On behalf of the World Bank Group, its President, Dr. Jim Yong Kim has expressed deep condolences to the government and people of Liberia for the human and other loses sustained due to the Ebola virus disease. “It’s a great honor for me to be here. On the one hand, I share the sadness of the Liberian people for the many deaths in the country has suffered due to the Ebola virus disease,” he said, promising, “We are with the President, we are with her Government, we are with the Liberian people until we get to zero new Ebola cases.”
According to an Executive Mansion release, Dr. Kim made the statement during a joint press stakeout with President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf in the foyer of the Foreign Ministry during a one-day visit to Liberia. He led a high-level delegation to the country to express solidarity with the Liberian people for the losses sustained due to the Ebola outbreak and to commit the World Bank Group to remaining with Liberia until the crisis is over.
The World Bank Group President expressed his enormous admiration for the Liberian Government especially President Sirleaf’s leadership in battling this terrible epidemic. He encouraged the Liberian leader to continue working with her neighbors to strengthen the regional response and promote greater regional integration. “This epidemic will not be over until everywhere and everyone in every country gets to zero new cases.”
During his meeting with President Sirleaf, Dr. Kim said discussions centered around finishing the job on Ebola and beginning to work on economic recovery. He assured the World Bank Group’s commitment to help Liberia in the coming 18 months in five areas: First, the World Bank Group – which has already provided US$200 million to Liberia to fight the Ebola virus disease – will continue to support President Sirleaf’s ambitious plan to get to zero new cases as soon as possible. He said this involves making sure that every community is protected from Ebola and that all Liberians have access to the health care they deserve.
Secondly, Dr. Kim emphasized that despite battling the Ebola epidemic, Liberia must begin working on economic recovery. As such, the World Bank Group will lend support to the agriculture sector. “Agriculture is a key pillar of the Liberian economy and we are concerned that agricultural production has dropped as a result of the Ebola epidemic,” the World Bank Group President assured, adding, “We will help Liberian farmers recover from the crisis and must make sure that the Ebola epidemic is not followed by a food security crisis.”
Dr. Kim assured Government of the World Bank Group’s support to help improve selected infrastructure that are critical for economic competitiveness – such as urban infrastructure, access to electricity and the construction of roads and bridges that connect farmers to markets. “We need to help Liberians create jobs to help people recover from income losses as a result of the economic slowdown caused by the epidemic,” he said.
Dr. Kim further noted that the World Bank Group is working to bring the private sector back and stressed that they were organizing a roundtable meeting in Accra, Ghana on Tuesday, December 2, on this issue with private companies working in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea to find out what the Bank Group needs to do to help bring them back.
The World Bank Group President said that they will continue to work with their private sector arm, International Finance Corporation (IFC), to provide liquidity to local banks to support Small and Medium-Size Enterprises and local entrepreneurs and farmers. He announced that the IFC’s executive vice president Jin-Yong Cai signed a US$7.5 million loan with EcoBank – Liberia on Tuesday, December 2.
Dr. Kim promised to help the government manage the consequences of the epidemics on the public accounts. “We are working closely with the International Monetary Fund and the African Development Bank and we are preparing several tranches of budget support,” the World Bank Group President assured.