The European Union and the Government of Liberia have signed two financial agreements for projects totaling US$64 million in the key sectors of electricity, and institutional capacity in aid management. The EU has also confirmed an additional US$34 million in grant funding as part of its ongoing budget support programme, according to a press issued by the EU.
Speaking Monday, February 8, 2016 during the official signing ceremony at the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning in Monrovia, the EU Ambassador to Liberia, Madam Tiina Intelmann, said the EU is committed to working with the Government of Liberia to deliver the Agenda for Transformation. She noted that in her recent Annual Message, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf highlighted the importance of reliable electricity supply to the country.
Ambassador Intelmann said, “…with the signing of the Financial Agreement for the Monrovia Electricity Grid Consolidated Project, the EU together with the Ministry of Lands, Mines and Energy and the Liberia Electricity Corporation, will be able to take an important step in making mains electricity a reliable for Monrovia’s residents and businesses.”
She also confirmed the European Union’s decision to increase its budget support in response to Liberia’s request.“The European Union recognizes that Liberia’s public finances are under severe strain. While this additional support will not prevent the need for budget cuts, we hope it will contribute to achieving the government’s agreed objectives under the program: Improved economic governance; macro-economic stability; provision and accountability of health, justice and security services, particularly in the light of the additional costs associated with the preparations of UNMIL drawdown. I urge the Government to undertake efforts to meet all agreed conditions and sector indicators, so that all of the foreseen amounts can be paid into the budget. I also hope that, where necessary, the Legislature will act swiftly to pass any associated legislation”, the EU envoy stressed.
On behalf of the Government of Liberia, Finance Minister Amara Konneh thanked the EU for its continuous support, noting it is good to have cheap electricity in the country because you have factory hiring more people to do their work, having cheap electricity, which will help to improve the country.
Minister Konneh said government’s reason for prioritizing cheap electricity is to create a sixteen-hour economy, and more, adding “Right now, eight-hour economy productivity is low to create employment for our people.”
He said when shops and other businesses can open beyond 4 pm, more people will have jobs. “We want to see Liberians packed their lunch bags and go to a place called factory to produce Liberian made products.”
According to the Finance boss, the Monrovia consolidated projects will support small businesses, and even households, noting “With this support from the EU, we are going to target 350,000 households in Monrovia; this is significant; it is a game changer to our country.”
By Lewis S.Teh-Edited by Jonathan Browne