(LINA) – A US$12 million loan agreement signed between Liberia and the Arab Bank for Economic Development in Africa has been submitted by President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf to the National Legislature for ratification.
President Sirleaf, in a communication to the legislature on Tuesday, said the purpose of the loan agreement is to generate financing for the rehabilitation of the Gbarnga-Salayea road.
Proceeds of the loan, according to President Sirleaf, would supplement amounts being requested from other financing institutions to develop and pave the existing gravel road of around 81 kilometres that connects Bong and Lofa Counties as well as to improve accessibility and reduce travel costs for residents of the affected counties.
The Liberian leader noted that the government shall pay interest at the rate of one percent per annum on the principal amount of the loan withdrawn and outstanding.
She said interest and other eventual charges shall be paid semi-annually, while the date of payments will be fixed on the basis of the first day of the month following the first withdrawal from the loan account.
President Sirleaf noted that government shall repay the principal amount of the loan in 40 semi-annual installments as contained in the agreement after a grace period of ten years, which is to be calculated from the first day of the month following the first withdrawal from the loan account.
President Sirleaf is, meanwhile, seeking the indulgence of the legislature to ratify the agreement, considering the nation’s urgent need to develop, expand and integrate Liberia’s road networks, thereby reducing travel time and cost.
It can be recalled that President Ellen Sirleaf on March 10 submitted to the Legislature for ratification a US$20 million loan agreement between the Government of Liberia and OPEC Fund for International Development (OFID).
The loan agreement, according to the Liberian leader, which was created by the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning, was also intended to generate partial financing for the upgrading of the Gbarnga-Salayea road.
In a related development, Bong County Senator Jewel Taylor has submitted to the Liberian Senate for enactment a draft bill seeking to grant financial autonomy to the National Legislature.
The bill entitled, “An Act Granting Financial Autonomy to the Legislature,” when ratified will grant the Legislature an authority similar to that of the Executive and Judiciary branches of government to exercise autonomy, thus experiencing leverage, latitude and decisiveness in decision-making and program implementation.
The Bong County Senator highlighted in the draft bill, which was submitted to the Senate plenary on Tuesday, that under the current financial administrative arrangement the Legislative branch of government is being subjected to bureaucratic processes which impede the smooth administration of the Legislature.
When ratified, the bill will also grant each House of the Legislature the power to maintain a finance section headed by a Director of Finance who will work in consultation with the head of the secretariat of both Houses for the efficient administration of the Legislative budget as enshrined in the bill.
Among other provisions as contained in Section Four of the draft bill, the Director of the Legislative Budget will be assisted by the Directors of Finance of both Houses of the Legislature in submitting the budget of the Legislature to the Bureau of the Budget, and shall ensure its inclusion in the structure of the national budget within the context of said national budget.
When passed in its current form, the bill will also grant the right to the leadership of any of the two Houses of the Legislature to subject its books of accounts to an audit by an independent auditor who is a member of the Liberia Institute of Certified Public Accountants.
This provision, according to the structure of the draft bill, is without prejudice to the authority, rights and duties of the General Auditing Commission.
Meanwhile, the Senate has constituted a three-member committee, chaired by Sinoe County Senator Joseph Nagbe, with the mandate to do a thorough evaluation of the bill and advise the body on Thursday.