— Says former Finance Minister Amara Konneh
Former Finance and Development Planning Minister (MFDP), Amara M. Konneh has branded his successor, Mr. Samuel D. Tweah, Jr., as a liar for claiming that the Weah-led government has raised more domestic revenues and put in place the strongest fiscal tightening (savings) in the history of the nation.
“Lies and deceptions lead the people to a rathole. People are generally forgiving when you’re honest with them. Democracy isn’t just about elections,” he said.
The former finance minister further said that the MFDP under Mr. Tweah has borrowed about US$8.3 Million from the CBL since 2018.
Konneh, who is the Manager of the World Bank Group’s Global Fragility, Conflict and Violence (FCV) Hub in Nairobi, Kenya, further said that Mr. Tweah claims that he was unable to pay salaries, despite “record-setting revenue generation,” which he said is contradictory and shows his lack of respect for civil servants and the Liberian people’s intelligence.
Konneh on his social media post said strong economic performance drives revenue growth, noting that the Sirleaf administration delivered both consistently, even under fiscal constraints for Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) debt relief process.
He said over the 15 budget cycles from 2006 to 2020, “FY12/13 was our peak period for domestic intake. We raised US$509.0 million, with a GDP growth rate of about 8 per cent.”
Konneh said as a result of revenue growth and sound fiscal management, despite all constraints, they were able to increase and pay salaries on time, every time, and early for holidays.
Speaking on public debt, the former Finance Minister said government borrowing from external partners and local financial institutions is a blatant lie, which Mr. Tweah claims the Weah-led GOL has never borrowed from the Central Bank of Liberia (CBL).
Contrary to Mr. Tweah’s and his followers’ persistent claims, “the data we’ve shared with you shows that the Weah administration inherited a relatively stable macroeconomic environment and a tight monetary policy stance.”
According to him, it is the ill-advised decisions, actions and inactions during the first year of the regime that erased all of the gains as highlighted in one of the objectives of the Government’s new IMF program, “… to restore macroeconomic stability”. You cannot restore what did not exist before. We are all glad now to see that they’re attempting to focus now more on work than politics.”
“I know some will ask, “But where did all the money you raised go? How did it benefit the Liberian people?” We will answer that question this weekend: generated between 2012 and 2015 when I was minister of finance went. Finally, my decision to use my holiday break and night hours to present facts to Liberians about the governance of their country isn’t about arrogance or to show off what we know. Neither is it about beef with our Minister of Finance. It is about truth-telling and transparency which are bedrocks of democracy and governance,” he said.
However, Minister Tweah, who appeared on the 50-50 talk show on Sky FM on Wednesday, January 6, 2021, told Liberians that the economy is rebounding, which most critics do not want to hear.
“The hope is that the economy is rebounding after some very difficult period.
“It is good for the Liberian people to know where their country is going and it is their right to complain when things are tough, prices are high, when they go to the bank they don’t get money.”
Providing basic economic facts on yesterday, Minister Tweah said doing 2014 to 2018, net revenue grew by -0.65%; 2018 to 2020, net revenue grew by 2.74%.
He said, “So from 2014 to 2020 net Revenue grew by 2.15 per cent. Of the total net revenue for the last six years, the past regime contributed 0.65% while this regime has contributed 2.09%. Meaning this regime performed better in domestic revenue mobilization in the last two years than the past regime in four years! Imagine even in the heat of COVID, this government raised over 470m domestically- the highest net revenue in the last 6years.”
He said pessimists have programmed themselves to only accept the negatives about President Weah led government and Liberia at large.
Minister Tweh said during the outbreak of the Ebola virus in 2014 which left the country’s economy shattered, the global Covid-19 pandemic has also created serious economic problems for Liberia.
He said despite such challenge, the country is again on the path of recovery; evident of the latest International Monetary Fund growth projection report on Liberia.
The Country’s fiscal manager calls on Liberians to exercise maximum restrains as efforts are being made to resuscitate the country’s economy.
Minister Tweah also told Liberians that government will endeavour to restore trust and confidence in the Banking sector as well as under obligation to improve the living conditions of the Liberian people by addressing challenges undermining their progress.
He made specific reference to the current shortage of Liberian dollars at the various commercial Banks across the Country.
Minister Tweah attributed the shortage of Liberian dollars at the various commercial Banks to lack of trust in the banking sector.
The Finance Minister noted that 80 per cent of Liberian Dollars is outside of the banking sector, thereby undermining the capacity of commercial banks to meet the growing demands of the public.