In 2012 Alone:U.S. Commits $205M To Growth, Development
- Pres. Sirleaf Expresses Gratitude
The bilateral relations between the United States of America and Liberia continue to gain higher marks, especially during this post-war era when the country needs every assistance necessary not only for reconstruction but also for sustaining peace, security and democracy.
Relations between Washington and Monrovia have taken on a more positive and rewarding trend growing out of Liberia's commitment to upholding good governance and basic democratic values which are at the core of America's relations.
In 2012 alone, the U.S. Government has committed a total of US$205 million to the development efforts of Liberia, a huge financial assistance graciously acknowledged by President Ellen Johnson in remarks commemorating the 236th independence anniversary of the US.
President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf thanked the government and people of the United States for the continuous support to Liberia, making the country a possible model of how a previously failed state can rehabilitate itself and regain its place in the comity of nations.
“A decade ago, no one could have predicted that Liberia would be listed among the fastest growing economies in the world; that our country would now play a significant role in the stability of the sub-region; or that Liberia would hold back-to-back democratic elections with a woman winning both times,” President Sirleaf said.
President Sirleaf reiterated that Liberia’s success so far is a result of strong support and partnership with the international community, emphasizing further that no country has been a greater friend, supporter and partner of Liberia than the United States of America.
“On the occasion of your 236th anniversary, we want to recognize your role in our nation’s rebirth and thank the American people for their generosity,” President Sirleaf said.
The Liberian Leader added that it is her hope and it will be the policy of her government that the partnership, going forward, will be characterized by three themes: mutual accountability, capacity enhancement, and ownership.
On Mutual Accountability, President Sirleaf indicated that her government is exercising greater scrutiny over how public resources are used, to avoid the kind of irresponsible management of public finance which got Liberia into debt, and suggested reciprocity on the part of partners.
“All aid monies spent by partners, including the United States, here in Liberia or on Liberia-related projects, get counted as foreign aid to Liberia. It is therefore in our interest to get the best value for the dollar,” she noted, adding, “It is in our interest that our partners – bilateral and NGOs – are themselves transparent in what they spend and how.”
On capacity enhancement, the Liberian leader re-echoed that the lack of capacity remains an encumbering impediment to the country’s development agenda.
However, she is pleased that the Governance and Economic Management Support Program (GEMS) has been modified to reflect the country’s priorities, and that this program is expected to build the capacities of personnel across government ministries and agencies.
“In utilizing and strengthening local systems, we together create that cadre of Liberians who would inherit and carry on those systems,” she pointed out.
On the issue of ownership, President Sirleaf recounted that during her recent visit to the United States, she was the guest speaker in the Peace Corps’ Loret Miller Ruppe Speaker Series where she floated the possibility of recruiting young Liberian graduates into a national service program and pairing them with Peace Corps Volunteers, where the Peace Corps would provide a model for a youth service corps focused on the education sector.
“It is a program that we can build, own and retain long after the Peace Corps have left,” she noted, adding that if the partnership is based on mutual accountability and enhances capacity, Liberians will own the result and the gains will be sustained over the long term.
Concluding, President Sirleaf reiterated that the ties that bind Liberia and the United States are strong and deep. “Our entire history is woven into the American experience. Our ideals, national symbols, the names we inherited, the ones we gave our towns and villages all reflected the intertwined history of our two countries,” she said, hoping that the partnership will grow stronger, and that the peoples will remain connected.
In his remarks, the US Chargé d’Affaires Ambassador Michael Arietti, said the United States takes pride in the size and scope of the partnership program to advance Liberia’s development, noting that his country’s efforts fully support the development priorities that Liberians have set for themselves.
“Liberia must own its development program, and the United States will continue to make every effort to align programs with the goals set by the Liberian government,” he said.
He disclosed that the United States is providing approximately US$205 million in development assistance to Liberia, noting that cooperation with Liberia has many facets, including strengthening the security sector; reforming and strengthening the education and health sectors; supporting efforts to build human capacity; improving governance; supporting civil society; rule of law and other elements of the democratic process; encouraging growth of the private sector, especially agriculture; and expanding people to people contacts through the Peace Corps and exchanges of scholarships.
Ambassador Arietti assured Liberians that as 2012 is an election year in the United States, no matter whoever wins the presidency, the United States will remain a reliable friend and partner.
“Our ties are deep and historic and rooted in common values,” he said, adding that they have been strengthened by the presence in the United States of many persons of Liberian origin.
He encouraged all of them to join in helping to develop Liberia as this is the time for all Liberians, wherever they are located, to examine how they might contribute to the rebuilding of this nation.