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Wednesday, February 28, 2024

LIBERIA: DEBT BURDEN, ‘TOUGH ROAD FOR BOAKAI’S GOV’T’

Date:

MONROVIA – Amid a well advanced process of transition preparation by both the outgoing regime of soccer legend George Weah and the newly elected administration of former VP Joe Boakai, for the smooth transfer of power early next year, the road ahead of the incoming administration is tough, as both the domestic and foreign debts of the country soar at a skyrocketed peak.

A high-ranking member of Boakai’s 20-member Transition Team, former Finance Minister Amara Konneh, has hinted that, with such a staggering amount of overdue and pending debts incurred both domestically and internationally by Joe Boakai’s predecessor, Mr. Weah’s administration, Liberians should brace themselves for a hard-hitting governance reality during the days ahead in the reign of the ex-Vice President.

Throngs of Liberians, who voted Weah out, replacing him with Boakai, are of the conviction that the elderly statesman is best suited to repair the economic woes inflicted on the country by the retired footballer’s administration accused of harboring inexperienced and rampantly corrupt officials.

Howbeit, Konneh disclosed at the weekend that Liberia’s total overdue and pending debt payments is US$29.79 million, with US$26.48 million of such amount being due next month.

Currently, the country’s domestic debt stands at US$12.21 million, while Liberia owes an external debt in the tone of US$17.58 million, according to Konneh.

“Tough road for the new administration,” Konneh emphasized, cautioning Liberians to manage their expectations regarding Joe Boakai’s administration.

Recently, under Mr. Weah’s watch as President of Liberia, the World Bank suspended disbursements to the Government of Liberia (GoL), for the administration’s failure to service its loans for over 60 days.

Since July of this year, the outgoing administration headed by former soccer star Weah, has submitted zero expenditure reports to the World Bank, thus painting a gloomy fiscal picture for Liberia.

The Bank’s suspension action, which took effect as of 12:01 a.m., Washington, D.C., time on 15 November 2023, is a devastating blow to the Joe Boakai-headed new administration which is expected to be inaugurated in less than two months’ time, with the implication that needed financial resources required to support various development projects within the country would not be forthcoming any time soon.

The World Bank, in a recently issued notice to the GoL, informed the Weah-led government of the suspension of disbursements under various financial agreements.

The Bank told the GoL that its suspension action was necessitated by the World Bank’s Member Country, Liberia’s failure to fulfill its payment obligations by the specified deadline of November 14, 2023.

A World Bank’s latest official letter which Smart News Liberia (SNL) is privy to, admonishes the Liberian government that unless it services all outstanding payments under multiple loans by the given date, the Bank would suspend the country’s withdrawals for all effective and not fully withdrawn International Development Association (IDA) financings, Project Preparation Facility (PPF) advances, and Institutional Development Fund (IDF) grants guaranteed by Liberia.

In the World Bank’s communication to the GoL, dated 15 November 2023, signed by its Vice President for Western and Central Africa, Ousmane Diagana, the Bank highlighted that certain other grants and loans financed under trust funds overseen by it, either provided directly to Liberia or other recipients for projects within the country’s territory, could also face suspension.

Olando Testimony Zeongar
Olando Testimony Zeongar
A cleric and a career journalist, with a wealth of experience in the journalism craft that spans over two decades. He’s also a poet and an editor.

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