ETON Deal Not Dead
World Bank’s recent attempt to offer US$500 Million Loan facilities to the Liberian Government to boost road development in the country has generated mixed reactions amongst critics and supporters of the George Manneh Weah regime; this latest debate has infused misinterpretation in the minds of many ordinary Liberians about the fate of two other controversial loan deals, including ETON and EBOMAF which preceded the offer from the World Bank. There are those who believe that the World Bank’s offer has totally invalidated the legitimacy of the ETON and EBOMAF’s deals, while others still hold on to the integrity of the deals and encourage the government to take advantage of the opportunity to modernize Liberia’s roads.
But The As the Public Agenda Reports, while the debate is still ongoing, Deputy Information Minister for Public Affairs, Eugene Lamin Fahngon, has provided some clarity on the various loan deals recently during a regular press briefing at the Ministry in Monrovia.
Addressing the Liberian media, Deputy Minister Fahngon disclosed that a high power delegation from the Eton Finance PTE Limited was in Monrovia to finalize discussions relating to the disbursement of the US$ 534.4 million.
ETON is Asian company with which the government signed an agreement to obtain the amount for the pavement of Liberia’s coastal highways and mini stadiums.
Debunking critics, Min. Fahngon clarified that the ETON Deal “is not dead”, adding that although the agreement has already been ratified by the Liberian National Legislature as required by law, discussions were still being held with the donors with Liberian authorities, particularly with officials of the Executive Branch.
Pres. Weah who assumed power on January 22, 2018 as Liberia’s 24th President said, road connectivity across Liberia will be the cornerstone of his administration’s priorities to promote the regime’s pro-poor agendawhile at the same time improving Liberia’s much criticized educational system; the Liberian Leader also promised to invest in agriculture and health.
The President assured Liberians that he would enhance a convenient climate to diversify the economy and fight corruption.
However, Min. Fahngon said, in regards to those priorities, a feasibility studies funded by donor partners, including the World Bank, the IMF and the European Union was done on how best to bridge the infrastructural development gaps across Liberia. The studies, according to him, highlighted road connectivity and electricity as key areas of priority to put Liberia on the development trajectory.
According to reports, although Liberia is 171 years old, successive political regimes were only able to achieve the pavement of 1,000 roads across the country, leaving a huge deficit of 11,00 kilometers rugged roads.
Perhaps understanding the huge deficit in the infrastructure sector, Pres. Weah immediately upon taking power in January commenced a search forUSD$3.4 billion needed for the construction of the 11,000 kilometers of paved roads in the entire country; the search reportedly led him to ETON Finance PTE Limited which made a commitment of a USD$534.4 Million loan to the government and another USD$43.5 Million from a Burkinabe based financier, EBOMAF, both of which have been enacted into law by the Liberian Legislature.
Public Works Minister, Mobutu Vlah Nyenpan at a news conference in Monrovia recently said, the Government was also in negotiation with the United States Government, through the Millennium Compact Challenge, USAID and other institutions to offer assistance; he confirmed that the results from the negotiations were optimistic, adding that the actual road construction work across the country will last for three years beginning next year.