Finance Minister Amara Konneh Thursday, February 6, admitted that he “blundered” while preparing the National Citizens’ Guide that was printed and distributed to lawmakers.
The Citizens’ Guide is a document published by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs from the Ministry of Finance detailing all concession companies, how much financial benefits a particular county has and what projects are to be undertaken in these locations. It is a subset of the approved National Budget.
Appearing before the Plenary of the House of Representatives, Minister Konneh had no other choice but to announce that thousands of dollars of taxpayers’ money used to print “untrue and misguided information” was a serious blunder on the part of him and his co-workers.
“I take responsibility for the errors in the national document. I admit to the errors and apologize for the mistakes. I promise that this will be corrected.
We will give you a draft of the corrected document so that you can make your input before final printing is done,” the Finance boss promised.
Minister Konneh’s appearance came as a result of a communication addressed to the plenary by River Cess County Representative Francis S. Paye, where he (Paye) pointed out several inconsistencies in the published Citizens Guide of Liberia.
Based on said communication last week, the Lower House invited Minister Konneh to give account of the published Citizens Guide.
On the issue of oil block 13, which was alarmed by Rep. Paye to have been shifted from River Cess to Grand Bassa County, Konneh indicated that the committees in both houses and other stakeholders must hold discussions on the way forward in order to bring the misunderstanding to an end.
After the Minister’s brief admittance speech, the Plenary erupted into a commotion with some shouting for Konneh to resign, while others called for a pardon.
Deputy Speaker Hans Barchue later ruled that Minister Konneh be pardoned and released from the witness stand.
Nimba County District #5 Representative Samuel Kogar was quick to express his disappointment in the action of the Deputy Speaker, describing it as “unfortunate.”
He maintained that Konneh’s admittance was a clear indication that the misuse of public funds is commonly practiced by the Finance Minister and endorsed by the Plenary and other officials of government.
“The Plenary should have made Minister Konnneh shoulder the responsibility of printing the corrected document from his own pocket rather than using government resources to correct his errors.
I’m disappointed in the action of plenary and intend to take this further,” said Rep. Kogar.
For his part, Rep. Larry Younquoi was heard saying: “How will lawmakers be proactive when witnesses invited here spend an hour or so in the office of Speaker Alex Tyler holding discussions that could compromise the interest of the Plenary.
“What is going on here is unfair, but when I am ready to speak out, I will hold a big press conference to expose these issues,” he concluded.