Unity Party-led government’s decision to merge the Ministry of Planning and Economic Affairs (MPEA) and the Finance Ministry, as well as having dissolved other key institutions, has not helped the country’s development agenda, says to Presidential aspirant, Benoni Urey of the All Liberia Party (ALP).
Mr. Urey, in an exclusive interview with the Daily Observer on Tuesday, August 30, referred to MPEA as “the intellectual reservoir” that should engage in the effective planning for rebuilding everything that was destroyed in the various civil-wars.
The ALP presidential hopeful, who holds a Master of Arts (MA) degree in Public Finance and Human Resource Development, as well as a Master of Science degree (M.Sc.) in Planning from the University of Southern California, USA, said he was unhappy that the Planning Ministry was reduced to form part of another ministry, which will affect its performance far into the future.
He added that Liberia cannot move forward without proper planning, and therefore needs a ministry dedicated to planning in order to achieve desired progress.
He regretted that the government also dissolved other entities such as the Liberia Produce Marketing Corporation (LPMC), the National Housing & Savings Bank (NH&SB), the Ministry of Rural Development and the Agricultural Cooperative Bank.
With Liberia coming out of decades of civil unrest, Mr. Urey said, those ministries reduced to form part of others and those dissolved, would be reestablished if he is elected president of Liberia.
“Everything we had was destroyed and therefore we can only kick-start the country’s development agenda when those entities reactivated,” he said.
Before leaving office, former Finance & Development Planning Minister, Amara Konneh said the reform exercise was driven by a “thoroughly organized and methodical process pre-dating the UP-led administration.”
Konneh, who served as Liberia’s last Minister of Planning and Economic Affairs, spearheaded the merger of his ministry with the Finance Ministry. He added that the policy behind the merger was to bring synergies to the government through the avoidance of duplications and gaps in the functions of both ministries, thereby resulting in better allocation of human/financial resources and better service delivery.
Upon the merger, the new entity was renamed Ministry of Finance, Development Planning (MFDP).
The two ministries were merged in 2014, signed into law by the Legislature and became effective July 1, 2014.
However, Urey said coming out from 15 years of civil unrest, what is most important for the country, is a planning ministry that could devote time to plan for Liberia.
He said throughout the world, the trend is to make an agency that plans for a country’s future more robust. “After the destruction during the war, we now have to sit and plan for the future,” he stated.
Urey noted that the government has no reason to close down the Ministry of Rural Development since rural communities across the country were greatly affected by the civil war.
“How can we say we are serious about agriculture and the one institution that will help small farmers or big farmers – the Agricultural Bank Cooperative Bank – remains closed?” he said.
Urey also regretted that while the government promises to improve the lives of ordinary Liberians, the National Housing & Savings Bank that financed the construction of about 20 percent of all the decent houses in Liberia in the past, has not been re-opened.
He promised to re-open and make them stand alone ministries and agencies that were put together to make them to perform in accordance to the country’s development agenda, if elected as president in the forthcoming legislative and presidential elections.