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Lawmakers vs. Konneh: Only a holistic approach

It may all be set for the appearance of the Minister of Finance of Liberia before members of the House of Representatives on Tuesday, May 13, 2014. Minister Amara Konneh will be facing the Representatives to show substantive cause(s) why the nation continues to experience continuous budget shortfall. The decision by the Lawmakers to invite the Finance Minister stems from a communication addressed to Speaker Alex Tyler and read in Plenary recently, complaining that the current budget shortfall was also reported and experienced during the last fiscal year.

The communication, jointly signed by Representatives Numene T.H Bartekwa of Grand Kru County and Isaac B. Roland of Maryland County respectively,  further noted that the situation was even worsening daily, resulting to delays in implementing other essential programs and projects of Government. The communication from the two Representatives also emphasized the need for the august body to act without further delays.

During his appearance on Tuesday, the Finance Minister is expected to present the outcome of the special revenue collection taskforce he constituted and personally supervised in February of this year, as well as inform members of the House of Representatives which sector of the economy was not responding to Government budgetary revenue for the required necessary action by the House. Minister Amara Konneh, in February of this year, attributed the current budget deficit to his ministry’s inability to maximize government’s revenue collection, assuring the Lawmakers that he would personally ensure, at the time, the correction of the situation.

In addition to the foregoing, Minister Konneh may also be faced with the demand for his resignation as advanced by Maryland County Representative Isaac Roland if the Minister cannot provide technical supervision in preparing and executing the budget.

Representative Roland had indicated that Konneh, who should be the proponent of the budget, had gone contrary to his function, leading to what he referred to as a budgetary embarrassment to the country, with a reduction in the budget of the University of Liberia from US$11 million to US$9 million. Roland also attributed the current embarrassment being faced by the Judiciary to Konneh’s “budget shortfall”.

While the Minister of Finance may be propelling the country’s financial machinery and must be held accountable for any ‘break-down’, our overly powerful Lawmakers must equally share the blame. Without any surety of generating the additional US$30m identified, they expected the Ministry of Finance to do the magic- something not really the reality.

As a way of reaching a common ground in the interest of the nation, Tuesday’s interaction between the Legislature and Minister of Finance must not be characterized by intellectual hostility and threats from our Lawmakers. Why the Lawmakers may be annoyed by the situation et al, a true manifestation of the people’s representation and national leadership will be determined by the way the approach/engage the Finance Minister.

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We only appeal to them to patiently listen to Amara Konneh as he ‘truthfully’ explain the real problem(s) relating to the continuous deficit experienced by the government for a holistic approach to a solution-that’s our appeal.

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