Civil society meeting with German Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development and Liberian Min

16 April 2007 | Minutes

  • On the Africa Action Plan, donors have not lived up to their Monterrey commitments. Progress and change on the Africa Action Plan is to be discussed tomorrow.
  • We need to relieve Liberia of its debt after so many years of civil war.
  • On doubling aid to Africa, investment is also needed in order fulfil the MDGs.
  • Need to strengthen women’s access to land rights and titles.
  • investment is a major point for energy efficiency and renewables.
  • On peace and security, they are supporting regional organisations in Africa and African ownership.
  • HIV/AIDS and the situation of women. Universal access to prevention, care, drugs etc is needed as well as health systems.
  • G8 debt relieve in 1999 decided on the right things. What is carried through is also important.
  • G8 and climate change: the EU 20 per cent commitment (or 30 per cent depending on others).
  • Need to improve access of the poor to energy.
  • Supporting investment to reduce CO2.
  • Adaptation to climate change.
  • Forest global good, especially rainforests.
  • WB has to scale up its financing in all of these respects.

Antoinette M. Sayeh

  • Liberia is reeling from the inheritance of 15 years of civil war and economic mismanagement.
  • Development Committee will be looking at the Africa Action Plan as well as fragile states.
  • Infrastructure has been destroyed, there is no grid, no roads and no water.
  • They are trying to rebuild the social capital and deal with the problem of over-aged students whose education was interrupted because of civil conflict.
  • The health system is dependent on NGOs.
  • Unemployment is high, and there are no statistics to record this.
  • On the broader corruption fight they are prosecuting previous governors for pillaging etc.
  • On debt they are trying to find a way to deal with $4 billion of external debt. HIPC decision point. They were pleased with the G8 decision of last night.

Emira Woods of the institute for policy studies referred to the fact that Liberia’s debt is increasing steadily and is being hampered by arrears clearance; to vulture funds; and to trade and climate change, given that the investment model for Liberia is based heavily on extractives. She asked what Germany is doing about all of these things.

Antonio Tricarico referred to the European World Bank campaign around IDA 15 which is looking at policy conditionality and climate change and fossil fuel funding. He urged for European policy coherence within and without the European Union, and the need to be consistent. Also asked for a common European position with regard to Wolfowitz.

Richard Hermele from Oxfam Germany asked about the competition between adaptation needs and poverty reduction in terms of financing.

Sayeh responded that Liberia, Sudan and Somalia had different debt terms as they were left out of HIPC. Getting shareholders to agree on financing has taken some time. Looking at what internal resources are available without additional financing. They also have a sizeable commercial debt. Between 1 and 1.5 billion. Good progress was made at the donor’s meeting in February on this issue. They want a decision point before the end of the financial year.

On vulture funds, all of their commercial debt is currently held by vulture funds. The Swiss government has been providing good legal and financial advice on this. Their strategy is to limit litigation as they want to avoid vulture funds suing. On EIs and trade: Liberia has timber, iron ore and diamonds. In the past these were not used for the benefit of Liberians. The new forestry law has been addressing some of the issues.

Heide-Marie pointed out that not everyone has been following through on debt. Better control over hedge funds is needed. On IDA 15 she agrees on the need for reduced conditionality. Hopes to have all on board for IDA 15 replenishment. On the EIR, she said that ‘phase out’ of WB funding for fossil fuels was not realistic. Countries need to be as efficient as possible with their energy, and the World Bank could help with this. She has always advocated for increased investment in renewables. It is an economic question.

On adaptation- she advocates for the taxation of aviation fuel. This should be taxed and the revenue used to finance adaptation.