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Legislature examines US$256m deal

Members of the Liberian Legislature on Ways, Means, Finance, Budget and Development Planning Committee have commenced the process of examining the US$256.7 million grant provided by the United States Government through the Millennium Challenge Countries and the creation of a Millennium Challenge Account.

The Legislature is expected to pass a bill seeking the creation of the Millennium Challenge Account which will be managed by commission of five commissioners for five years. The committee on Monday, October 12, 2015 called for a public hearing inviting the Ministers of Public Works, Lands, Mines and Energy, Development Planning to give expert opinions on how the grant will be managed and administered here.

The Millennium Challenge Compact Account is expected to manage the administrative, technical and financial operations of the agreement between the two countries. At the hearing, Members of the Joint Committee entertained comments from officials of the Executive Branch on how this agreement will promote economic growth and enhance the elimination of extreme poverty in Liberia.

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Speaking at the hearing Deputy Minister of Finance and Development Planning for Budget, Dr. James Kollie said the grant was provided for good governance and the fight against corruption.

Liberia qualified for the grant following completion of 20 indicators which key among them is the fight against corruption. The grant is to be used mainly for maintenance of road network, energy and the improvement of the Liberia Electricity Corporation activities.

Massive portion of the financial assistance are delegated to providing a more reliable and affordable electricity and improving routine and periodic road maintenance. The Ratification of the US $ 256, 7 Million Agreement and creation of the Millennium Challenge Account are among the reasons the President of Liberia asked the Legislature to extend for six additional weeks its sitting beyond the statutory closure time.

For his party, Public Works Minister Gyudy Moore said in order to provide proper road maintenance throughout the country, his ministry has divided the country into five zones, placing Maryland, Grand Kru and Rivergee Counties in one zone, Grand Gedeh, Sinoe and Rivercess Counties in zone two, while Grand Bassa, Nimba, Lofa and Margibi Counties are in zone 4 with Grand Cape Mount, Bomi and Gbarpolu Counties in zone 5.

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Meanwhile the Executive Branch of government has apportion the grant, giving US$80 million for the rehabilitation of Mount Coffee for the first year, with US$80 million for national roads maintenance activities; while monitoring and evaluations US$1.835 million for the first time.

The grant agreement also seeks that the funds be placed in the national budget of the country despite the budget being passed into law.

By E. J. Nathaniel Daygbor -Edited by Othello B. Garblah

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