Wednesday, 20 April 2011

“Liberians’ Money”

Min. Ngafuan Tired of No-Credit Posture To Government On Governmental Projects

Nat Bayjay, (Temp. US #: 202-445-3622/LIB #: 231-77-402737)
Washington, DC, United States-
An obviously wary Augustine Ngafuan, representing Liberia’s interest at the Spring Meeting of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF), has said it is about time that Liberians stop labeling developmental projects back home as World Bank or IMF projects for they are Liberians’ projects.
“What the Liberian people need to know is that it is their money, it is not the World Bank’s. They’re Liberian projects…..we as a country will pay back against these credits”, the Finance Minister said during an FPA interview Monday in the American capital.
Explaining the difference between a credit and a grant, he continued: “What Liberia gets from the World Bank is what we call credits, it’s no grants. What do we mean is that post-HIPC completing point goes with an impression that these initiatives are initiatives that should be credited to the multilaterals but we are shareholders in the World Bank and IMF.”
He explained that the credits from the Bank are the most concessional in terms of long-term payment with very little interest rate.
Minister Ngafuan narrated that the credits are given for repayment over a 40-year life span in addition to a 10-year grace period: “The grant element of these funds is over 60%....technical if the Bank gives you a credit, 63% of that is free. You will only have to pay back 37%.”  
An IMF-World Bank initiative landed Liberia on the path that restored its borrowing status following the most-hailed huge debt waiver of US$4.6 billion that tied the post-war nation-an achievement the Finance Minister counts as a major boost for the country’s completion of the ‘Heavily Indebted Poor Countries’ (HIPC) Initiative.
He said it is more reason for Liberians to take multilaterals’ sponsored developmental projects back home as their own because the country in its post-HIPC completion point can’t get 100% loans but credits which Liberians will repay.
“Eventually, the Liberian government will be putting in its budgets amounts to repay these credits. So, it is self-defeating to call them World Bank projects. The Ghanaians don’t call them World Bank projects”, he lamented. 
Referencing developments in other countries whose credit is accredited to the governments of those countries regardless the sources of the funding, he added: “The Ghana and Botswana get enough World Bank initiatives. When you get to these countries you don’t care if the developments there come from the World Bank, the ADB or Ghanaian resources. You only want to see developments.”
The Minister heads a Liberian delegation to the Spring Meeting held jointly last week by the IMF and World Bank in Washington, DC. It brings together hundreds of participating journalists, government officials and others who discuss global economic performance.
The Spring Meeting has been highlighting global fuel crisis and high food prices that have plagued what both multilateral groupings have labeled as ‘unsatisfactory recovery’ in the aftermath of the global financial crisis.
Asked to give Liberia’s benefit from such an international gathering that is followed by an annual meeting sometimes in October, Ngafuan said: “We meet in spring to discuss global economic performance and to discuss with various stakeholders at the World Bank and meeting bilateral stakeholders…..specially issues that affect your country and how they can be addressed.”
He said Liberia as a country is a member of shareholder of the IMF and the World Bank: “And these meetings are meetings of shareholders. In fact, I as Minister of Finance and most ministers of finance across the world are governors to the Boards of the IMF and the World Bank.”
He revealed another package for the country’s recovery process: “[Though] I don’t want to put out the big news yet, the World Bank is considering additional support to infrastructure”, further hinting that it might be in the range of US$10 million.