A blissful Finance Minister Augustine Kpehe Ngafuan could only say a big thank you and commit Liberia to rigorous financial management after US Ambassador Linda Thomas Greenfield yesterday announced that her country has totally forgiven its remaining debt against Liberia.
“Today, the United States cancels nearly $30 million in remaining debt owed to various U.S. government agencies,” Ambassador Greenfield stated during a signing ceremony at the Ministry of Finance in Monrovia.
Besides yesterday’s announcement, the U.S. had already canceled US$390 million in bilateral claims, and provided US$211 million to clear Liberia’s arrears to the International Monetary Fund and the African Development Bank.
The American diplomat attributed the cancellation of the debt against Liberia to what she called “increasing international confidence in Liberia’s management of its public finances.”
In April 2009, commercial creditors forgave US$1.2 billion in Liberian debt, and then in June of this year, Liberia attained its greatest fiscal achievement when it reached Completion Point under the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries Initiative.
At this point, the international community forgave Liberia of US$4.6 billion debt.
“Today’s debt cancellations, Ambassador Greenfield said, “represents the United States’ confidence in all that Liberia has accomplished to reform its public finances.”
But more importantly, she indicated, it highlights the US Government’s in all that it Liberian counterpart will continue to do. “Good governance and sound management of public resources is a never-ending process — indeed, it is a journey that continues even in my country,” she said.
Until recently, the people of Liberia were struggling under a mountain of debt they had inherited from past regimes, the Ambassador recalled.
This debt once amounted to $4.6 billion dollars, money that over decades should have provided solid roads, clean water and good schools, but were misused or directed to the benefit of corrupt officials and their supporters.
When Liberia could no longer pay these debts, international creditors cut off the flow of money, leaving Liberia stranded, without access to capital.
However, the US Envoy said, when President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf took office, she said “Never again”, and her government put into place policies that has restored international trust and goodwill.
“Minister Ngafuan and officials of the Minister of Finance, I wish you the best of luck as you continue the critical work of creating the sound institutions, systems of checks and balances and public accountability that will ensure Liberia’s resources continue to be used in the best interests of its citizens and that it provides a platform for the future,” Ambassador Greenfield concluded her statement.
Minister Ngafuan in brief remarks hailed the US Government for the total forgiving of his country’s outstanding debt and noted that the ugly past cannot be repeated.
He commended the American Government and peoples for their numerous contributions to the rebuilding process of Liberia and noted that resources would be used for the benefit of Liberia and its people.