Liberia, World Bank sign US$40m loan
By Lincoln G. Peters
The Government of Liberia and the World Bank have signed a US$40 million loan and grant for the implementation of the Liberia Investment, Finance and Trade Project (LIFT-P), aimed at improving support of Liberia’s private and financial sectors, and enhancing sustainable trade access to finance.
Government ministries and agencies including Finance, Commerce, the Central Bank of Liberia (CBL), the Liberia Revenue Authority (LRA) and the National Investment Commission (NIC) signed on behalf of Liberia on Monday, 4 April 2022.
The signing ceremony was held in the Conference Hall of the Ministry of Commerce and Industry at the renamed Ellen Johnson – Sirleaf Ministerial Complex in Congo Town.
The signing ceremony brought together top government officials and officials of the World Bank including its Country Manager Dr. Khwima Nthara, who signed for his entity.
Liberia’s Finance Minister Samue D. Tweah, Jr., Commerce and Industry Minister Mawine Diggs, and Deputy Central Bank Governor for Economic Policy Dr. Musa Dukuly, signed for the Government of Liberia.
Following several months of engagement and high-level policy meetings between staff of the World Bank and the Government of Liberia, the Board of Executive Directors of the International Development Association 9 on February 2022 approved credit and an added grant to Libertia for the implementation of the project.
The project aims to improve the investment climate, expand sustainable trade and access to finance, and increase the efficiency of trade in Liberia.
It also incorporates features that seek to address the identified gap between men and women with respect to the participation in economic activities in the country, especially around different constraints and performance between women-owned and men-owned funds.
Through the signing of the Liberia Investment, Finance and Trade Project, the Government of Liberia will create a one-stop shop for business registration and licensing and automate the process so that it becomes easy to start a business in Liberia.
The Government of Liberia will again through the project simplify and automate the process of exporting and importing goods by creating a national single window for trade and establishing a new National Electronic Payment Switch System that will connect and improve the efficiency of various elements of the financial system including commercial banks, micro-finance banks, and mobile money agents.
Speaking at the signing ceremony Finance Minister Samuel D. Tweah, Jr., expressed excitement and appreciation to the World Bank of Liberia through the Country Manager Dr. Khwima Nthara for the signing ceremony, adding that it’s a great relief to the country.
According to Minister Tweah, the impact of the project will be felt in terms of its monitoring and evaluation, saying they are key because this is where they are going to spend a lot of their energy in implementation.
Mr. Tweah noted that the project has deliverables, targets and they have to stay consistent in delivering on those targets.
“The Monitoring and Project Management Unit has a lot of work to do because this is an intangible thing and one of the difficulties of it, people do not feel the impact immediately. Therefore, we have to make deliberate efforts to force them to feel the impact and that means the project has to work,” he said.
Also speaking, World Bank Country Manager Dr. Khwima Nthara described the project as a game-changer for Liberia because the country is open for business and it will be the investor’s destination of choice.
Dr. Nthara said by facilitating private sector investment, the project will contribute towards the creation of more and better jobs.
“I like to say during such ceremonies, the Executive branch of government has done its part in mobilizing the simple sustainable amount of resources that will transform the lives of Liberians and it’s now up to the Legislature to ratify the financing agreement as soon as possible so that implementation can begin,” he said.
Commerce Minister Madam Mawine Diggs thanked the World Bank for the project, noting that the government looks forward to further enhancing partnership with the World Bank as they take a step forward to the next stages of the project.
‘’Today is a manifestation that we have gone beyond not just that commitment to taking essential steps to making the lives of our people better following the massive disruption to trade and economy as the result of the COVID-19,” she said.
“The LIFT-P and other projects implemented by this Ministry will complement the government’s economic recovery program and policy aimed at promoting SME,’’ Minister Diggs noted.