Liberians Are Without Jobs Because of Konneh & Jones Rivalry

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In the face of a tight and unbearable economic situation, Liberian workers are suffering to get jobs simply due to two public officials whose unnecessary rivalry continues to hurt our nation: Central Bank Governor Mills Jones and Finance Minister Amara Konneh’s continuous misunderstanding is more than worrisome and could not be ignored by the President in her State of the Nation’s Economy Address recently.

“……. in the absence of full cooperation between the Ministry of Finance and the Central Bank of Liberia, have created stress in the banking system and the depreciation in the exchange rate”, the President noted in laying out some of the main reasons for the country’s current poor economic situation.

For the past five to six months now, the Liberian Government lacks funding to honor its obligations to contractors, of course with emphasis on those who are responsible to fix or repair our roads. This makes one to wonder about the survival of these Liberian workers just as the rainy season gets into full gear.

When the Public Works Minister Antoinette Weeks during her recent appearance on Capitol Hill told the Liberian Senate about the indebtedness of the Liberian Government to contractors in the tone of over US$84 million, it makes one to project the kind of hardship Liberian workers who find themselves in this sector will continue to endure based on Governor Jones and Minister Konneh’s hardened rivalry.

But just a minute: where are all the taxes or revenues generated by the Finance Ministry with no return to benefit Liberian contractors?

But you may also wonder where is Governor Jones’ professed nationalism (of dashing out unregulated loans) when he is refusing to prioritize the interests of those who are just merely surviving to get their wages through these companies that are either already shutting down or have ceased to operate due to the lack of funds to pay workers and vendors?

For Minister Konneh who always preaches ‘austerity’ but practices waste and abuse, he must know that he needs to cut-off such non-compliance posture with the Bank Governor so payments can be made to those companies for his compatriots to get some money in their pockets.

Just so you know, 90% of these companies have already closed down or ceased operations because they are being owed too long and Liberians earning their living through these companies are the only victims.

If the primary reason for non-payment to contractors is the song ‘Lack of Funds In The Budget’, then why can’t a reported US$10,000 monthly allowance to the Finance Minister be curbed considerably to help address these issues? As a matter of fact, how is he justifying that amount in the first place? How possible in that when Governor Jones continues to parade Monrovia and the entire country in his very expensive and luxurious bullet-proof jeep? 

Just for the record, when former Minister Augustine K. Ngafuan (now Foreign Minister) was at Finance, it is a known secret that there were fewer taxpayers and businesses and every contractor and vendor were getting paid at least three times in a single Fiscal Year. Unlike now, where taxpayers and businesses have increased, the (opposite?) is just the ironical reality. What sense does that make?

Where are the reserves at the CBL? Ain’t they supposed to be used to intervene in such an economical time as this? (Or is the focus only on the civil servants’ salaries and allowances, some with very fabulous ones eventhough these Liberians in the contractual sector who depend only on their respective monthly payments are also Liberians and deserve same treatment under the law?)

Where are accrued funds or revenues from the Foreign Direct Investments that yielded over US$16 billion? Yes, we know that some of these investments have been spread over time (some up to 25 years) but they and most of the others are all spread over phases which means phase-payments for the past almost nine years.

Which is more important: getting the hydro up in order to have sufficient power supply for our citizens who, however, won’t afford to buy a single cup of rice, least to mention access to adequate medical services due to the prevailing situations of Liberians being cut off from jobs?

Which is more important: giving out ‘political loans’ at the expense of the Liberians’ state resources for the Governor’s political motives or ordinary Liberians’ empowerment to keep food on their families’ tables by paying contractors through which they too will get paid? Which is better: the Finance Minister’s ‘lobbied’ Finance Minister of The Year Award or lifting Liberians out of poverty by making sure the companies through which they earn their daily bread remain functional? 

Which is more important: satisfying the individual political motives of these politics-drunk public officials or preventing rural (and urban) Liberians from potential disasters of terrible roads in the midst of heavy rains that would leave some homeless?

What about the CBL’s responsibility to regularize institutional failures in order to make corrective measures like contacting the World Bank (and probably other donors) to lend Liberia some funds to meet its budgetary obligations?

As we speak, Public Works workers and contractors are striking not because there is no electricity, but not a single pot-hole in Monrovia has been repaired since over six months now. So, that foreshadows the story of rural dwellers who expect to get basic social services including medical supplies and others. They too are Liberians who will be expecting to transport supplies and also food to and fro; but how possible in the absence of maintained and repaired roads now that the rains have begun?

Those Liberians in rural parts are threatened with hunger and serious medical situations if Governor Jones and Minister Konneh cannot afford to collaborate in the interest of the country. In fact, it would be best for the President to request their respective resignations, if you ask me for the best solution. These two men are holding an entire nation hostage and Liberia, in its current recovery drive can’t afford to be held hostage by its two greedy and selfish fiscal and monetary bosses. Please for once, Madam President, take action and take it now!

Where are we heading, I wonder? So when will the President take action against these two fiscal and monetary officials whose behaviors continue to undermine her Government? When she hinted in her recent address that she will make sure of her direct leadership in effective changes and prosecuting offenders, I think that time is now, when she would put the right people at the right places at such a time in the history of our country’s economy.

If both men truly love their country, this is the time to show it. Politics aside, they will truly be hailed in return.

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