The NEWS (Monrovia)

2 July 2014

Liberia: 'Expect More Turbulences'

The Minister of Finance Amara Konneh says, Liberians should expect more budgetary constrains during the currently budgetary 2014/2015 budget period. He said constrains will be due to small revenue envelop and expansion of the government.

"The Government is getting bigger and the revenue envelop is small," Minister Konneh said.

The Finance Minister made the assertion Tuesday, at ceremony marking the formal merger of the Ministries of Finance and Planning. The Ministries, by Act of the legislature shall now be called "the Ministry of Finance & Development Planning".

Minister Konneh told the gathering that the economy will experience budgetary constraints, owing to the fact that the very structure of the economy that led to budgetary shortfall in time past has not really changed, and also, the situation of the global economy continues to remain constant.

He attributed the budgetary constrains to internal and external factors, adding that internal steps were taken to address the increasing expenditure of the government.

Minister Konneh termed the merger of the two government entities, which took effect yesterday, as a crucial and historical turning point in the quest to build a vibrant, dynamic and professional public sector in the country.

The Finance Minister said the policy creation behind the formation of the two agencies was designed to bring together synergies to the government through the avoidance of duplication of gaps in the function of the Ministry of Finance and Ministry of Planning, and to improve tax administration in the country; thereby resulting to better allocation in terms of human and financial resources and better service delivery.

He said his stewardship will remain open to ideas that will broaden the space for constructive discussion and dialogue, stressing that it is about time to reform the public sector and employees of government should strive towards that.

The Finance Minister believes that the reform process will not come easily, noting that "there will be rough roads ahead".

However, he assured employees of the Ministry of managing the process responsibly, and that they should be fully aware that the law must be implemented while there is room for compassion.

Making clarification regarding the function of the Finance & Development Planning Minister, Mr. Konneh said the merger clearly indicates that existing ministers shall remain as acting, pending appointment by the President of Liberia.

Notwithstanding, with respect to the act that created the merger, he said employees of the two agencies will not be badly affected during the reform process.

He pointed out that a fully professional public sector is the most effective way to deliver quality services to the people and value of that exercise can be seen in increased efficiency, better organizational management and improve services, particularly the fiscal and developmental policy of the country in years to come.

The acting Finance and Development Planning Minister said it was the responsibility of government officials to lay down a solid foundation with respect to the Liberia Revenue Authority (LRA) effectiveness.

He indicated that the managerial team of the Ministry of Finance has been able to meet their target for the second half of the fiscal year in the amount of US$ 518 million.

Following the merger, the Department of Revenue has been transformed to an autonomous agency to be called the "Liberia Revenue Authority" (LRA) with its designated Commissioner General, Elfreda Tamba, pending confirmation by the Liberian Senate.

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