Millennium Challenge Corporation Delegation Holds Talks With Legislature

Thursday, 23rd July 2009
Monrovia, Liberia - A three-man delegation from the United States based Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) accompanied by Planning and Economic Affairs Minister Amara Konneh on Thursday held discussions with the President of the Senate  Vice President Joseph N. Boakai, House Speaker Alex Tyler and Senate President Pro-Tempore Cletus Wotorson in the conference room of the Capitol Building.

The Millennium Challenge Corporation, a sister agency of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), was created during the George Bush administration to reward countries that improve their performance in certain policy areas.
  
The MCC in December last  year selected Liberia for its Threshold Program which provides assistance to countries that are pursuing a policy reform agenda but have not yet qualified for Compact funding.
  
In separate statements, the three officials pledged the Legislature’s commitment to enacting legislation that will ensure compliance to the Threshold Program.
  
“It is not just a simple answer to say we are committed. It is for us to show this in what we do in the legislature in the area of the passage of those bills that buttress some of the actions we take,”
Vice President Boakai said.
  
He said in a bid to put in more time to its statutory duties, the legislature which usually took its break in July, last year passed a resolution to extend the commencement of its break to the end of August, to enable it deal with more critical issues.
  
He however noted that like other countries that are already on track, the situation in Liberia which is emerging from a war situation, is not normal, and hence that Liberians have to work overtime to put things back on course.
  
He informed the MCC delegation that the Legislature has been “stretching itself to be able to make things happen”. “We feel challenged. I think it is correctly so that people are rewarded for what they do. The legislators are definitely committed. This will be shown in our conduct, business and how we move forward,” Vice President Boakai further assured.
  
In his intervention, Speaker Tyler said the Legislature is already taking steps to comply with the Threshold Program of the Millennium Challenge Corporation, noting that the Land Reform and Public Financial Management bills “will be passed sooner or later”.
  
He said he was honored that Liberia was selected for the Threshold Program, and hoped Liberia would be able to meet with the challenges ahead, adding that the House would work along with the technicians to support this “very important program”.
  
For his part, Senate President Pro-Tempore Wotorson said the coming of the delegation to Liberia was a demonstration of their commitment to the country.
  
He said 14 years of instability should not be an excuse for “non-performance”, adding,  “We have made commitments to ensure that this country turns around at an accelerated pace”.
  
He explained that since he assumed the post of President Pro-Tempore, the Senate has passed 16 bills, and that most of these bills are economic bills that will bring employment to Liberians.
  
Mr. Wotorson assured the delegation that deliberation on the Financial Management Bill and the Revenue Code would commence next week.
  
He said the country is beginning to see a gradual reversal of the brain drain that characterized post-war Liberia, and that to further accelerate this process, he was proposing a Dual Citizenship Bill to ensure that competent and qualified Liberians are brought back home so that they can work with the government to bring capacity to the country.
  
“Where there is a will there is a way. This generation has the will to turn the country around. We want to ensure you that we will do it; we will take hold of our destiny,” he told the delegation.
  
In remarks earlier, the Managing Director of the Threshold Program of the Millennium Challenge Corporation, and head of delegation, Thomas Kelly, said Liberia’s selection was in recognition of strides its has made in its reform agenda, and its promises for reform.
  
He said the Threshold Program was an opportunity for the government to “integrate some extra assistance into a broader reform agenda to continue to push things forward”, and that the board of the Millennium Challenge Corporation would be watching just for this.
  
Mr. Kelly said part of the MCC’s mission to Liberia was to “come to understand what the government was thinking about in terms of its proposals in areas it has identified, and also commitment for it.
  
He described his delegation’s visit to Liberia as “excellent and productive”.
  
Briefing the Legislative officials earlier, Planning and Economic Affairs Minister Konneh said the threshold Program is “in recognition of progress that countries are making in key governance indicators”.
  
He observed that the Unity Party-led government has since its inception, made progress in “accountability, political stability, control of corruption and the rule of law, and that selection of Liberia for the threshold Program was in recognition of that hard work and as an incentive to do more”.
  
Minister Konneh said since Liberia was selected last year for the threshold Program, the Governance Commission, Ministries of Lands, Mines and Energy, Finance, Commerce and Foreign Affairs, as well as the National Investment Commission have been working on improving Girls’ Primary Education Completion rate, Land Rights and Trade Policy that will help integrate Liberians with regional and international economies.