Despite his previous argument that he has violated no portion of the Constitution of Liberia after his deputy Dr. James Kollie, wrote the Liberian Senate with an ultimatum, Finance Minister Amara Konneh has finally succumbed to the Senators and issued a formal apology to that august body.
Minister Konneh in a two-page communication dated February 3, 2016, expressed his deepest apology and at the same time begged members of the senate to drop the contempt charges brought against him.
“I Therefore, kindly request that you accept my sincere apology, and drop contempt charges, in the interest of advancing our nation’s development agenda. Please accept as always, the assurances of my highest esteem,” reads Konneh’s letter of apology.
Things took a different trend on Tuesday, February 2, 2016 in the chambers of the Senate at the Capitol after Minister Konneh and his deputy minister Dr. Kollie apologized for aspect of their earlier letter directly relating to the ultimatum, but not the aspect dealing with the reduction of the budgetary allotment to the senate.
The chambers of the Liberian Senate came under serious tension when Finance and Development Planning Minister Amara Konneh and his Deputy Dr. James Kollie appeared before that august body to give reason why they should not be held in contempt for a proposed budgetary cut in the fiscal year allocation of the Senate.
Bad blood had earlier developed between the ministry and the Senate over a letter by Deputy Minister Kollie to members of the august body informing them of the budgetary constraints which would see their (Senators’) overall allotment slash by US$1 million.
Minister Konneh assured the senate of his utmost respect and informed them that he has absolutely no motive, reason or incentive to disrespect or usurp the senate’s functions. “I have over the years, demonstrated deference to the senate and have enjoyed an excellent working relationship with its members. I do not intent to change that, neither at this point in time, nor do I ever especially when the country is in need of improved coordination among its leaders to keep the development agenda on course and surmount the economic challenges we are currently facing.”
According to the Minister, he had authorized Dr. Kollie, the Deputy Minister for Fiscal Affairs to write a letter to the senate. “I relied on section 6(4) of the Public Financial management Act of 2009, which give him the flexibility to have done so, but I concede that I could have exercised that flexibility differently. I therefore, acknowledge that a more deferential letter should have be written that more clearly acknowledge the power of appropriations vested in the legislature, and as in budget preparation protocol, requested relevant information from the spending entities including the projections for budget formulation purposes,” he noted.
“Under these circumstances, including the pressure for time to complete the task at hand; the Finance and Development Planning’s letter appeared to have given ultimatum to the Liberian Senate, which was certainly unintended. I regret the tone of the letter, which requested the senate to provide said information within a specified timeframe,” the Finance boss conceded in his apology.
By E. J. Nathaniel Daygbor-Edited by Jonathan Browne