Finance and Development Planning Minister, Boima S. Kamara, has stressed the need for a more practical approach in diversifying the Liberian economy, which has experienced both internal and external shocks resulting from the deadly Ebola virus and global meltdown.
Taking over the Ministry recently, the MFDP Minister suggested that the country needed to take advantage of opportunities in agriculture, agro-processing and light manufacturing, given the level of investments so far in infrastructure projects.
He said this has resulted in more than 700 kilometers of paved roads and more than 136 megawatts of electricity.
“We are taking over at a time when the economy is experiencing slower economic growth mainly on account of various shocks, including the Ebola virus disease,” Minster Kamara said.
He emphasized that “we are coming in at a time that UNMIL is also carrying out its drawdown coupled with the fall in the global commodity prices, especially iron ore and rubber – the nation’s major primary commodity exports.”
The new MFDP Minister said that the Ebola outbreak also weakened activities in the economy resulting to fall in real Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth from 8.5 percent in 2013 to zero percent in 2015.
This development, he said, resulted to serious loss of household incomes, revenue for the government and concession agreements in the iron ore and rubber sectors.
He believes this enhances a strong support for the domestic private sector key to ensuring sustainable economic growth and job creation, while at the same time creating an investor friendly environment.
He then challenged staff of the ministry saying, “we are expected to perform functions critical to our nation’s survival. Therefore, I have come here to continue to build on the foundation left behind – this is exactly the point I made during my confirmation hearing.
“In the next 17 months, we will be running the final lap in the marathon we all started together more than 10 years ago. Finishing strong in this marathon entails sticking to the strategy, which some of us helped to put together. I am a new member on this team brought in to make sure that we finish strong,” he told MFDP staff.
He called for a positive attitude noting that a strong will to succeed and perseverance to getting the job done will be required of every staff member in order “to get us to finish strong,” he emphasized.
The youthful and energetic new MFDP boss was quick to dispel the notion that his taking over of the ministry will result in the replacement of some of the ministry’s workforce.
Commenting on job security, the new fiscal manager of the government said “Firstly, while not ruling out 100% the possibility of bringing other competent Liberians on board this team, I will lean more to the concept of internal promotion in this ministry, one strictly derived from integrity, hard work and dedication to duty.
“Maintaining your job or losing your job will depend primarily on what you do or fail to do. If you perform your job with integrity and dedication and within agreed timelines, you need not worry about anything,” he told the staff.”
He, however, warned that “if you choose to take the opposite path, you need not be too comfortable.”
On the second principle, he stressed transparency, which determines “how we are going to manage the building of human resource capacity.”
The new minister is a strong believer in merit-based motivation by giving people the right tools to improve productivity, which allows supervisors to conduct evaluation and make appropriate recommendations.
He also intimated about his third guiding principle, which he emphasized was of critical importance in communication and feedback. “I will need to hear from you and benefit from your expert knowledge and deep institutional memory to improve the system as you need to hear from me as well,” he told his staff.
He stressed the importance of collaboration to forge ahead in delivering on the promises of key infrastructure projects, mainly roads and energy; health and education; security in view of UNMIL’s drawdown; and the pending 2017 presidential and general elections.
Minister Kamara also used the platform to recognize the role of all of Liberia’s bilateral and international partners in helping it achieve these objectives, recognizing that strong donor coordination and support will play a key role.
He called on the MFDP family to join him as he begins a noble journey without compromising hard work, unshakable dedication and honesty in managing the nation’s economy.
This, he said, will “bring smiles on the faces of the more than 4 million persons who call themselves Liberians.”