The NEWS (Monrovia)

24 April 2014

Liberia: 'Reckless, Irresponsible Statement'

A week after two lawmakers suggested that Finance Minister Amara Konneh should resign or be dismissed for alleged poor performance in handling the budget, the Ministry has reacted, describing the statement by Representative Isaac Roland and Senator George Tengbeh as "reckless and irresponsible".

In a release issued Wednesday, the Ministry said the call by the two lawmakers for the Finance Minister to resign or be dismissed is "disappointing, comical, reckless and irresponsible" statement made by two "self-serving and politically motivated lawmakers".

"What Honorable Isaac Roland and Senator George Tengbeh displayed by those utterances is their utter lack of understanding of public finance and the Liberian budgeting process. Additionally, one would think that when Minister Konneh took personal responsibility for the collective actions of the Government, including lawmakers, he would be commended for playing the role of a professionally matured and responsible public official who is not interested in passing the buck," a release issued by the Finance Ministry said.

According to the Finance Ministry, Honorable Isaac Roland sits on the Ways, Means and Finance Committee and knows that the revenue projections are outcomes of tense political and technical discussions between the Executive and Legislative Branches of Government.

The release said Honorable Roland is aware that the Ways, Means, Finance and Budget Committee "discovered new revenues" that became part of the revenue envelop. It turns out that most of these "discovered revenues" never materialize and thereby triggering the so-called shortfall.

"Shouldn't Honorable Roland demonstrate responsible leadership to take some responsibility since he is part of the Ways, Means and Finance committee? Or maybe he is never paying attention to the discussions and so doesn't understand the intrigues," the Finance Ministry added.

Continuing, the release said Senator Tengbeh needs to understand that the National Legislature is the one that has failed to utilize the expertise of the Legislative Budget Office (LBO) that was set up to give them technical advice on the issues relating to the budget.

"Senator Tengbeh who enjoys very little support from his constituency after being elected by less than 25% of the voting population should find other ways to accelerate the implementation of ongoing projects in Lofa County, especially in the agriculture and road sectors rather than trying to place the blame on other officials who are trying their very best to ensure that resources are raised to finance the country's development. Maybe Senator is not aware that Minister Konneh and team have been working very hard to mobilize resources for the construction of the Gbarnga-Konia highway for which feasibility studies have been completed. Additionally, Minister Konneh and team have also mobilized closed to US$200 million to support small tree crops growers mainly in Lofa County," the Finance Ministry stressed in the release.

Attacking the lawmaker's political life, the Finance Ministry indicated that It's probably time for Senator Tengbeh to tell the people of Lofa what he has done for them since he became senator.

"If Honorable Roland and Senator Tengbeh want to be champions for any noble cause, they should prepare themselves to support a reduction in recurring spending across the Government so that resources are freed to make investments that have high economic and social returns," the ministry blasted.

The Authorities of the Ministry of Finance wishes to inform the Liberian people that they remain committed to doing the people's business with dedication and will not be distracted by lawmakers who have interest in serving their political benefactors or gaining unnecessary popularity.

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