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America “attempting footprint”

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Amara NDFinance and Development Planning Minister, Amara Konneh, says the U.S. Government is “attempting” to show its “footprint” here in response to request from the Government of Liberia.

He was addressing his cabinet colleagues in Monrovia Wednesday, 26 August at a Millennium Challenge Compact meeting chaired by Vice President Joseph NyumahBoakai, after signing a US$256.7 million MCC grant at the U.S. Department of State.

The Millennium Challenge Corporation or MCC, which is granting this amount to Liberia is an independent agency separate from the State Department and USAID, but a bilateral United States foreign aid agency established by the US Congress in 2004, applying a new philosophy toward foreign aid.

Minister Konneh sees the MCC Compact as a “big deal for Liberia,” and also a big deal in the relationship with the United States Government because the $256.7 million grant will provide substantial support in a timely way to Liberia’s energy program, particularly rehabilitation of the country’s hydro.

“So in many ways, it is significant in terms of our bilateral engagement; but also in terms of what we been asking the US Government to really show their footprint. Without first fixing the problem in the Liberian energy sector, he said Liberians could cry until the Day of Judgment, but the economy here will not grow.

“Our economy will not grow; we can cry from now to judgment day if we do not fix the energy problem. And this is what they are attempting to do,” he said at the C. Cecil Dennis Auditorium of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs yesterday.

He claims that the Sirleaf-led administration is building more roads than ever in this country; and the government is at the same time rehabilitating the old ones, while building new ones. As such, Konneh argued that if maintenance program are not in place, those roads will spoil pretty soon, adding that is what the MCC grant is attempting to address.

He said the $256.7 million will provide substantial support in a timely way particularly the hydro, help Liberia to begin putting in place approach to maintain roads across the country. Besides, he says the MCC Compact is also attempting to build capacity in the two sectors on which this administration has bet its legacy – road and energy.

He recalled that the granting of the MCC Compact was upon the successful completion of the threshold program and working collectively at the level of the steering committee along with various institutions to improve indicators.

He said out of 20 indicators, Liberia did well with 10, “particularly on the control of corruption indicator” and is “in the race with Sierra Leone,” Morocco and other African countries for compact. However, he announced that a Compact Millennium Challenge Account will be set up here as an autonomous agency that will manage the MCC engagement with the government.

The rest of the activities were not opened to the press following Konneh’s remarks, as Vice President Boakai mandated.

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