Outgoing Finance and Development Planning Minister, Amara Konneh has denied accepting his position in government with the intent of taking things away from Liberia to benefit another country.
Speaking on a local radio on Monday, March 28, Minister Konneh, who will take a new position at the World Bank in June, emphasized that his intent is to help build Liberia using his expertise.
Although he did not accuse anyone of implicating him in corruption or any form of impropriety, Minister Konneh’s comments suggested that there are those who believe that he has accumulated enough wealth and is about to take another lucrative position at the World Bank.
Konneh contends that he wants to see policies and development projects that everyone has agreed on, implemented.
“I am an ambitious person who likes to see policies and development projects implemented. I did not come to work in government to take away from the country, but to see that development the country needs is carried out,” he said.
He said friends and other Liberians from different parts of the country can attest to what he has done in some counties revealing his desire to see the country grow.
He added that he has refused to be honored by any group, “because I don’t want to appear flamboyant in the eyes of Liberians,” but rather to make an impact on the country in a simple way.
He recounted that he lived in Guinea and the United States during the war, and suffered to excel with the belief that he could positively impact his country one day. He therefore could not be the one to extort money from his country to build another country, said Konneh.
He attributed his success in getting an international job to President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, who encouraged him and other compatriots to serve their country, which according to him, is the basis upon which the World Bank hired him to serve fragile and conflict prone countries.
Underscoring some challenges facing the government, Minister Konneh indicated that investments pronounced to the Liberian people are not fully felt because investors do not have a foundation to start on.
Explaining further, he said Liberian fighters during the war damaged the infrastructures and looted other things they could take with them.
“The railroad from Nimba to Buchanan was destroyed, the hydro dam in Mount Coffee was damaged and looted along with the rest of the electrical system and many other things in this country as you may know. What is the foundation on which the investors will start? They have to start all over from square one, and this is why you see that the US$2 billion investment government talked about is not making much impact on the economy,” he noted.
He said Liberia’s economy has been dependent on iron ore and rubber, hit by dwindling prices on world markets, with agriculture given low attention.
In order to expand the economic income for the country, he said there is a need to give attention to coffee, once exported from the country.
He also pointed out that the absence of cheap electricity in the country hinders manufacturing and industrial activities thereby discouraging the promotion of business.
Minister Konneh said it is therefore noteworthy to consider electricity as a major factor in the development and growth of the country.
In defense of the Ellen Johnson Sirleaf Administration, he said “Although it is not all well in the country, we can say today that much has been done considering where we were yesterday, and more still needs to be done.”
“As I take my new position, it is my hope to raise the image of Liberia since I will work with countries among which Liberia is included,” Mr. Konneh said.