21 December 2012

Liberia: Difficult Task

Liberia has received US$15m from the United States Government after becoming eligible under the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), but senior government officials who broke the news say implementation of the threshold fund will be a difficult task for the country.

The funding package is an independent US foreign aid that assists in the fight against global poverty and was created by the US Congress in January 2004 with strong bipartisan support.

The US$15m, which is to be used for critical reforms in three development areas, is the initial amount but if properly applied, substantial grants could be provided to support good governance, economic freedom and investments in key areas of citizens concern.

The US$15m MCC threshold program focuses on expanding girls' access to education, land and trade opportunities.

But making the disclosure, both Finance Minister Mr. Amara Konneh and Foreign Minister Augustine Ngafuan said the task to implement the threshold is tedious and will require "painstaking" planning.

"We now have a large task before us to develop a comprehensive program for compact implementation that will determine its size within MCC's budgetary limit and focuses on our national priorities and target Liberia's most pressing needs infrastructure," Minister Konneh said.

Flanked by senior government officials and US Ambassador Deborah Malac, Konneh said: "This process will not be an easy one. It will require a painstaking planning process."

Some of the difficulties involved in achieving the threshold include a seven-month period in which Liberia will analyze constraints facing Liberia's economic growth and human development, conduct public consultations and build a framework for results focused implementations, as well as define the projects that will undertake the compact.

Another difficulty in achieving the threshold according to Minister Konneh is:

Liberia will have to work within a 20-month period to outline in details compact projects and lay the grounds for implementation, with the MCC.

"As you can see, this difficult task is going to be a lengthy process characterized by consultations within the government, the public, and with MCC to ensure that we meet your expectations and the established standards for compact," the Finance Minister observed.

The US Government's MCC Board of Directors, at its quarterly meeting on 19 December 2012, selected Liberia, Niger, Sierra Leone, Morocco, and Tanzania as eligible to develop proposals for new compacts, while Guatemala was eligible for a threshold program.

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