World Bank Country Manager’s Remarks At Signing Ceremony of Financing Agreements for World Bank Funded Programs in Liberia

Friday, June 18, 2021

  • The Rural Economic Transformation Project (RETRAP)
  • The Southeastern Corridor Road Asset Management Project (SECRAMP)
  • The Second Inclusive Growth Development Policy Operation (IGDPO-2)

The Minister of Finance and Development Planning, Hon. Samuel D. Tweah Jr,

The Minister of Agriculture, Hon. Jeanine Cooper

The Acting Minister Public Works, Hon. Ruth Coker-Collins

Deputy Ministers, Assistant Ministers, and other Government Officials Present

Colleagues from the World Bank

Members of the 4th Estate

Ladies and Gentlemen

It is a great privilege and honor for me to be participating in yet another huge milestone in the development partnership between Liberia and the World Bank as we sign Financing Agreements of three programs: The Southeastern Corridor Road Asset Management Project (SECRAMP) in the amount of US$62 million of which US$41 million is an IDA Credit and US$21 million is a grant from the British and German Governments, and the EU, provided to Liberia through  the Liberia Reconstruction Trust Fund (LRTF) that is managed by the World Bank; The Rural Economic Transformation Project (RETRAP) in the Amount of US$55 Million IDA Credit; and The Second Inclusive Growth Development Policy Operation (IGDPO-2) in the amount of US$40 Million of which US$20 million is an IDA Grant and US$20 million is an IDA Credit. You may remember that it is only two months ago, on April 12th, that we were signing Financing Agreements of two other projects, in energy and social protection. This simply means that our partnership is delivering.

The Programs whose Financing Agreements we are signing today will go a long way towards transforming the economy of Liberia, and in turn, the livelihoods of the Liberian people. The first, is the Southeastern Corridor Road Asset Management Project (SECRAMP) which will finance the construction of 61 kilometers of paved road from Saclepea to Tappita. Most of us may recall that on December 2nd, the President broke ground for the construction of 39 kilometers of paved road from Ganta to Saclepea fully financed by the Government of Liberia. At the ceremony, he indicated that financing had already been secured for another 61 kilometers of road from Saclepea to Tappita. This is what he was talking about.

The second project, the Rural Economic Transformation Project will finance another 40 kilometers of paved road from Tappita on the way towards Zwedru. We will be working with the Government of Liberia and other development partners to secure additional funding so that the whole road up to Zwedru is paved. Meanwhile, the Rural Transformation Project is also providing additional financing to the Agriculture Sector, besides the existing support being provided through the Smallholder Agriculture Transformation and Agribusiness Revitalization Project (STAR-P). In particular, the Project seeks to contribute towards the transformation of the agriculture sector in Liberia by supporting activities that seek to improve the productivity of small holder farmers and enhance their access to markets. In fact, the reason why this project has a road component is precisely to improve access by farmers to markets.

As you can see, once implemented, these projects will benefit so many Liberians, especially those in the rural areas. It will improve their livelihoods as they will be able to grow their own food as well as earn incomes by selling their cash crops as well as their excess food crops. The improved road connectivity will also ensure that they have improved access to other sources of incomes, as well as improve their access to key services such as health and education. In this way, we will be contributing to the achievement of the Government’s goals as laid out in the Pro-Poor Agenda for Prosperity and Development (PAPD).

I would like to thank the Acting Minister of Public Works and her team for their collaboration with the World Bank team on both the SECRAMP and the RETRAP as the package was being prepared for Board Approval. I am also grateful to the Hon. Minister of Agriculture and her team for the leadership in the design of the RETRAP. And finally, I would like to thank the British Government, the German Government, and the EU for their financial contribution to the road project through the LRTF.

Finally, the third financing agreement we are signing today is for the Second Inclusive Growth Development Policy Operation which is a facility that the World Bank uses to provide budget support to the Government for implementing critical policy and institutional reforms. The logic of this facility is very simple: development does not only depend on building roads or supporting farmers with agriculture inputs, it also depends on the Government creating a conducive policy and institutional environment for these investments to bear fruit. For example, the Government has improved its policy and regulatory environment to ensure that the private sector is able to participate in the provision of certified seeds for farmers. This policy reform improves significantly the chances of the STAR-P and RETRAP projects being successful. Thus, when farmers receive financial assistance under the agriculture projects to buy seeds, they will now be more assured to find high quality but affordable seeds in the market because of the policy reform implemented by the Government.  So, in recognition of such reforms, the World Bank provides budget support to the Government to supplement the revenues that it collects from taxes and other sources.

In the case of Liberia, we committed to a three-year program and this is the second operation in that series.  In this context, I would like to commend the Government of Liberia for its commitment to carrying out these critical reforms. In a special way, I would like to thank the Minister of Finance who has been a champion of these reforms that has made it easy for us to make a case to our Board that Liberia continues to make progress in carrying our critical reforms. I would also like to recognize Hon. Augustus Flomo, who has been the Minister’s lieutenant in coordinating this reform program and working closely with our teams during the preparation of all these projects at various stages. I also want to thank colleagues at the World Bank for their commitment and dedication to Liberia.

Ladies and Gentlemen, the executive branch of Government has done its part in mobilizing these substantial amounts of resources that will transform the lives of Liberians. It is now up to the legislature to ratify the financing agreements as soon as possible so that implementation can begin and people can start reaping the benefits.

In closing, I look forward to the partnership between the World Bank and Liberia continuing to grow stronger. I also hope history will judge us kindly for trying our best to deliver these programs while working under a very difficult environment in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic. Please continue to stay safe.

I thank you for your attention.

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About Cholo Brooks 14980 Articles
Joel Cholo Brooks is a Liberian journalist who previously worked for several international news outlets including the BBC African Service. He is the CEO of the Global News Network which publishes two local weeklies, The Star and The GNN-Liberia Newspapers. He is a member of the Press Union Of Liberia (PUL) since 1986, and several other international organizations of journalists, and is currently contributing to the South Africa Broadcasting Corporation as Liberia Correspondent.

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