The European Commission (EC) has announced an extension of its aid portfolio to Liberia in the tune of $384.07 million for the period 2014 - 2020, effectively laying to rest, the 13 million dollar reported missing in the health sector.
At the time of the controversy, Ministry of Finance officials had insisted the money was part of the fiscal budget and hence was no new allocation as speculated in the media.
But recently in Brussels, the European Commission extended its support to Liberia, with most of the funding committed through the budget support mechanism under the 11th European Development Fund.
According to a press release, since 2009/10 the European Union has provided direct financing to Liberia's development programs through the "budget support" framework.
Budget support is an evolving aid platform that involves policy dialogue, financial transfers to the national treasury of the partner countries, performance assessment and capacity-building, based on partnership and mutual accountability. This mechanism allows for state oversight and implementation of programs agreed within the scope of the EU aid program.
The release said in the last fiscal budget, US$13 Million was provided to the Government of Liberia as part of the fiscal budget towards the health sector and an additional US$18 Million as general budget support. For this fiscal year, the EU has committed to provide another 13 million as budget support to the health sector.
So far, the EU has provided a total of EUR 52 million in budget support to Liberia, thus becoming the largest budget support donor to Liberia.
Speaking on behalf of the European Commission at the donors meeting, EU Commissioner for Development, Andris Piebalgs, announced that some $8.8 Billion is expected to support investments that generate growth and job creation for over 300 million citizens of West Africa.
For Liberia, he said the indicative funding is targeted at supporting critical development interventions, including energy, education and state building initiatives.
The European Commissioner, who visited Liberia earlier this year said, "If we had not seen with our eyes, it would have been difficult to believe that Liberia has done so well in governance, infrastructure development and the control mechanics of the National Budget, thus reflecting true transparency and accountability [of] public resources".
During the bilateral discussions, the EU and Liberia both agreed that significant parts of this amount will be allocated to Liberia through budget support (state building contracts), support the transmission and distribution of energy to increase interconnectivity and access to cheap and affordable energy, and to improve the quality of education at the primary and secondary level.
Responding after the Commissioner Piebalgs disclosure, Liberia's Minister of Finance and National Authorizing Officer, Amara M. Konneh, said, "Liberia's forward march to development and economic growth is only going to be a reality if our partners retain confidence in our governance process by allowing more aid and development assistance to be administered through the budget."
Konneh continued, "I appreciate the continued support of the European Union and its commitment to continue providing its development aid through the National Budget."
He thanked the European Union for its continued support to Liberia's development, and cited the critical need to render more support to the security sector in view of the impending drawdown of UNMIL.
The Finance Minister also enjoined the EU to continue its support to the broader governance reform by supporting legislative and presidential elections, the rule of law and other critical areas.
During the meeting, issues around regional integration in the West African region were discussed with officials of ECOWAS, UEMOA and the EU. The EU meeting in Brussels was attended by all National Authorizing Officers and or Development Ministers of West African Countries.