Whatever discussions that were held at the World bank Headquarters in Washington, DC, between the Director General of the National Fisheries and Aquaculture Authority (NaFAA) and the Word Bank, may have been fruitful, but the outcome, as released to the Liberian populace thru a NaFAA’s press release, particularly a reported commitment of US$21 million to Liberia for a fisheries project underway which was promptly denied by the latter poses a serious image embarrassment not only for the government, but the entire country.
Whatever went wrong with the dissemination of the information that clearly boomeranged, NaFAA Director General Emma Glassco, should learn some lessons from there to guide herself in future engagement with international partners, specifically multilateral financial institutions such as the World Bank.
NaFAA had reported in Monrovia that Director General Glassco paid a follow up visit to the WB headquarters on a US$21 million fisheries project in Liberia under the West Africa Regional Fisheries Project or WARFP.
The release details that the money will be used to construct state of the art fishing and processing facilities and establish landing jetties in targeted five coastal counties, including Montserrado.
But the World Bank says it has made no commitment to fund a US$$21 million fisheries project in Liberia, contrary to the NaFAA’s release. The Bank clarifies that whether Liberia will have a new project with focus on fisheries will be determined after its new Director for Regional Integration comes on board on May 1, 2019, and a strategic decision will be made to fit the country’s priority needs.
Now, the public relations package from NaFAA perhaps was not properly timed or strategic, disclosing financial commitment that has not been finalized. And this is where Madam Glassco should take cue from.
It is not outcome of all discussions held with bilateral partners that should be hurriedly brought to the public, particularly in matters that concern funding.
We know the NaFAA boss may have out of anxiety, been unable to restrain herself in breaking a success story by being very circumspect. Perhaps it was in her strong quest to gain approval from the highest authority of the land.
However, we caution Madam Glassco that when engaging bilateral and multilateral partners, bordering on financial commitments, make sure that all sides are in concert with any public statement on the outcome before running with it to avoid such embarrassment.
The intention of the press release may have been good, particularly after the follow up meeting in Washington DC, but perhaps partners’ reaction was not given a second thought, specifically if no written and signed commitment were made, which presupposes that negotiations could be still ongoing hence, issue about exact amount of money was not necessary at this time.