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I’m ‘Novice’ to Foreign Service

Liberia’s Minister for Foreign Affairs-designate concedes before the Senate’s Statutory Committee on Foreign Relations during hearing that the foreign sector is a strange terrain for him, but promises to adapt to the system in the soonest possible time.

Mr. Gbenzohngar Milton Findley, a former Pro-Tempore of the Liberian Senate, who crossed over from ex-President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s Unity Party to George Weah’s Coalition for Democratic Change prior to the first round of the 2017 Presidential and Representative Elections, was nominated by President Weah on Tuesday, a day following his inauguration.

Appearing before the Senate Committee headed by Maryland County Senator, Ambassador H. Dan Morais, Gbenzohngar openly explains that his appointment by President George Manneh Weah comes with challenges, which include his limitation in the field of diplomacy.

But he assures senators that government functions are teamwork and he’s willing to work with every sector that falls within his scope of operations.
He notes that Liberia largely depends on foreign aids in order to keep government alive and working, meaning he has to work overly in ensuring that funding from friendly nations and multi international groupings are captured by his team and reflected in the national budget for the benefit of all Liberians.

He says Liberia is experiencing some serious economic challenges which need international assistance to repair such stalemate, and it depends on the President, who is the chief planner of foreign policy and the foreign minister as implementer, to achieve such goal.

Mr. Findley promises to reduce the price for Liberian Passports, stressing that the current fees for obtaining a Liberian Passport, US$50 is high and it is denying many Liberians the opportunity to become holder of a book.

According to him, with the reduction in price, it will contribute to President Weah’s pro-poor program. He also vows to, if confirmed by the senate, improve salaries and allowances for staffers of the nation’s foreign missions globally so that compensation will march today’s realities and be acceptable in the country of operation for every mission.

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During the hearing, Mr. Findley in a very confirmed tune, alleges that members of the protocol department of the Foreign Ministry are disrespectful to members of the Liberian Legislature, adding that during major events, protocol officers do not accord courtesy to senior government officials and foreign partners, something he said, has caused the country a national embarrassment.

He promises to provide training for all protocol officers, including the chief of protocol of the country.Meanwhile, the committee is expected to brief full plenary of the Liberian Senate on its findings about the confirmation and thereafter, duly inform the public about the outcome.
However, the Ministers-designate of State for Presidential Affairs, Mr. Nathaniel Fallo McGill, Finance and Development Planning, Samuel Tweah have also appeared before the senate respectively for confirmation hearings.

The three nominees are among the first five cabinet appointments made by President George Weah, including Justice Minister-designate, Cllr. Charles H. Gibson whose nomination has been greeted here with controversy.

-Editing by Jonathan Browne

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