The Minister of Finance of Liberia, Amara Konneh, on Tuesday, May 13, 2014, responded to the invitation extended him by the House of Representatives by his appearance to show substantive cause(s) why the nation continues to experience continuous budget deficit since his incumbency. The decision by the Lawmakers to have invited the Finance Minister stemmed from a communication addressed to Speaker Alex Tyler by Representatives Isaac Roland of Maryland and Numene T.H Bartekwa of Grand Kru Counties and read in Plenary recently, complaining that the current budget shortfall was also reported and experienced during the last fiscal year, and was even worsening daily, resulting to delays in implementing other essential programs and projects of Government.
But during his interaction with the House’s Plenary on Tuesday, May 13, 2014, Minister Konneh attributed the unfortunate financial crisis to the inability of some public corporations to remit budgetary contributions, undermining government’s revenue generation. Among the institutions, the Finance Minister named the Liberia Petroleum refining Company or LPRC, National Port Authority or NPA, as well as the Liberia Telecommunications Authority or LTA, among others.
Following his presentation, a motion for a weekly financial report, regarding revenue collection was advanced and adopted by Plenary through votes. In the same motion, the minister was requested to do a written apology for his recent press statement defaming the Lawmakers after his ability to lead the government’s financial machinery was questioned by two of their colleagues, owing to the persistent budget deficit.
As thought it would have been, Tuesday’s interaction between Minister Amara Konneh and the Legislators was not characterized by intellectual hostility and threats from our Lawmakers, even though a few may have wanted the minister to be humiliated- thanks to the true leadership ability exhibited by Speaker Alex Tyler. Why Minister Konneh may have erred in the manner and form he responded to the lawmakers, we think the atmosphere under which Tuesday’s interaction between both parties was conducted worth the necessary commendation. It was a true manifestation of what we anticipated of the people’s representatives during such interaction.
Considering the positive path on which the House of Representatives thrived, regarding the solution to the economic problem, it is incumbent on Finance Minister Amara Konneh to exhibit a true sense of commitment to Tuesday’s resolution by House’s Plenary- by ensuring his weekly report on revenue collection to the august body, as well as the apology demanded, so as to move forward.
In view of the forgoing, we can only hope for better cordiality and respect between the Executive and Legislative Branches of the Government hereafter, with the interest of the nation and its people at the core of such continuous relationship. With the current level of untold hardship among the Liberian population, such understanding between the two could also result to tremendous progress in government revenue generation.
Our only concern in this direction is the payment of taxes at all levels, including the very lawmakers and other senior officials of the government allegedly well noted for evading taxes. Over-coming our national budgetary constraints must require the collective efforts of us all, and not only a certain group of people; our national drive towards economic recovery must be holistic.