Liberia Pushes for More Debt Relief, `Soft Loans,' Johnson-Sirleaf Says
Liberian President Ellen Johnson- Sirleaf said she will push for more debt relief and seek “soft loans” as the West African nation rebuilds its economy hurt by civil war.
Liberia expects a “small segment” of bilateral debt to be cancelled at a meeting in Paris scheduled for Sept. 17, Johnson- Sirleaf said in an interview in Oslo, Norway today.
The International Monetary Fund and World Bank pledged on June 29 to cancel $4.6 billion of Liberia’s foreign debt, allowing the country to start borrowing from commercial banks and multilateral lenders again. The 14-year civil war in Liberia, which ended in 2003, killed 250,000 people and destroyed most of the country’s infrastructure.
The IMF has already provided some loans and “we hope also we’ll qualify for some of the soft loans of the World Bank and the African Development Bank,” Johnson-Sirleaf said.
Liberia will lobby Norway’s Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg during meetings with him and other government officials to support total debt relief for the country, the president said.
The government is also advocating the sale of mineral rights in exchange for commitments to build infrastructure, Johnson-Sirleaf said.
“The kinds of swaps that will enable us particularly to conserve our forest and use that to build infrastructure, we’re very interested in that,” she said.