Over USD420.8m loan: Senate holds special session today

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Members of the Liberian Senate will today, Monday, 11 June hold a special session to critically scrutinize the controversial concession agreement between the Liberian Government and President George Manneh Weah’s Burkinabe friend Mahamadou Bonkoungou’s engineering company EBOMAF SA.

The concession is a road financing loan agreement between the Liberian Government and the Burkina Fasso – based private company in the tune of over US$420m.

Today’s special session by the Liberian Senate follows another special session it held over the weekend to rectify the US$536m controversial loan between Liberia and Eton amidst public outcry against the two loans.

The special session will give the senators the opportunity to fully understand the road financing loan agreement. There are claims that EBOMAF was operating in Sinoe County here, but allegedly pulled out due to some disagreements. But it is claimed that EBOMAF is returning based on President Weah’s call for an open investment and the revision of concession agreements here.

It can be recalled that President Weah ordered a review of concessions entered into by previous administrations. The statement at the time said a committee would “review and ensure that all contracts entered into by the government of Liberia and concessionaires are executed according to agreed principles in accordance with the laws of Liberia.”

A nine-member panel will determine if the government’s partners in those agreements had been fully implemented and met their performance requirements. During the 12-year rule of Weah’s predecessor, former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the government attracted around $15 billion in foreign investment, according to a finance ministry report.

The House of Representatives rectified the agreement between EBOMAF SA and the Government of Liberia last week, totaling over US$420,810,000.00 Million for road construction.

EBOMAF SA is a construction company based in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. Its president and CEO, Mahamadou Bonkoungou recently lent a plane to President Weah to make several foreign travels besides providing cash to the President as gift.

The 54th Legislature’s joint committee on Ways, Means, and Finance and Development Planning and Judiciary reports that in keeping with its legislative mandate and oversight, it has appraised the proposed loan financing agreement for ratification in the amount of US$420,810,000.00 and successfully passed it before forwarding it to the Senate for possible concurrence.

The financial deal says the objective of the agreement is to finance the design, construction, and supervision of 256.2km flexible road pavement corridors here.

In Monrovia, it is expected to finance the Somalia Drive, Kesselly Boulevard to Sinkor road project which is “16km,” and in Northeastern Liberia, is also expected to finance the Tappita, Zwedru Road which is “112”kms, the Toe Town to La Cote D’Ivoire, Ivory Coast road which is 10.2kms and the Zwedru to Greenville road which is 185.5kms.

It details that the construction period shall be 36 months from the day of commencement which is three months after the deposit of the first tranche of the loan.

The report notes that when rectified, the loan will seek to address the nightmare of inaccessibility of road networks in the northeastern region of Liberia, boost development initiatives in the areas of agriculture, education and health.

It is expected to promote government’s de-centralization policy by ensuring effective delivery of goods and services across the geographical landscape of Liberia, among others.

It says the Government of Liberia under the term of the loan/financing agreement with EBOMAF SA shall issue a fixed interest Eurobond with a face value of US$420,810,000.00 payable in 15 years with a five-year interest and principal-free grace period plus 10 years of coupon payment.

By E. J. Nathaniel Daygbor–Edited by Winston W. Parley

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