For Support To SMEs: Liberia And World Bank Seal USD$40M Deal

L-R: Dr. Nthara, Ministers Diggs and   Tweah
L-R: Dr. Nthara, Ministers Diggs and Tweah
Photo Credit: Public Affair MoCI

Wednesday: April 6, 2022: A USD$40million   financing agreement intended to support the Liberia Investment, Finance and Trade Project (LIFT-P) has been signed between the Liberian Government, through the Ministry of Commerce and Industry and the World Bank.

The signing program took place  Monday, April 4, 2022, at the Ministry of Commerce and Industry at the Ministerial Complex, Congo Town,  attracting  remarks from representatives from  sector  institutions  of the Liberian Government, including  the Ministries of Commerce and Industry,  Finance and Development Planning, Liberia Revenue Authority(LRA), the Central Bank of Liberia(CBL) and partnering institutions.

In accordance with the agreement, USD $20million of the amount represents an IDA grant, while the remaining USD$20million represents a concessional IDA credit.

The USD$40million Financing Agreement is aimed at providing a line of credit for Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), and to also build their capacities to be able to access markets over the next five years and at the same time ensure direct support to over 750 SMEs by providing a customized suite of services. The services include coaching, training, market linkages, investment facilitation and finance.

It is anticipated that through the LIFT Project, the Liberian Government will strengthen the capacities of the National Investment Commission (NIC) and the Inter-Ministerial Concession Committee as a means of attracting large investors and negotiate investment agreements in realization of the best deals for Liberia.

The idea will also establish the Liberia Special Economic Zone Authority that will guide the activities of establishing special economic zones and industrial parks, etc.

 

Speaking during the signing ceremony, World Bank Country Manager, Dr. Khwima Nthara,said the agreement, approved by the Board of the  World Bank  on 9th February, 2022,   marks a milestone in the development partnership between the World Bank and Liberia. “This is the first time the World Bank is providing such a significant amount of financing to support programs for improving the investment climate for the private sector,” Dr. Nthara observed.

According to him, the initiative is in recognition of the significant progress made by the Liberian Government  in stabilizing the macro-economy over the past three years, promises to be a game changer for Liberia and  sends  a loud a clear message that Liberia is open for business and that it will be the investors’ destination of choice.

Dr. Nthara  also noted that the signing ceremony was a result of Liberia’s removal  from the World Bank’s list of countries categorized as Fragile and Conflict-affected Situations (FCS) after an improvement in the overall rating under the World Bank’s Country Policy and Institutional Assessment (CPIA). He said now that   the Executive Branch of the Liberian Government has done its part   in mobilizing such substantial amounts of resources that will transform the lives of Liberians, it is  now up to the Liberian Legislature to ratify the USD$40m Financing Agreement as soon as possible for  implementation to commence so that the Liberian people  can begin reaping its benefits. “We look forward to the successful implementation of the LIFT Project and you can count on the World Bank for its continued support,” Dr. Nthara added.

The World Bank Country Manager indicated that the Liberian Government will create a One-stop-business registration and licensing and automate the process so that it becomes easy to start business in Liberia, through the LIFT Project, simplify and automate the process of exporting and importing goods by creating a National Single Window for Trade.

 

Also speaking, Commerce and Industry Minister, Mawine G. Diggs, said the occasion was not just a great day for the government and people of Liberia, but for the Ministry of Commerce & Industry, that will, for the first time be implementing a project such as the Liberia Investment Financing Trade Project (LIFT- P). “I want to thank His Excellency Dr. George Manneh Weah for the leadership and direction in ensuring we arrive at this point and my cabinet colleagues for all of the support rendered,” Minister Diggs said.

 She also lauded World Bank Country Manager, Dr. Khwima Nthara, and his   team for the cooperation and support, adding that Liberia looks   forward to further enhancing its partnership and as the country takes a step forward to the next stages of the project.

Minister Diggs said when she  took over  as minister, she  stressed and made  a commitment to ensuring that the President’s  vision, as reflected in  the Pro-poor Agenda for Prosperity and Development(PAPD) for an improved  business climate support and development of  the country’s  SMEs, increased participation of Liberian businesses in the trade & commerce of  the country, strengthening and increasing capacity of trade facilitation institutions are delivered.

 She described the signing of the USD$40million Financing Agreement for SMEs support as a manifestation that Liberia has gone beyond not just that commitment to take substantial steps to making the life of the citizens better, following the massive disruption  of  trade and economy as the result of the COVID 19.

 “The LIFT- P and other projects implemented by the Ministry of Commerce & Industry as well as other agencies of government will compliment government’s economic recovery program and policy aimed at   supporting SMEs and the general business outlook of the nation,” she added. Minister Diggs pledged the Commerce Ministry’s commitment to full implementation of the LIFT-Project and at the same time said she was looking forward to the development of similar project to address other programs.

 

For his part, Finance and Development Planning Minister, Samuel D. Tweah,Jr., hailed the World Bank for the initiative. “Today is a great day that we are here to sign LIFT. The fact that LIFT is the first World Bank project to address in a structural way the business and investment climate of Liberia. He said the project will enable small businesses have stronghold in the process of economic transformation.

 

According to the Finance and Development Planning Minister, Liberian businesses have several problems and it’s incumbent upon the government, through relevant institutions such as the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Liberia Revenue Authority, Central Bank of Liberia and the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning to be able to shoulder such challenges and find solution.

Minister Tweah also said the structural financing project to the investment climate is another way for the Liberian Government and its partners; the World Bank to continue working together on the challenges.

 

 

Jacob N.B. Parley

Communications Director

Contacts: 0777604576/0886560455

Email: jacobtheancestor@yahoo.com

WhatsApp:0881336137