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House Probes Finance Over US$650,000

By Grace Q. Bryant

Nimba County District 4 Representative, Ernest M. Manseah, has written a communication to the plenary to invite the Minister of Finance and Development Planning to provide reasons why the US$650,000 default payment to the European Investment Bank cannot be made.

According to Rep. Manseah’s communication, during the January 29, State of the Nation Address (SONA), several issues confronting the economy were brought to the attention of the public by President Joseph Boakai, adding that the country has been placed under sanction by regional bodies such as the African Union (AU) and the African Development Bank (AFDB), due to the government’s inability to live up to its financial obligations with these institutions.

“The President further narrated that due to a default payment of about US$650,000 to the European Investment Bank (EIB), the Bank is preventing the disbursement of US$13million intended for the construction of the Sanniquellie-Loguatuo road,” he explained.

He told plenary that the Sanniquellie-Loguatuo road project forms part of the Mano River Union Road Development and Transport Facilitation Program- Phase II, which affects the 20km of road between Fish Town and Kelipo in River Gee County; and 47.1km Sanniquellie-Loguatuo, Nimba County Road segments in Liberia, to a bordering town of Gbeunta in Cote D’Ivoire.

“The project is jointly funded by the African Development Funds, the European Union, European Investment Bank, and the Government of Liberia, and is expected to be completed by December 2024 with an estimated total cost of US$61.88 million. Out of this, the Government of Liberia is expected to contribute about 1.34 million, accounting for 2.1 percent of the project’s total cost,” he added.

It can be recalled that the Government of Liberia, with co-financing arrangement with Arcelor Mittal Liberia (AML), awarded a similar road contract to a Senegalese firm, Sahelian Company of Enterprise (CSE), sometimes in 2013, but due to the delay in payment to CSE, this project has lasted for the past 10 years. The contract, if all funds were paid in time, would have lasted for less than 4 years. This situation sometimes leads to the government paying excess amount in claims to the contractor and causes unnecessary safety issues for commuters along these corridors.

“We as people of the great mountain land of Nimba appreciate the government for the many development projects in our county. I’m afraid that if the government does not give priority to this default payment to allow the EIB to disburse the 13million, the project may encounter similar situation like the Ganta-Yekepa Road currently under construction by the CSE,” he noted.

The plenary ordered the Committee on Ways Means and Finance to investigate the Minister of Finance and Development and Planning (MFDP) over reasons why the US$650,000 default payment cannot be made, to allow the timely disbursement of 13 million, and report next Tuesday.

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