22 June 2018

Liberia: "Scorecard 'Critical' for GOL to Secure Another MCC"

((L-Mr. Captain-R) Mr. Nash: "Maintaining performance on the MCC scorecard and a good implementation will be critical for Liberia to be considered for another grant."

Says entity's chief operating officer

Jonathan Nash, Chief Operating Officer of the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), who headed a high-level delegation of the Corporation to Liberia, told journalists that for Liberia to be certified for another compact, the country must pass the indicators to a certain extent.

Other members of Nash's delegation were MCC's Acting Chief of Staff Chris Dunn and Resident Country Director Kateri Clement.

He spoke to journalists on Tuesday in the presence of members of his delegation and officials of Millennium Challenge Account-Liberia office on UN Drive in Monrovia.

His two-day visit to Liberia from Monday, June 18 to Tuesday, June 19, 2018, was to engage the Liberian government about the successful implementation of the compact. But he said for Liberia to be certified for another compact, the country must pass the indicators to a certain extent.

Mr. Nash named some of the indicators as government control of corruption, rule of law, investing in the people; increasing immunization rate; investing in healthcare and education and promoting a business-friendly environment. "These are some of the indicators on the scorecard that qualify a beneficiary, because countries that do relatively well compared to their peers become eligible for the grant," he told the gathering, including officials from the Liberia Electricity Corporation (LEC).

"To obtain a second compact, the board looks at the extent at which a country was able to deliver and have a high-quality implementation of the first compact. The board generally looks for improved performance on the scorecard over time as well," Nash said.

"I am here to engage with President George Weah and his administration to review the progress that has been made to date, and to take a look ahead at the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead for the completion of the particular compact."

In 2016, Liberia received a grant of US$257 million from the United States through the MCC, to enhance its electricity and road projects.

These two sectors were earmarked as binding constraints - major factors hampering the growth of the country's economy - after a rigorous and comprehensive survey.

Before the survey, Liberia had already achieved an acceptable scorecard after passing 10 out of the 20 indicators to qualify for the grant.

Mr. Nash said that the Liberian government must also remain committed to the implementation of the current compact, on which progress has already been made at the Mt. Coffee Hydro-power Plant. The Corporation provided US$147 million; a single largest donor to the rehabilitation of the war-ravaged water dam.

He acknowledged that Liberia has in recent years passed some key indicators, including controlling corruption, but suggested that the government must continue to peruse anti-graft, democratic and economic freedoms in order to do better on the scorecard.

The collating and maintaining of the data of these indicators are done by a third party institution, and the MCC wants to introduce said institution to the Liberian government in order to help maintain sound policy performance.

Monie Captan, CEO of the MCA-L, the agency setup to manage the implementation of the grant, said recently that there are opportunities for Liberia to pass more indicators.

Captan said the government should develop an action plan to ensure all of the ministries and agencies that are connected to these performances and develop a clear policy action plan to boost performance.

"Sometimes we failed indicators, because the reporting ministry did not provide the information that was needed to judge our performance," he said.

The US$257 million compact is largely supporting Liberia's electricity project, ensuring power accessibility and affordability and helping to buttress the country's road network.

The five-year compact is already into its half way stage and intends to impact an estimated half a million Liberians before ending in 2021.

To this end, Mr. Nash said the compact is a priority project for the American Government.

"We deeply value our partnership with Liberia; that is one of the reasons I am out here," he added, stressing the impact of the "great things already achieved under the existing compact."

"We want to make sure that the government is able to implement the remainder of this compact with success so that the benefits are afforded to the Liberian people," Nash said.

He praised the "tremendous accomplishment" of the compact on the Mt. Coffee hydro project, and said the MCC's attention is now focused on the establishment of the electricity regulatory body for Liberia, the training of technicians by LEC and transmission and distribution of power as well as implementation of the road component of the compact.

With more than 20 years of experience in international development, Mr. Nash is responsible for overseeing and managing key aspects of the agency's day-to-day operations, administration and programming, and advising MCC's CEO or head of agency on program development, implementation and oversight.

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