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House ratifies US$60,300,000 loan agreements

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Capitol Building DoomThe House of Representatives has ratified three loan agreements, totaling US$60, 300,000 aimed at improving the Roberts International Airport or RIA in Margibi County.

The three agreements are between the Republic of Liberia and the Europe Investment Bank, US$27, 300,000; the Saudi Fund for Development, US$ 20, 000, 000; and the Arab Bank for Economic Development in Africa, US$ 10,000, 000.

President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf had earlier written the House, asking them to ratify the agreements as the loan intended to co-finance the rehabilitation of the Roberts International Airport or RIA, is in the amount of US$10 million.

In a communication to House Speaker J. Alexander Tyler, dated March 25, 2015, President Sirleaf noted that the interest rate on the loans is one percent per annual on the principal amount withdrawn and outstanding from time to time.

The Liberian Chief Executive also informed members of the House that interest and other eventual charges shall be payable semi-annually.

She said the Government of Liberia shall repay the principal of the loan in 40 semi-annual instalments after a grace period of 10 years from the first day of the month following the first withdrawal from the loan’s account.

“In view of the important purpose of this financing arrangement and the need to rehabilitate the Roberts International Airport runway, I ask your ratification of this instrument,” President Sirleaf’s communication to the lawmakers further read.

Following the reading of the letter in session on Tuesday this week, Plenary decided that the communication be sent to its Committees on Ways and Means and Judiciary for review and recommendation, with the mandate to report in two weeks.

In 1942, Liberia signed a Defense Pact with the United States under which the RIA was constructed along with other projects related to US military interests.

The airport was originally built by the United States Government as an Air Force base.

From 1943 to the end of World War II in 1945, the Robertsfield, as it was then known, served as an alternative base for a 26 squadron, which flew Vickers Wellington Bombers on anti-submarine over the Atlantic.

However, members of the House voted 36 for, one against and three abstentions to ratify the agreements after the House’s Joint Committees on Ways, Means and Development Planning, Judiciary and Transport reported back to Plenary, accordingly. By Ben P. Wesee – Edited by Jonathan Browne

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