Liberia: Fmr. Finance Minister Slams Weah's Govt for Blaming Former Regime for Policy Lapses

Monrovia — Liberia's former Minister of Finance and Development Planning Amara Konneh says the failure of the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) led-government of President George Manneh Weah to adequately implement its Pro-Poor Agenda for Prosperity and Development (PAPD) has compelled its officials to cast a "flawed narrative" on the 12-year tenure of Madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.

Mr. Konneh noted that the consistent shifting of blame on the Unity Party led-government by some officials of the current government is a show of "scapegoating from policy lapses."

He observed that the CDC led-government has failed to acknowledge the progress of the UP regime since it took over in 2018.

He made these assertions when he appeared as guest on the OK Morning Rush on OK FM in Monrovia on Wednesday, October 5.

Mr. Konneh maintained that honest and principled-minded leaders will keep in tight successes of its predecessors and correct mistakes made in the past, instead of consistently criticizing and doing nothing to address these challenges.

"This argument or narrative that has been put out there has been used as a scapegoat for policy lapses by some people that are in the current regime. The narrative is a flawed narrative. If you want to be honest, principled or accountable leader, you will acknowledge the successes of your predecessors. Also, you will balance that with their failures and try to sustain the progress they made and correct the mistakes they made."

"This is where the volatility you see in government is coming from. If you see something that was done correctly, you keep investing in it."

He added that investments or gains made by the past government will be destroyed or eroded if the current administration does not recognize or acknowledge those successes because of what he called "transgression in governance" issues it continues to hold against those who served previously.

Institutions neglected

Mr. Konneh pointed out that many institutions which were established during the administration of Madam Sirleaf have been allegedly neglected by the current regime.

He made specific reference to the General Auditing Commission (GAC) and the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC).

"We don't see the robustness of these institutions that were created for the purposes that they should be serving the Liberian people."

He claimed that Liberia's international partners will continue to be skeptical to put money in the national budget for support to these institutions as a result of the situation.

Mr. Konneh observed that though donor partners' support cannot heavily be relied on for Liberia's development, supports from these partners to the country through the national budget have declined under the current administration.

"I am not saying we should rely on these budget supports for our development. But they are important because, this is how you measure the depth of budget or economic partnerships with these nations."

He emphasized that the neglect of these anti-graft institutions remains the "biggest threat to governance in our country", adding that, "our institutions are getting weaker and the fact that they were created under the previous regime, politically has something to do with that."

He said attention must be paid towards the resuscitation of these institutions.

Disagreeing with Boakai

During the heat of the campaign of the 2017 general and presidential elections, ex-Liberian Vice President Joseph Nyuma Boakai, was quoted by a local daily of admitting that the Unity Party "squandered opportunities" that were in its favor during the 12 year-rule of Madam Sirleaf.

Ambassador Boakai was the Standard Bearer of the UP at the time.

The statement was made at the time he did not receive the full backing of Madam Sirleaf to contest against President Weah. The party accused their former Standard Bearer, Madam Sirleaf of supporting President Weah covertly during the elections.

Ambassador Boakai's assertions did not go down well with vast majority of present and former government officials at the time.

Up to present, some of these former officials, especially allies and loyalists of Madam Sirleaf, still hold malice against Ambassador Boakai as a result of his comments. As evidenced by that, many of them have already defected from the UP and joined either the ruling party or other political parties.

Mr. Konneh differed with Ambassador Brown, but observed that the comments were made based on the need to proffer what was pleasant to the ears of the electorates during the campaign.

"I disagreed with him (Boakai). As a politician, perhaps the audience he was referring to-there was some agitation in them against his campaign and so, he had to say something to appease them. Politicians do that."

"I don't want to go to Uncle Joe Boakai's mind or speculate; but he was running a campaign. He said that and he's the only person who can tell you why he said it. But I don't think that Vice President Boakai believes in his soul that the government that he served 12 years squandered this and that."

He, however, admitted to some mistakes made during the administration of Madam Sirleaf.

Mr. Konneh pointed specifically to the releasing of reports by some institutions that were not available.

"If you want to be fair, honest or a principled leader, you should be able to reflect, after your service, on the good, bad and ugly. This is why in my view former officials are the best consultants, if they are doing it in good fate."

Taking over a peril nation

Mr. Konneh said Liberia was not in a real state following the ascendancy of Madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.

He said no nation was ready or willing to do business with post-conflict Liberia, while the entire infrastructure of the nation was in disarray.

He added that the ability of Liberia to take care of itself at the time was "the worst in the world."

Mr. Konneh disclosed that as part of efforts to return Liberia from its pre-war status, the entire first term of the Unity Party was spent on imploring ways and means towards multiple accomplishments.

He stated that these accomplishments were mostly captured and fulfilled during the second term of the administration, including the reconstruction of the hydro and transmission and distribution of electricity to Monrovia and other parts of the country.

"We were in peril and no nation wanted to deal with us. You can argue that we brought millions and millions of dollars (into the country), but these things are not cheap."

He said government's ability to attract financial resources is based not just on mere "partnership in talking at conferences", but the crafting of policy that will be of greater interests to the other side.

Promoting accountability and transparency

Mr. Konneh stressed that the UP led-administration put in place a policy which keenly focused on good governance, transparency and accountability to attract donor funding.

He recalled that in a bid to ensure the proper execution of the National Budget, the UP administration also established the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) at the National Legislature.

According to him, the committee was clothed with the authority to scrutinize audit reports of the General Auditing Commission (GAC) and advanced recommendations to the executive for possible actions.

"We tried our best to put in place mechanisms-for example the open budget. Everybody knew what was in the budget though there's argument over execution. That's why we went to the Legislature to establish the PAC."

Mr. Konneh observed that the failure of the current administration to appoint competent and qualified individuals to manage frameworks or institutions setup by its predecessor remains a major problem leading to poor performances.

"We created the frameworks and the institutions are there. The question we should be asking is that, are these institutions led by competent and qualified people?"

He observed that the current political landscape of Liberia is in a form where those who served are not accorded their opportunity to share their thoughts or ideas on governance with those in power despite their qualifications and experience.

However, Mr. Konneh maintained that following a democratic transition in Liberia, it remains the prerogative of the CDC led-administration to "keep the country working" for the benefit of the citizenry.

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