New Democrat (Monrovia)

Liberia: Transparent Gov't Needed

Liberia needs a transparent government to effectively administer its natural resources and manage donor aids intended to assist in the achievement of post war recovery programs, said British Prime Minister David Cameron Friday when addressing journalists.

As one of three co-Chairs of the UN High Level Panel (HLP) discussion, the British Prime Minister recalled how Liberia was ravished by the civil crisis and now needs urgent attention.

"It requires the rule of law, it requires honest, transparent government, it needs infrastructure and education, it needs clear rules for business so that the country benefits from the raw materials and resources" Mr. Cameron said.

Liberia, the British Prime Minister recalls: "This country was completely ravished by conflict, war crime and guns. Its economy was destroyed. And now it is recovery under the leadership of the president."

"It is a country where aids can make a difference, aids can help but is a country that shows that a real agenda of how you lift people from poverty to prosperity how you lift a country from poverty to prosperity goes so much further than aid," Mr. Cameron said.

HE said Liberia also needs a strong private sector providing growth, the roads, wealth that will lift the people and the economy.

But he said all of the programs Liberia needs to grow are contained in the outcome of the HPL meeting also co-Chaired President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia, and Dr. Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono of Indonesia.

Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Mr Cameron said: "Liberia is now recovering but there is still desperate poverty... one in 10 children does not make it to the age of five. It is important we look at those things that keep countries poor - conflict, corruption, lack of justice, lack of the rule of law. These things matter as well as money."

The group was appointed with the task of producing a report in May to the UN Secretary-General containing recommendations for a new development agenda.

More than 60 groups were in the Liberian capital Monrovia - where the meeting took place - to air their views.

Earlier, Mr Cameron visited the Anna F Whisnant elementary school with President Sirleaf.

He said many of the children he spoke to in the playground "wanted to be doctors, lawyers and even government ministers.

"If you ask children in the UK, all they want to be is pop stars and footballers," he joked.

The next meeting will be in Indonesia followed by a final gathering in New York in May - where the findings will be presented to Ban Ki Moon.

The Prime Minister told an aid conference in Liberia that Britain is committed to global efforts to wipe out extreme poverty within a generation.

But the pledge will anger critics, including many Tory MPs, who say it is wrong to keep splurging on aid while cutting spending at home.

Mr Cameron insisted that the policy was the right thing to do as he addressed a United Nations meeting in the capital Monrovia.

He said: "Liberia is a country that was absolutely devastated by civil war. It's now recovering but there's still desperate poverty here.

"I'm here because I'm co-chairing the panel that is going to write the rules for aid and development for the world for the next 20 years, and I think it's very important we keep a focus on eradicating extreme poverty."

Mr Cameron later waved to photographers as he chatted with pupils and teachers at a school in Monrovia.

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