21 December 2012

Liberia: GOL Eligible to Receive Larger Funding Package From U.S. Gov't

Photo: Boakai Fofana/ allAfrica.com
Liberia Finance Minister Amara Konneh signs for a U.S.$15 million MCC grant in 2010.

The Government of Liberia (GOL) is eligible to receive a new and larger funding package from the United States Government under its Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) Compact, Liberia's Finance Minister, Amara Konneh, has disclosed.

The MCC is an independent U.S. foreign aid agency that is helping to lead the fight against global poverty.

Created by the United States Congress in January 2004 with strong bi-partisan support, the MCC is changing the conversation on how best to deliver smart U.S. foreign assistance by focusing on good policies, country ownership and results.

According to Minister Konneh, Liberia passed 10 indicators out of 20 in order to be qualified for the grant. He said the qualification of Liberia for the MCC funding is due to government's efforts to strengthen and enhance policies to better the lives of its citizens.

He made the disclosure on Thursday, December 20, 2012 at the Ministry of Information, Cultural Affairs and Tourism (MICAT) regular press briefing held at the Charles Gbenyon Press Hall in Monrovia. Speaking further, the Liberia's Finance Minister stated that the grant from the United States government would help support the Liberia Rising 2030 Vision.

The Vision 2030 document was recently adopted in Gbarnga, Bong County. Among other things, the Liberia Rising Vision 2030 is primarily aimed at national renewal and the overall process of post-war reconstruction and development of the country. He furthered that the grant would also contribute to the Liberian Government's five-year Agenda for Transformation Plan. But he did not state the monetary value of the grant.

Under the Liberian Government first three-year threshold program, Minister Konneh recalled that the US provided US$15M for Liberia to make critical reforms in several sectors. Minister Konneh named some of the sectors as: increase in girls' primary education, improvement in land rights, and modernizing custom practices, amongst others.

"I am very excited today to announce Liberia's eligibility to receive a new and larger funding package from the U.S. government for our development purpose through the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) which is the United States institution dedicated to help developing countries meet the millennium challenge goals. Base upon our eligibility, Liberia now stands to receive a substantial grant to support our recently launched Liberia Rising 2030 vision," he emphasized.

The government official continued: " As a result of the support we received from our American partners under the Threshold Program a segment of our female students now have access to education through the Girls Opportunity to Access Learning (GOAL) initiative which was rolled out in Bong, Lofa and Grand Bassa counties. The threshold funding did not only support our policy reform in education but it also directly empowers communities in the targeted counties to build and rehabilitate their own schools to make them girl-friendly. We now have a stronger understanding of land issues. We are now in the second year of the Threshold Program."

At the same time, Minister disclosed that a Land Governance Framework would be established in the country very shortly in order to support government in addressing 'contentious issues' surrounding land ownership in Liberia. According to him, the level of progress being made by the Liberian government has encouraged the U.S. government to renew its support to the Liberia's development through the MCC.

With the latest qualification of Liberia, the Finance Ministry boss stated that the country now has a huge task to develop what he called "comprehensive programs" for the compact implementation that would focus on the needs of the country. Also speaking, United States Ambassador accredited to Liberia, Madam Deborah Malac, said the eligibility of Liberia for the MCC funding is a 'very important step for government and the entire country.'

She disclosed that Liberia is amongst a very few countries that have been selected for the funding. She pointed out that the decision to qualify Liberia and other countries was taken by the Board of Directors of the MCC at a quarterly meeting on Wednesday, December 19, 2012.

Liberia, Niger, Sierra Leone, Morocco and Tanzania have all been selected to benefit from the MCC grant.

Madam Malac stated that the countries have reached the benchmark set aside by the MCC to benefit from the funding. For a country to benefit from the compact funding, the MCC of the United States Government takes into consideration good governance, economic freedom and investments in citizens, amongst others, she added.

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