World Bank, Donors Threaten to Withhold Support for Liberia

By: Josephus Moses Gray
Monrovia, Liberia

The Perspective
Atlanta, Georgia
June 2, 2005


The World Bank Representative for Africa, Mr. Matts Karlson says donors’ institutions including the World Bank will not increase support to Liberia unless the National Transitional Government of Liberia (NTGL) institutes sound economic governance.

He maintained that given the unsatisfactory progress made on economic governance since the inception of the power sharing transitional government, Liberia’s donors are not happy. He also commented that donors would not deliver on previous commitments made toward the reconstruction of the war-torn West African nation except economic governance is given proper attention.

The World Bank executive spoke at the weekly news briefing held by the United Nations Mission in Liberia last Wednesday at the mission’s headquarters in Congo Town.

“We need to concentrate on the issue of corruptions and financial malpractices unswervingly so as to give confidence to the Donors,” Mr. Karlson said.

He pointed out that it is now time that the NTGL along with her international partners confront the question of financial mal-practices.

He further maintained that in confronting the issue of corruption in Liberia, the Partners and the Government need to look at issues like how revenues coming into the government are managed by the revenue generating agencies and the work of the cash management committee.

As it relates to control of expenditures, the World Bank Executive asked how the Central Bank of Liberia and Ministry of Finance operate, how the Contracts and Monopoly Commission and the Governance Reform Commission are delivering on the commitments given by the Comprehensive Peace Accord.

Mr. Karlson who also spoke of public financial management noted that these things are significant because Liberia can’t expect the donors to deliver on the commitments to reconstruction unless these things work.

He said though the Copenhagen meeting was not a Donor pledging conference but one that was intended to check on how Liberia is doing in terms of its strengths and weaknesses as outlined by the Donors in their commitments..

However, he revealed that the Copenhagen meeting established that the major weakness on the part of theLiberian transitional administration was the issue of putting into place financial supremacy in terms of economic governance.

The Minister of Planning and Economic Affairs who also spoke at the briefing stressed the need for the NTGL to halt the widespread corruption that has characterized the transitional tenure.

Minister Christian Herbert re-echoed the demands of the participants at the just ended Result Focused Transitional Framework (RFTF) annual Technical meeting, reiterating that based on the outcome of the ECOWAS audit, the government must take action.

According to him, the International community is requesting that those brought to book under the audit should be punished - this will serve as a deterrent to would be corrupt officials.The power sharing Interim Government has come under constant criticism at home and abroad for not demonstrating financial prudence.

Though several key officials in the Bryant Chaired government have accused of corruption, just a handful has been dismissed or suspended by the Chairman. Regrettably, nothing has been done by the Bryant government to recover the stolen funds.

Given level at which corruption permeates Liberian government, the RFTF technical meeting which was intended to review the progress made in Liberia in the wake of the Donors commitment, could not easily be concluded without corruption being the core issue. The Copenhagen participants requested that the NTGL punish corrupt officials and combat corruptions.

They mandated that the NTGL institute sound financial management systems characterized by accountability and transparency, noting, this will enhance the credibility of the government among its own people.