Liberia's Finance Minister Amara M. Konneh
Liberia's Finance Minister Amara M. Konneh

In an unprecedented move, the World Bank President Robert Zoelick has approved the request of the g7+ group of fragile states, which includes Liberia, to be given a voice in reviewing the International Development Association’s Sixteenth Allocations (IDA 16).

IDA is the World Bank’s fund that provides grants and interest-free loans to the world’s poorest countries.  IDA provides funding to reduce poverty in 81 countries worldwide, 39 of which are in Africa.  IDA 16 runs from July 2011 to June 2014 and is worth $49.3 billion.  The mid-term review will take stock of the program to ensure that its policies and funding meet the needs of the world poorest countries it is intended to support.

During a meeting with World Bank President Robert Zoellick on Friday, April 20, 2012, Finance Minister Amara Konneh requested on behalf of the g7+ Group that the bloc be consulted during the upcoming IDA 16 mid-term review. During the meeting, Minister Konneh said “the g7+ countries request increased IDA allocations to fragile states, and ask that g7+ be fully consulted on the review of IDA allocations to fragile states to be tabled at the IDA16 mid-term review. The g7+ believes that it must be fully consulted on the bank’s preparatory work for the IDA16 mid-term review where there is a large block on fragile states. In the past, rich and larger countries have dominated discussions.” 

In response, World Bank President Robert Zoelick said “the g7+ countries are a very important bloc among IDA countries. The World Bank welcomes your request for consultation on the midterm review of IDA 16.  We will not only consult with you, we invite you to be a part of the IDA Review Working Group.”

Liberia was then chosen by the g7+ countries to represent the bloc at IDA 16 review in November, which will evaluate the fund’s performance and policies that affects the world’s poorest countries.

In Liberia, IDA 16 funding has focused on the three main areas of: Infrastructure and basic services; economic revitalization; and governance and rule of Law.  Specific projects include road rehabilitation, the provision of electricity and improving public financial management.  To have a voice in its review will enable Liberia to ensure that IDA funding is sufficient to meet the needs of the poor, especially in fragile states where the need is greatest.  This is an opportunity for Liberia to take a leading role by representing IDA recipients on a global level. 

It is an opportunity to ensure that World Bank funding is aligned to national priorities and that sufficient emergency and crisis financing is available to cover events such as natural disasters, earthquakes, tsunamis or the caterpillar crisis that routinely threatens Liberia’s agriculture sector.  It is also an opportunity to ensure that support is available to countries during unexpected financial crisis and sharp rises in the price of food and fuel. 

The participation in the IDA review has been limited to a short list of donor countries that include the United States, the United Kingdom and France.  Liberia, on behalf the g7+, now joins this group in an effort to ensure that the voice of the developing world is represented at the table.

In another development, Minister Konneh has also called for a substantial shift of the bank’s administrative resources and staff to g7+ countries to enhance the skill mix in fragile states.  “We would like to see more senior, experienced staff to help us navigate complex political economies and manage the risks of program failure and renewed conflict in our countries,” Minister Konneh said