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New finance boss appears before Senate

Finance and Development Planning Minister-designate, Mr. Boima Kamara has appearedbefore the Liberian Senate’s committee on Ways, Means, and Finance and Budget and provided reasons why he should be confirmed.

Mr. Kamara accompanied by friends, employees of the Finance Ministry and family membersTuesday went to the chambers of the Liberian Senate. Giving reasons he should be allowed to serve as minister of finance as requested by President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Kamara said, he will build on the foundation already laid by his predecessors, especially former Minister Amara Konneh, whose launch of the Economic Stabilization and Recovery Plan or ESRP, has been critical to sustaining Liberia in the wake of the Ebola epidemic.

He pointed out that his focus will be on sustaining the momentum generated by the ESRP with an eye to enabling the Agenda for Transformation or AFT meets some of the critical benchmarks before the end of 2017, when the current administration leaves power.

He also reflected on the Mount Coffee Hydro Plant which is expected to be fully rehabilitated by July 2017, with the first turbine coming online in Decembe this year. Mr. Kamara noted that the Heavy Fuel Plants providing a total capacity of 48 megawatts are being phased online, while developments on the West Africa Power Pool front are gaining pace.

“To leverage the benefits of these power sector investments, we have to continue to work in the area of economic diversification with focused attention on key value chains, including rubber, palm oil, cocoa, rice and the rest to build self-sustaining market system and an export-driven industrial policy focused on value addition; and to attract private investments into the tourism industry which has great untapped potential,” he said.

According to him, if confirmed, he will work hard to secure and sustain financing for these critical investments, assuring that public resources are effectively and efficiently expended in the interest of all citizens.

The nominee, who previously worked at the Central Bank of Liberia, said he’s taking the ministry at a challenging time when the global economy appears to be receding after rebounding from the global financial crisis and economic meltdown of 2008. “We are feeling the pinch from this global economic meltdown, especially regarding our two leading export commodities; Iron Ore and rubber. The price per metric ton of Iron Ore has declined by almost 80% its price in 2011, dropping from US$190 per dry metric ton to US$39 per dry metric ton as of my appearance before the senate.”

Commenting on revenue, he promised to work with the Liberia Revenue Authority to improve revenue collection through more effective tax administration by closing loopholes and by minimizing other influences affecting revenue collection.

He emphasized comprehensive taxpayer registration to widen the tax base; more aggressive reforms and enforcement of the tax code to support revenue generations; migration to a modern tax administration system; improving tax payments control and accelerating government efforts in meeting disbursement triggers from the full realization of external budget support.

Following his presentation, senators reverted in committee’s room and to subsequently, report to plenary in due time.

By E. J. Nathaniel Daygbor-Editing by Jonathan Browne

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