7 February 2014

Liberia: Finance Minister Admits to Errors

Finance Minister Amara Konneh has openly admitted to errors discovered recently in the 2013/14 national budget by lawmakers.

Minister Konneh told members of the House of Representatives on Tuesday in plenary at the Capitol that the errors as reflected in the national budget has no bearing on the disbursement as allotted for the two counties.

He apologized and expressed regret for errors, expressing the hope that members of that august body would pardon him for such unwarranted mistakes, even though he shifted the blame on his team at the Finance Ministry for not counter-checking before the publication of the budget.

During his first appearance before the House, Minister Konneh was also requested by the Plenary of the House of Representatives to provide detailed information on what was meant by 'Legislative Projects.' He was also requested to duly spell out the proportion of figures to each project-a response to which he is yet to give the lawmakers.

The clarification was briefly accepted, but for the second time, the House's decision was based on complaints submitted to it by Rivercess County District#2 Representative Francis S. Paye, in which he noted that the US$732,000.00 Social Development Fund for the County was placed under Rive Gee County.

Representative Paye's Letter to the House Plenary read: "We Extend to you our sincere compliments and to herewith draw your immediate attention to discrepancies discovered in the 2013/2014 Citizens Guide to the National Budget, released on Monday, January 13, 2014, to members of the National Legislature during delivery of the Annual Message of President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf which, from all indications, demand correction for the record sake, in order not to have our constituents doubtful over the frantic strides being collectively made by the august body in bringing social-economic growth and development to our various political sub-divisions."

"Whilst the error did not emanate from the National Legislature, but the Ministry of Finance, headed by Minister Amara Konneh, having juxtaposed, if not interchanged budget lines intended for Rivercess County under River Gee County, we find it highly inconceivable as the true intent of such grave errors found on pages 52-55, involving the US$732,000 social development funds allotted by concession companies operating in the former, among which are Anardarko Block 10, Chevron, LB11, Chevron LB12, ICC, LTTC, EJ&J and AmLib."

Representative Paye requested that Members of the House of Representatives ensure that every county in the country got its just benefits. Minister Konneh, in less than five minutes before the full membership of the House at the Capitol Building, pointed out that those errors would be cleared by his team, and that the final documentation would be submitted before the lawmakers for their perusal and approval.

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