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Special Feature

Why Finance and Economic Planning, but Not Public Works and Rural Development?

On the 3rd of August 2012, while on my normal routine to acquaint myself with happenings back home by visiting online Liberian Newspapers, I came across a headline in the New Dawn Newspaper entitled, “Amara Konneh Declared Impersonator” which I thought was very interesting to read.

It was all about the roles of Hon. Amara Konneh as Minister of Finance and Economic Planning.  As I continued reading, the story reported that the Liberian Senate argued “that Hon. Konneh’s service in such dual capacity amounts to usurpation of functions not legally ascribed to him as Minister of Finance. “ This indeed, gave me the courage to continue reading as the merger of Planning and Finance is not the only example.

The Senate further argued that the appointment of a Minister of Planning and Economics Affairs was not at the discretion of the President of Liberia, but a statutory responsibility which the president must execute, having taken an oath to defend the laws of Liberia. Well, members of the Liberian Senate must also understand that they too have taken similar oaths to defend the laws of Liberia like the president.

In 2007 during the first term of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the president announced the merger of the Ministry of Rural Development into the Ministry of Public Works due to similarities in functions. From that time up to present, from former Minister Willis Knuckles up to the current Minister of Public Works Hon. Samuel Kofi Woods, all of those who have steered the affairs of the Ministry of Public works have served in dual capacities. There is/are no legislation/s to my knowledge repealing those acts that created the Ministries of Public Works and Rural Development. Technically and legally, if the argument of the Liberian Senate is anything to go by, there should have been separate acts repealing the acts creating both the Ministries of Public Works and Rural Development and a joint act to merge both.

As people who also took similar oaths like the President to uphold, defend and protect the Constitution of the Republic of Liberia, members of the Liberian Senate must also understand that in order for the laws of the land to be enforceable without allegations of biasness, they must applied equally to every person, authority and agency of that land.

The Senate’s argument that the appointment of Minister Konneh two serve dual capacity is a kind of favoritism towards him could also be turned around in two ways: a) that they also favor those who have been serving dual capacities at the Public Works and Rural Development Ministry without proper legislations. B) that their action against Minister Konneh is selective, baseless and out of insincerity because there exists a precedence of such case for about 5 years now.

When one acts with insincerity, God exposes that person with corresponding inconsistencies. Though I am not aware of the specific details in the President’s letter to the Liberian Senate as they relate to the duties and Responsibilities of Minsiter Konneh in his new assignment, I strongly feel that the same rope that tied the monkey in the case of the Public Works-Rural Development merger, must be the same rope to tie the baboon in the Ministry of Finance- Planning merger. These are relatively the same scenarios. Prof. A. V. Dicey strongly argued in his law of the constitution that in order to have an effective implementation of the laws of the land, it must applied equally to everybody and that justice must not only be done but be seen to be done.

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We are not seeing the equal application of any law here and there is no evidence that we are seeing the just applications of the laws in both scenarios. My advice to the members of the Liberian Senate is to focus on important issues and leave the trivial ones to play themselves out. Already, the fiscal year 2012-2013 has begun without the approval of 2012-13 budget thus leaving the government of Liberia to be operating on a supplementary budget. We are aware that the fiscal period of Liberia runs from July 01, of a current year to June 30th of the next year. The senate also has before it the dual citizenship bill and other important bills that it should be spending times on in order to do the works of the Liberian people that its members are being paid for.

Finally, this selective, belated and unjustifiable attack on the personality of Hon. Konneh leaves us with the question, “Why Finance and Economic Planning, but Not Public Works and Rural Development?” What is more disturbing is the allegation that Hon. Konneh is double-paying himself as head of two ministry. It is grossly unfortunate that such an allegation will be coming from members of the Liberian Senate who suppose to  have unhindered access to the truth by citing the Minister or writing the Ministry for clarification before coming out  with a poisonous charge.We are also calling on the public to be very careful during this coming mid-term election by electing people to the Liberian senate who are sincere about doing the jobs of the people and weed out insincere, unqualified and “there goes my brain law makers (law makers who spend their entire tenure in office without debating on a single issue but follow their smart colleagues sitting near them).

Why Hon. Konneh alone?

Manyou MAS Bility,
414 530 1728, Milwaukee, WI

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