Last week, lawmakers on Capitol Hill ratified two separate Loans Financing Agreements, totaling nearly US$1 Billion to construct roads across Liberia. President George Manneh Weah and his ministers negotiated the loans, one in Asia and another in Africa.
A private foreign company, Eton Finance PTE Limited and the Government of Liberia signed a US$536 Million Loan Financing Agreement for construction of roads in southeast Liberia. The government also signed another US$420,810,000.00 Loan Financing Agreement with a private firm in Burkina Faso, West Africa, EBOMAF SA to pave 2.56.2km roads that would connect Somalia Drive to Kesselly Boulevard to Sinkor and Northwestern Liberia (Tappita, Zwedru, Toe Town to La Cote D’Ivoire and Zwedru to Greenville) respectively. The construction is for a period of 36 months.
The government secured these loans with good intentions, but many Liberians are apprehensive or doubtful whether the authorities, from the President to his cabinet ministers have enough political will to have those projects executed in line with standard designs.
This has been the fundamental problem faced by most African leaders and governments: Programs and policies are impressively designed on papers, but when projected funds are disbursed, it is totally something else. In fact, most projects never see the light of day, and allotted funds are diverted or misappropriated.
Politicians being very crafty, always come up with so-called developmental programs to squander borrowed funds. They make small attempts in implementing projects earmarked. But suddenly, they abandon those projects with excuses of funds exhausted.
Records from Capitol Hill, including audit reports are replete with stories of abandoned projects due to exhaustion of funds before end of execution. These are the disappointing realities in all 15 counties, particularly with County Development Funds.
We saw in the administration of former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf how money allotted for various projects under the CDF were wickedly misappropriated after citizens were deceived in believing development were going to their communities.
We hope these loans being secured would not end up in the same way without our citizens benefiting from debts they and their children unborn would have to pay back to the creditors with interests. About US$1 Billion has been credited by the current administration in less than six months after taking office.
The intentions for borrowing the money are good, but the will to deliver the development as being promised is another thing. The Weah-led government should not disappoint citizens in the various counties, towns and villages who placed their trust in his leadership ability thru their votes in 2017.
We demand transparency and accountability at the highest level in the disbursement and execution of these loans so that the citizens would see tangibles on the ground rather than unfinished projects, poor quality works or no projects at all.