Let us first begin with a genuine recognition of Minister Amara Konneh’s achievement as the “African Finance Minister of the Year”. It is no doubt that a wealth of thought went into this decision given the apparent credibility of The Banker Magazine. In addition, we are compelled to agree with a colleague that solely blaming the dismal state of the financial sector and our economy as a whole on the Hon. Minister, (one reason why some people feel he is not deserving of the award) is not only unfair and, frankly, ignorant, but exponentially disingenuous. Clearly, the Minister shares in the blame, but so are the Governor of the Central Bank of Liberia, Dr. Mill Jones, the National Legislature and other government agencies.
Despite our recognition of the Minister, and by extension, Liberia’s achievement, we are concern over responses from some of his ardent supporters, as it relates to critics who feel that among other things, the award is a mockery of the Liberian people. Now, we agree that some of the criticisms have roots in envy, tribalism and pure hate of the man himself (Minister Konneh). However, to dismiss all of the other legitimate criticisms on grounds that they are simply another way of Liberians hating on each other is categorically wrong, unfounded and inconsistent with the very essence of nation building.
People are not questioning the man as a person. Instead, they are doing so within the context of the award and the existing conditions in Liberia. Yes, the Finance Ministry, under Minister Konneh, has made significant strides in streamlining the national budget. However, we still have a budget that is more maintenance than investment driven. We have a budget that allocates fluctuating amounts to education, which is one of, if not, the most critical component of national development while administrative budgetary allocation remains way above education, security and health. You have a Minister who presided/presides over the PRS, yet, poverty is almost as high as it was since the inception of the PRS and unemployment is still high. How can you say people are envious of the Minister when he supported a budget that keeps civil servants pay at the same level while lawmakers enjoy hefty increases? Is it wrong to question the understanding of those who gave this award when the very Finance Ministry is the source of serious allegations of corruption?
We need to stop labeling people for asking legitimate questions. No doubt the award speaks volume as far as the Minister and his team’s tireless efforts are concern. It is a testament to Minister Konneh’s commitment to rescue our nation’s financial sector from the valley of flagrant and irresponsible financial policies to the relatively lofty heights of growth and viability. However, seeing this award as a form of vindication is not only arrogant, but also, gravely insensitive. Vindication should be left to history. The Minister and his team should see this award as a source of motivation; not an ammunition to attack his critics. Doing so only raises question about Minister Konneh’s practical understanding of our people’s economic conditions.
We cannot forge a stronger and perfect nation when all we do is dismiss people simply because their criticisms threaten our “chopping spots.” Ignoring these questions and concerns only highlights the arrogance and callous attitudes of the Minister’s supporters. Yes, some people are simply blowing steam but most of the questions and concerns expressed since the award, are legitimate and should be taken seriously if the Minister wants to continue to make inroads in strengthening the Finance Ministry and positioning himself as a viable, credible, engaging and trustworthy leader.