Finance and Development Planning Minister Amara Konneh yesterday refused to apologize to the Senate for the contents of a letter written to that body by his Deputy Minister for Fiscal Affairs, Dr. James Kollie.
He said he did not violate any portion of the Constitution when his ministry informed the lawmakers of decisions it needed to take to help the downturn in the economy.
Minister Konneh, who appeared before Plenary of the Senate along with Deputy Kollie, apologized for the wordings in paragraph four of his letter dated January 21, and not the context of the letter.
The paragraph in question reads: “Due to the urgency to complete processing allotments for the quarter, we request a prompt response with information on how the adjustment should be distributed in your budget. Notwithstanding, if you do not respond with regard to said distribution by 4 p.m. Wednesday, January 27th, we will use our discretion to reallocate the amount appropriately and proceed with the processing of allotment the remainder of the 3rd quarter. “
But during the single item hearing yesterday, Minister Konneh remained resolute against offering an apology, saying that except for the portion of the letter he agreed was not appropriate for the lawmakers, everything else mentioned were in line with both the Public Finance Management Law, crafted by the Senate, and the Constitution.
Besides Margibi County Senator Oscar Cooper who went into a lengthy grilling of the Minister, other Senators attempted to steer the Minister to apologize and even quoted some provisions of the Constitution.
Minister Konneh refused to yield and maintained that he did not violate any part of the Constitution. “I cannot apologize for something that I did not do,” he stated.
The Senators’ contention with the letter is that the Minister, who from the onset of the hearing told the Senators that he was taking full responsibility for the letter, thus saving his deputy from the expected wrath of the lawmakers, had indeed violated the Constitution by apportioning to himself the responsibility that is solely theirs – appropriation of the budget.
Minister Konneh, however, argued that such was not the case, and told the Senators that what was contained in the letter was a proposal.
In their unanimous vote on a motion by Senator Nyonblee Lawrence, the Senators, however, agreed that Minister Konneh must appear on Thursday, February 4, along with his lawyer, to face a legislative contempt hearing.