Liberia’s Fisheries Sector Springs Forth, As World Bank Provides Initial $3.7 Million

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A $3.7 million USD agreement to improve Liberia’s fishery sector has been signed between the National Fisheries and Aquaculture Authority (NaFAA) and the World Bank.

Liberia’s Finance Minister Samuel Tweh, signed for the government while World Bank Country Manager for Liberia, Khwima Nthara signed on behalf of development partners .

Making brief remarks, Finance Minister Samuel Tweh, described the signing as significant to government development agenda which will provide jobs and boost the fishery sector. “ This project is going to have impact for Liberians, to be able to export more and to be able to consume more fish.” he said. He assured the partners that government is excited about the project and promised government’s commitment to living up to their portion of the agreement aimed at improving the country’s fishery sector .

Minister Tweh said, the sector which was dormant for years, is greatly contributing to the country’s revenue sector under the leadership of the current Managing Director of National Fisheries and Aquaculture (NaFAA), Mrs. Emma Glassco “I can say from the revenue standpoint you are meaningfully contributing to the government revenue.” Tweh said.

He continue, “ When you walk into my office and said Minister, with the appointment of the President we will turn the fishery sector into a serious contributor to the government budget , I said well let’s give it a try because it has not been doing much, but because of your passion, capability and push the sector is revamping.” The Finance boss said.

Meanwhile, Minister Tweh said, the George Weah government remains the hallmark for Liberia’s development and as such the country will make progress despite challenges which they are tackling including corruption, creating conducive business sector, and ensuring transparency.

He said, one of the reasons why doing business is challenging in Liberia is due to high cost of electricity because a kilowatts cost for electricity is high in Liberia .“Significant development is going to happen with in the management of the LEC, we’re working to provide or have a donor conference for one hundred nine million United States dollars for a five year plan for the management there.” Finance Minister Samuel Tweh, also disclosed that government is paying off the Liberia Electricity Corporation (LEC) dept and described the entity as a “CASH COW.”

He said currently, LEC is generating negative cash flow and operating at a lost, something the George Weah government is tackling by paying off the entity’s debt but due to fiscal challenges government has been a little bit behind in paying off the dept but will do it soon.

“Under the instruction of the President, I announced that the President has committed that in the next few weeks we will clear one million of LEC dept, the team here is processing six hundred thousand of that.” he said.

Minister Tweh said government was also able to passed the power theft laws last year and is committed to reducing the technical and commercial loses to people doing business in Liberia.

The finance boss also reveals that the Liberian government has paid its debt to the Liberia Water and Sewer Corporation (LWSC) dating far back from the previous government.

He acknowledged that there will be challenges but said, government is committed to resolving those challenges “ we not afraid of problems , we see problems we confront them and we check those boxes and we move forward .” He said.

Also making remarks at the signing ceremony, Mr. Khwima Nthara , World Bank Country Manager for Liberia,said the agreement with the Liberian government is significant to the recovery of the country and its people .

He said the World Bank believes that more can be done but hope that under the new project they can scale up the activities.

Mr. Nthara stressed that going forward under the project, they will have integrated lessons learned from other project learned from West Africa, at the regional and national levels.

“Because we will like to support Liberia in a big way we decided to invest , scale up in this sector that’s why Liberia is not going to be getting $12 million ,$24 million but $40 million so that the support in this sector can be more transformative.” Mr. Khwima Nthara said .

The US$40 million project titled “Sustainable Management of the Fisheries Project” aims to sustain the gains of the WARFP in Liberia and develop national capacities to improve the value-added and increase the economic contribution of the fisheries sector and the restoration of key infrastructure to enhance the sector’s contribution to the economy.

The new World Bank National Fisheries Project will focus on the rehabilitation and expansion of the Mesurado Fishing Pier to a state-of-the-art modern fishing port with onshore processing facilities for value addition.

The Project will also prioritize the establishment of landing jetties in five coastal counties with densely populated fishing communities such as Montserrado, Grand Bassa among others in an effort to reduce huge post-harvest loss and supply the domestic market with high quality of fish products which has a fish demand deficit of 33, 000 metric tons.

The World Bank Country boss for Liberia said it will evolved investment , improving handling of the fisher sector, promote agriculture amongst others .

Under the West African regional project the World Bank boss said Liberia benefited $12 million USD and the project help drafted their policies and regulation that was passed in 2019 .

Mr. Khwima Nthara said the sector will need the participation of all stakeholders to make it a success, and lauded the director general for her commitment to the effort including Liberia’s Finance Minister and most especially President George Weah for his leadership ability.

He said past support under previous project helped boosts license transparence , monetary system for industrial people , tackled illegal fishing amongst others.