President Weah Launches US$40M Financing Agreement
Monday, March 13, 2023: Liberian Chief Executive, Dr. George Manneh Weah has formally launched a USD$40m Financing Agreement aimed at supporting Small Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in Liberia. USD $20million or 50% of the 40m represents an International Development Association (IDA) grant, while the other USD$20million or 50% represents a concessional IDA credit.
Speaking Tuesday, March 7, 2023 at the EJS Ministerial Complex in Congo Town where the occasion took place, President Weah said the signing ceremony was a demonstration of his government’s commitment to making ground breaking ceremonies across all sectors of Liberia a reality, especially as the country continues to receive the necessary support from donors and development partners.
He expressed optimism that the Liberia Investment Finance and Trade Project (LIFT-P) will assist in improving country’s investment climate, expand access to finance and increase the efficiency of trade in the country.
“It is great pleasure to be here to officially launch the Liberia Investment Finance Trade Project (LIFT-P), being implemented by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, with support from the World Bank,” he observed. President Weah said based on what is contained in the financing agreement, the project will further improve trade and business environment in Liberia upon completion, noting that the idea is crucial to job creation and economic empowerment for the Liberian people.
He expressed gratitude to the World Bank group for the approval of the of the USD$40m to support and implement the LIFT Project.
“I also want to thank all those that helped in getting us here today, particularly Hon. Mawine G. Diggs, Minister of Commerce and Industry, Chairperson of the National Project Steering Committee for the LIFT Project,” President Weah added.
Giving an overview of the project, Commerce and Industry Minister, Mawine G. Diggs described the initiative as a product of many months of technical engagements and high-level policy meetings between staffs of the World Bank and the Liberian Government, led by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry about a year ago.
Minister Diggs told the gathering that when she took over as Ministry of Commerce and Industry, she emphasized and made a commitment to ensuring that such idea, as laid out in the Pro-poor Agenda for Prosperity and Development (PAPD) for improved business climate, support and development of SMEs, increased participation of Liberian businesses in the trade and commerce of the country, strengthening and increasing the trade facilitation institution would remain in the full front.
She said the occasion was a manifestation of a substantial step taken to ensure that the lives of the Liberian people continue to improve following the massive disruption of trade and the economy as the result of COVID-19 and subsequent Russia and Ukraine war.
For his part, World Bank Country Manager for Liberia, Dr. Khwima Nthara noted that the LIFT Project promises to transform the lives of ordinary Liberians in so many ways. Dr. Nthara said it will also improve the business environment for the private sector in order to create jobs for millions of people and that the initiative is at the heart of Liberia’s Pro-Poor Agenda for Prosperity and Development (PAPD).
He stressed the importance of good environmence in support of a flourishing private sector and went on to commend the Liberian Government for the significant progress made in stabilizing the micro-economy under the past four years.
The World Bank official observed that the private sector does not like bad micro-economic environment where there is inflation or high exchange rate.
“Apart from the stable micro-economy and good infrastructure, the first element of a good investment climate for the private sector is improvement of government system and processes that make it easier for investors to start and operate a business,” he added.
Dr. Nthara who officially concluded his tour of duty to Liberia last week said the most sustainable way to create more jobs is through the private sector based on large, medium or small enterprise or small enterprises.
“Congratulations Mr. President as Liberia today stands out in the region as a bacon of micro-economic stability and the facts are there to show,” Dr. Nthara observed.
The USD$40m LIFT Project, signed in April 2022 between the Liberian Government and the World Bank is aimed at addressing weak investment climate which limits investments and trade, to provide opportunity to SMEs to access markets and finance as well as address financial sector infrastructure needed for credit, checks and digital payments. The amount was approved on February 9, 2022, by the Board of Executive Directors of the International Development Association (IDA).
Jacob N.B. Parley
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