7 May 2014

Liberia: Double Dose for Amara Konneh

The issue of budget shortfall for this year is seemingly not being taken lightly by the branches of government, beginning with the Judiciary, which summoned the Minister of Finance, Amara Konneh, to give reasons why their fiscal allocation was being tempered with, followed the Liberian Senate that has also summoned the Finance Minister to state reasons for the short, and his response to Senator George Tingbeh of Lofa County.

Now the House of Representatives have joined the call for the Minister to appear.

The House took the decision Tuesday during plenary based on a communication written by Grand Kru County Representative Numene Bartewa to the plenary.

Rep. Bartewa observed: "Indeed, Mr. Speaker and esteemed colleagues, please allow me to bring to your attention the current serious national financial problem facing the Government of Liberia which is referred to as budget short fall reported by the executive branch of the government through the Ministry of Finance that is negatively undermining our service delivery programs as a government to the people of this country. As you may be aware, in view of this reported budgetary short fall, other government essential programs and projects for which funds were appropriated in the national budget cannot be attended to and the budget year is again virtually at its end."

Explaining further, the Grand Kru County lawmaker said, considering that this very problem of budget short fall was experienced during the last fiscal year, and noting that the problem is even becoming worst day by day for which today other essential programs and projects of government cannot be successfully implemented, there is a need for the House to act without further delay.

He also recommended that these were the very financial problems that the Government of Liberia did not want to experience in the future for which it signed and ratified about sixty-six concessional agreements valued about six billion United Stated dollars since the inception of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf led government eight years ago, recommending that plenary sets up an ad-hoc monitoring and evaluation committee that will carry out a thorough assessment and review of the operation of every concession with which this government has an agreement in order to ascertain whether it is living up to its financial obligation to the government.

He added that during the requested appearance of the Minister, he (Konneh) should be able to state which sector of the economy that is not responding to government revenue support so that they will know which action to take. The communication maintained that the Minister of Finance should explain to the people of Liberia his plans and strategies in providing lasting solution to the problem of budgetary short fall.

He noted that the Public Financial Management law of 2009 of Liberia gave him (Konneh) the statutory responsibility to scrupulously implement the national budget after its passage into law by the Liberian Legislature and subsequently signed into law by the President without any alteration.

"Moreover the same PFM act of 2009 provides for the establishment of national revenue consolidated account to which all government revenue should be directed. Why the minister has not been providing information on balances on this account at the expiration of every fiscal year since its establishment in compliance with government policy on transparency, accountability and openness," he asked?

Meanwhile, Bong County Representative Edward Kafia, made a motion for Minister Amara Konneh to appear before the full plenary of the House of Representatives next Tuesday at 10:00am to answer to their concerns.

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