President George M. Weah’s first major loan since he took over from Ex-President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf in January 2018.
The ratification of the Loan Agreement by members of the Legislature was based on the Joint Committees’ recommendations for its approval during the 34th day sitting of the Legislature.
In its Report, the Joint Committee recommended that the ratification of the Agreement will enable the government to address challenges with respect to the country’s road-network, decentralize the economy and improve the education system.
In pursuant of the Pro-poor Agenda,  the joint Committees stated that road network, under Liberia’s social infrastructure development, will create avenues for citizens’ personal income through agriculture outputs, mainly, farm to market roads, increase in private sector investments, employment, and poverty reduction.
The joint Committees’ recommendations were guided by expert opinions from key stakeholders and Civil Society Organizations during a one-day public hearing on the US$ 536.4 Million Financing Agreement held on Monday, 4 June 2018, in the Joint Chambers of the Capitol Building.
The key witnesses in the public hearing were Public Works Minister Mobutu Nyenpan, Justice Minister who is also Attorney General of Liberia, Cllr. Frank Musah Dean, Deputy Finance Minister Samora Wolokollie and Dr. Lester Tenny, a Professor of Economics at the University of Liberia.
During the hearing on Monday, Public Works Minister Nyenpan, said the Loan will enable the government to construct 505.3km of roads with asphalt pavement in various parts of the country. He said the road construction work will be completed in a four-year period.
The Public Works Minister said Liberia has a total road network of about 12,000km, and less than 1,000km of roads are paved, which constitutes 94% of the roads in the country being unpaved.
He said the roads are unpliable and accident-prone especially during the raining season.
Minister Nyenpan stressed that the Loan will also be used by the government to connect Buchanan-Cestos City-Greenville-Barclayville, the Barclayville-Sasstown, the Barclayville-Pleebo; the Medina-Robertsport and the Tubmanburg-Bopolu by roads.”
He further said there will also be the construction of rest stops and that there will be roadside service areas.
It will also enable government to construct a vocational training center in Greenville, Sinoe County, mini soccer (football) stadiums in Harper, Maryland County; Barclayville, Grand Kru County; Greenville, Sinoe County; Cestos City, River Cess County; Zwedru, Grand GedehCounty; Robertsport, Grand Cape Mount County and Bopolu, Gbarpolu County.
In his presentation to the Legislature, Deputy Finance Minister Wolokollie announced that there will be a 7-year free principal grace period, and beginning 2015; Liberia will begin paying at least US$39m annually.
For his part, Liberia’s Attorney-General, Musa Dean, said the Financing Agreement was duly signed by the Minister of Finance and Development Planning and the Minister of Public Works of the Republic of Liberia, and that the Ministers of Finance and Development Planning and Public Works are authorized by law to execute the Loan/Financing Agreement for and on behalf of the Government of Liberia.
He maintained that all internal procedures, including approvals, consents and authorizations required by the Constitution and laws of the Republic of Liberia for negotiation and signing of the Loan Financing Agreement, have been considered, fulfilled and observed.
Dr. Lester Tenny, a Professor of the University of Liberia in his presentation, said the Loans are intended for infrastructure intervention.
He stated that 10 of the 15 counties roads in Liberia are not paved and the country’s entire road network continues to suffer severe backlogs.
He indicated that infrastructure is an essential ingredient for productivity and growth.
Dr. Tenny said small-scale economic activities of little magnitude are visible in some of these counties but the actual benefits of these huge potentials are not harnessed.
 He further argued that whether the loans to the country pose a risk or a benefit to the people of Liberia, his expert opinion, based on his training as an economist is that the Loans should be approved because developing infrastructure creates avenues from private sector investment, employment creation, and poverty reduction.