The improving state of Liberia's governance structure and its apparent fiscal discipline continues to win the hearts of international and bilateral actors thus attracting millions of dollars for the economic development of the country.
Since the inception of the Ellen Johnson- Sirleaf administration in 2006, the country has witnessed substantial improvement in various internationally accepted governance indicators as evidence by the World Bank produced global governance report.
The 28-member European Union is a key economic and political bloc that has made it its sole policy to finance Liberia's post war development. The EU in recent times has made direct budgetary support to the government to address several development issues including health.
This month in Brussels, the EU announced an extension of its aid portfolio to Liberia in the tune of €279 million, approximately $384.07million for Liberia for the period of 2014 - 2020 under the 11th European Development Fund.
The EU's continued financial commitment to the country most likely points to growing trust in the current administration and a demonstrable rejection of perception and speculation that its US$13 million directed the 2012/13 national budget was misapplied.
"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 public resources," AndrisPiebalgs, EU Commissioner for Development.
Speaking on behalf of the European Commission in a recent donor meeting in Brussels, Belgium, the EU Commissioner for Development AndrisPiebalgs announced that some $8.8billion 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 public resources".
During the bilateral discussions, the EU and Liberia both agreed that significant part 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.
Since 2009/10, the European Union has been providing direct financing to Liberia 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.
In the last fiscal budget, 13 million US dollars was provided to the government as part of the fiscal budget towards the health sector budget and an additional 18 Million US dollar 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 making them the largest budget support donor to Liberia.
Responding following the Commissioner Piebalgs disclosure, Liberia's Minister of Finance and National Authorizing Officer, Amara M. Konneh asserted that "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".
He continued, "I appreciate the continued support of the European Union and its commitment to continue providing its development aid through the National Budget".
He used the occasion to thank the European Union for their 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. Minister Konneh 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.
Also, during the meeting issues around regional integration in the West African region was discussed with officials of ECOWAS, UEMOA and the EU. The EU meeting in Brussels was attended by all National Authorizing Officers/Development Ministers of all West African Countries.