The New Dawn (Monrovia)

13 February 2013

Liberia: 18 Months to Complete MCC Compact

Finance Minister Amara Konneh has disclosed that it will take the country 18 months to develop the Compact Plan for the completion of the Millennium Challenge Corporation or MCC.

"If we get the designs right, the MCC will make a significant investment in our country and so we have to work hand in hand with the MCC to make sure we do get the design right:

"We are at the beginning of this process- and we will spend the next eighteen months working hard to ensure that Liberia earns the investment that we need", said Minister Konneh.

Speaking to reporters during a stakeout at the Finance Ministry on Friday, he stressed that unless Liberia is able to remove one of the obstacles it is faced with relative to economic development as the country looks forward to getting investments in its economy after meeting 10 out of 20 indicators of the MCC, the road ahead remains a rugged one.

He said the government and the MCC in a collaborative effort in the next 27 months will work to reach a compact on securing the much needed MCC investment for the country.

"This mission is important because Liberia, for the first time in December, passed 10 out of 20 MCC indicators- showing great progress across economic freedoms, investing in people and ruling justly. Because of this progress, we are now eligible to develop a compact program with the MCC," he added.

A MCC delegation that visited Liberia recently comprised of Sheila Herrling, Vice President for Policy and Evaluation; Jonathan Bloom, Deputy Vice President for West Africa, Department of Compact Operations and John Underwood, Chief Economist and Managing Director for Economic Analysis.

Minister Konneh said the discussions were fruitful and he remains optimistic that Liberia can reach the required benchmark for securing investment from the MCC that will impact the lives of Liberia's poor.

Mr. Konneh disclosed that the MCC delegation during the visit met with several cabinet ministers, development partners, Civil Society Organizations, and the private sector, adding that Liberia is the right venue for the first meeting in working on the process that will lead to the securing of the MCC investment.

"The conclusion of this meeting is that Liberia is in a good place to develop the MCC Compact; we have prepared well and have already started much of the analysis required," the Finance Boss said.

For her part, Sheila Herrling, MCC Vice President for Policy and Evaluation, said the visit here signifies the MCC's determination to help poor countries such as Liberia make wise decisions that will help lift people out of poverty. She said Liberia has done tremendously well to have passed the ten out of twenty indicators, which is the reason why the visit was necessitated in the first place.

She added that Liberia has reached a milestone that only few countries have achieved and therefore the country must be commended for the efforts, saying "There are only 20- 25 countries that have done this; so Liberia's efforts in passing those indicators to receive eligibility should actually be congratulated and embraced by all Liberians."

"We took the time while we were here to make sure that we were representing well our principle of country ownership which is bigger than government so we did spend time with government clearly in preparing the design of this program; private sector and civil society organizations to hear from them what they see as the most binding constraints to developing this country," she added.

In 2010, the MCC signed a $15 million threshold program grant agreement with the Government of Liberia that focused on improving land rights and access, increasing girls' primary education enrollment and retention, and improving Liberia's trade policy and practices. The implementation of this program is overseen by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) on behalf of the MCC.

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