This week, Liberians celebrated in the streets – faces painted, drums blaring, and dancing with abandon. They’re not rejoicing over some recent triumph by the Liberian soccer team or a local festival. The streets of Monrovia were overflowing because of debt relief. That’s right, debt relief. On Tuesday, Liberia secured nearly $5 billion in irrevocable debt relief from the World Bank, IMF, African Development Bank, and bilateral creditors. It’s a massive sum – the equivalent of roughly $1200 for every man, woman, and child in Liberia. As President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf stated, “today, ladies and gentlemen, is a day for us, as Liberians, to celebrate.” And celebrate they did. And so should we.
- When the Sirleaf Administration assumed office in January 2006, it didn’t have a single computer, chair, desk, or paper clip. The previous transitional government stole everything – bolted down or not. And many civil servants hadn’t been paid in months – if not years. Despite this, they found a way to mobilize enough expertise to secure an agreement the next year that cleared billions of dollars of loan arrears to World Bank, IMF, and other creditors.
- Also, the Sirleaf Administration pushed through numerous controversial pieces of legislation in order to secure debt relief – such as establishing a new Anti-Corruption Commission – despite controlling only 10 percent of the Liberian Congress. A truly tremendous display of courage and consensus building.
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