5 February Press Brief

Monday, 5th February 2007

Members of the Press:

Welcome once again to our regular weekly Press briefing.

The Focus of today’s briefing is on the upcoming partnership Forum scheduled to take place in Washington DC, the United States, from the 13th – 14th of February. The Liberia Partnership Forum is the latest in a series of international conferences to be held since the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement in 2003.

The Government-led Forum is being hosted in collaboration with the World Bank, the Government of the United States, the United Nations, the European Commission, the International Monetary Fund and the African Development Bank.

President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf will open the Forum. The President’s speech at the Conference will focus mainly on Liberia’s economic recovery program. The President will be addressing donors on progress government has made thus far in its efforts to tackle the many issues facing the country and the challenges ahead.  President Johnson Sirleaf will also be touching on the country’s debt problem and will be making the case for debt relief. You all would agree that there is a lot of international goodwill toward Liberia, judging from pledges friendly countries have made toward the economic revitalization of the country.  The road between commitment and delivery on those commitments has been slow. The President will be urging our partners to accelerate implementation on programs which have been earmarked by making good on their commitments.

Also expected to make remarks at the Conference are the President of the World Bank, Paul Wolfowitz; US Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice, the European Commission Development Commissioner Luis Michel, the African Development Bank President, Donald Kabaruka, and the Managing Director of the IMF, Rodrigo de Rato.

The Main focus of the conference is on the Interim Poverty Reduction Strategy. It is not a pledging conference per se. The government has identified five key objectives of the conference:

1. To take forward and strengthen the partnership between the Government of Liberia and Donors.

2. To achieve endorsement of the IPRS by the international community;

3. To engage both traditional and non-traditional donors in the national Reconstruction and Development agenda.

4. To agree on effective means of delivering external assistance and utilizing Domestic and External resources.

Conference participants will include bilateral and multilateral development partners as well as representatives of both international and national non-governmental organizations engaged in Liberia.

At the Conference, the Government hopes to garner support for the reconstruction process and seek the engagement of new donors. The Forum will provide the avenue for deepened donor-government dialogue on aid coordination and harmonization to promote improved delivery of donor assistance to the people of Liberia.

To further address the economic revitilaton of Liberia, the Ministry of Commerce and Trade and the National Investment Commission are holding a Private Sector Forum on February 15, in Washington, DC. This private sector forum is sponsored by the International Finance Corporation, Corporate Council for Africa, and the Overseas Private foreign and domestic investment in Liberia, as well as Improved Public-Private Sector Dialogue. Participants are drawn from the international private business community, with companies already engaged in the country, bearing testimony to the opportunities in Liberia.

By way of announcement, the President will be hosting her regular monthly call-in radio Program, “Conversation with the President” on Thursday, February 8. The Program will be broadcast live from ELBC, and relayed by STAR Radio; Truth-FM; UMIL, Veritas, SKYY-FM as well as all affiliate radio stations throughout the country.

I thank you