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Liberia Partners Forum Head of Delegation Statement

Randall L. Tobias, Director of U.S. Foreign Assistance and Administrator of USAID
World Bank
Washington, DC
February 13, 2007

On behalf of the American people, thank you, your Excellency, Ministers, fellow co-hosts of the Partners’ Forum, Distinguished Participants, Ladies and Gentlemen. It is an honor to be here today. We appreciate the broad participation of so many donors, development banks, international organizations, and NGOs who share our commitment to working with Liberia in this aptly titled Partners’ Forum.

As Secretary Rice said this morning, “the purpose of these efforts is nothing less than the transformation of Liberia—toward lasting peace, prosperity, and freedom for all Liberians.”  It is to just such a transformation that we pledge our steadfast support today.

This morning, Secretary Rice outlined the extent of our support for Liberia’s transition. We have requested from Congress more than $200 million in assistance over the next two years. These funds will support the priorities laid out by the Liberian government.

In my role as Director of U.S. Foreign Assistance and USAID Administrator, I will oversee our efforts to achieve these goals. And I intend to ensure that our actions match our words—that our programs do indeed support the remarkable goal that the people of Liberia have set for themselves.

By helping Liberians build the physical, institutional, and technical capacity to improve governance, and to champion improvements across the energy, health, financial, and environmental sectors; we can help build on the progress Liberia has already made.

The Government of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf stands out as a partner that has already proven to be highly effective at implementing the reforms necessary to achieve transformation, good governance, and economic growth. Liberia’s free and fair elections in the fall of 2005 were a model for democratic development. Since taking office in January 2006, the Government of Liberia has made remarkable progress.

Its accomplishments include the return of streetlights to Monrovia after 15 years, and the reconstruction of vital roads and bridges. This has increased security for the residents of Monrovia, and will facilitate the movement of people and goods, laying the groundwork for a vibrant economy and healthy society.

The government has rightly declared corruption the “number one public enemy.” It is following through on its commitment to eradicate corruption through civil service, administrative and fiscal management reforms.

We congratulate the Government on its excellent presentations today and welcome its Interim Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper. This Strategy recognizes that long-term stability and prosperity will require simultaneous efforts on all fronts, including: economic revitalization, good governance, infrastructure rehabilitation, service delivery, and security sector reform.

The United States supports a Liberian-led, integrated approach. The Liberian government has identified economic revitalization as vital to poverty reduction, growth, and long-term stability.

As such, since the beginning of Liberia’s transition, United States government assistance has helped to provide employment to approximately 25,000 war-affected persons, by giving them opportunities to earn a living rehabilitating critical roads, bridges, and public facilities.

U.S. assistance has contributed to Liberia’s efforts to address critical needs, such as reintegrating the displaced, responding to the concerns of marginalized youth, and addressing pervasive gender-based violence. Our FY 2007 and 2008 program will continue these efforts, and more.

We will expand investments in agriculture, forestry, and vocational training, working closely with the Liberians to help build a skills base. This is but one example of the United States’ commitment to Liberia’s own vision for a peaceful and prosperous future. We have similarly committed to supporting Liberia’s efforts to improve education, healthcare, infrastructure, governance, and security. This Partners’ Forum—which has brought together so many with an interest in seeing Liberia prosper—is an important milestone in Liberia’s transition.

I, again, extend my congratulations to President Johnson Sirleaf and her government for their visionary leadership, and my thanks to the international community for the partnership that has helped Liberia emerge from decades of strife. I hope this partnership will expand and continue its engagement with Liberia, helping this dynamic country to achieve its ambitious—and achievable—development and reform goals.

Thank you very much.



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