31 January 2014

Liberia: Gov't Needs U.S.$20 Million to Upgrade Embassies

The Liberian government requires at least US$20 million to improve foreign diplomatic properties to a minimum standard, President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf has disclosed.

She said such an allotment would also enable the government to improve salaries and other benefits for Liberian diplomats, and make it easier to rotate, retire and clean up the Foreign Service.

President Sirleaf made the statement in her ninth State of the Nation address delivered before the 53rd National Legislature on Monday, at the Capitol Building on the theme "Consolidating the Processes of Transformation."

The Liberian leader said of the 38 facilities housing Liberian Chanceries and residences of diplomatic staff, 15 of these properties are owned by Government, and were in "serious disrepair and have suffered from neglect over the last quarter century of our civil crisis."

Most of these properties are located in prime areas around the world and, with enough funding to give them a face-lift, Government could find itself owning properties of great value, the President said.

The properties in Washington D.C., Paris and Abuja are in relative good shape, the President said, but those needing repairs are located in Abidjan, Conakry, Freetown, Accra, Addis Ababa, among others.

President Sirleaf said most Liberian embassies are understaffed, while staff accommodation is less than desirable, while no provision is made for education allowance or medical insurance for staff and, in many instances, Government is in breach of laws of the host countries regarding benefits of local employees.

Meanwhile, the President said the Foreign Ministry notes an increased foreign diplomatic presence in Liberia, including the reopening of the British Embassy in Monrovia, after over 20 years, and opening of Embassies of Brazil, Sweden and the State of Qatar in Monrovia, all of which are at the level of Resident Ambassadors.

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