Liberia News: Cat Eating Its Own Baby’

…As Sen. Konneh Questions Govt’s Acquisition of 285 Equipment

Monrovia- Gbarpolu County Senator Amara Konneh, a staunch backer of the current government, has weighed in on increasing public concerns surrounding the government’s acquisition of 285 pieces of earth-moving equipment from China, terming it a good but questionable initiative that deserves clarity as to how the arrangement was derived.

Social media video about the Boakai-led administration’s procurement of various kinds of yellow machines where Ministers of State, State without Portfolio, and Public Works expressed enthusiasm about its potential impact on Liberia’s development has created public anxiety.

Senator Konneh’s expression of concern with the equipment deal is seen by many as ‘cat eating its own baby’ scenario, considering his proximity to the ruling establishment and the fact he is a major brain behind the ascension of the government to power in last year’s Run-off elections.

The former Finance Minister’s concerns also goes beyond the ostensible excitement but the critical questions about the procurement process and its implications for Liberia.

Senator Konneh said is contacting concerned authorities within the Executive Branch, such as the Ministers of State Sylvester M. Grisby, Information Minister Jerolinmek Matthew Piah, and the Minister of Public Works, Roland Giddings to provide detailed clarity on the entire arrangement leading to the acquisition of the equipment.

He said his efforts to get clarity from authorities are only yielded little information, in that only Minister Giddings asked him to contact Minister of State Grisby, whom he claimed did not respond.

The Senator is primarily concerned about the cost of this procurement, estimating that each unit’s minimum price is about US$100,000, totaling over US$30 million.

He also questioned how President Boakai and his administration raised such a substantial amount and demands transparency regarding the source of the capital.

According to other media outlets, Senator Konneh recalled the controversial justification by President George Weah’s officials for loans from dubious sources, stressing the need for adherence to international Anti-Money Laundering/Countering the Financing of Terrorism frameworks, which bind Liberia.

Assuming the legitimacy of the partners involved in this deal, Senator Konneh seeks clarity on their nature. He asks whether these partners are private, state-owned, or if the resources provided were bilateral or multilateral. Even if the funds were a grant, Konneh stressed that understanding the grantor’s nature is crucial to discerning the economic and political conditions attached to the deal.

Senator Konneh’s financial scrutiny extends to the terms of the financing agreement. He questions whether the procurement was a loan, and if so, whether it was concessional or non-concessional. He’s seeking details on the repayment terms, including the duration and interest rate, and highlights the importance of considering exchange rate risks alongside interest rates.

Konneh is particularly concerned about the impact of a fluctuating exchange rate on debt servicing costs, urging the Government of Liberia (GOL) and the Central Bank of Liberia (CBL) to have plans to manage these risks.

Another critical aspect Senator Konneh addresses is Liberia’s absorptive capacity for the influx of equipment. He recalls his experience with budgeting for the Road Fund, noting that the allocated amount was far less than the value of the newly procured units.

Sen. Konneh questions the assessment justifying the deployment of such a massive fleet and the assignment of 19 units to each county. He draws parallels to past efforts, such as the Jackson F. Doe Medical Center, which faced operational challenges due to insufficient trained staff despite having advanced equipment.

Sen. Konneh warned that without adequate planning, Liberia might face similar issues in road development. He questionedwhether the GOL’s road development strategy includes plans for maintaining and repairing these assets, and whether there are sufficient qualified staff across counties to handle these tasks. He underscored the need for a standardized governance structure for road works and asset management to ensure consistent reporting and effective decentralization.

The Senator also called for transparency in the procurement process. He emphasized that procurement is often linked to corruption, citing his own efforts as Finance Minister to involve Justice Ministers Christiana Tah and Benedict Sannoh in scrutinizing procurement deals. Konneh demands that the current acquisition meet the provisions of Liberia’s Public Procurement and Concession Act and promises to closely inspect the government’s response against legal standards.

While Senator Konneh appreciates the Boakai Administration’s bold move towards road construction and rural development, he stressed the importance of adhering to laws, standards, and procedures. He believes that proper adherence will prevent the wastage of Liberia’s limited resources and ensure that development initiatives are effective and sustainable.

Senator Konneh concludes by emphasizing the need for transparency in a country governed by the people. He assertedthat it is not enough for the government to do the right thing; the people must be informed about their President and public servants’ actions. As a Senate representative, Konneh looks forward to receiving answers to his questions and hopes that the responses will reflect the high competence he believes exists within the Liberian bureaucracy.

In urging the Boakai Administration to uphold these standards, Senator Konneh reflects on the Unity Party’s past successes in development planning. He expressed hope that the administration will demonstrate its continued capability to plan and execute development projects effectively, thereby restoring public confidence in their governance.

  1. Cllr. Frederick A.B. Jayweh says

    Let Amara Mohammed Konneh control himself and leave the struggling, poor and suffering people of Liberia alone. Where was Amara Konneh when the people of Liberia and Liberia needed him the most as Liberia’s Minister of Finance and Development? Where was Amara Konneh when Mrs. Johnson Sirleaf and the Sirleafs fearlessly took liberty of and ceaselessly abused the people of Liberia and Liberia with impunity?

    Amara Konneh was Liberia’s Minister of Finance and Development when money donated to Liberia to support and sustain Liberia’s medical and healthcare system disappeared, and when Robert A. Sirleaf worked with Mrs. Johnson Sirleaf to allegedly STEAL away more than US$10M from Liberia. When did Amara Konneh become an advocate for good governance and transparency in Liberia and for Liberia?

    IF Liberia WAS LEFT lone with Amara Konneh and Mrs. Johnson Sirleaf, Mr. Joseph Nyuma Boakai would not have been elected the President of Liberia. Just take and read through Amara Konneh’s writings prior to November 20, 2023, and you will find that Amara Konneh has no moral and he is not a good partner and he cannot be trusted with Liberia.

    The Legislative, Executive, and Judicial are co-equal and coordinated branches of the Government of Liberia. The Legislature, the House and Senate are responsible to make the law. The Judiciary is and must say what the law is, and the Executive is legally responsible to enforce the laws of Liberia. The President of Liberia being the Commander-in-Chief, Head of Government, and the Head of the Armed Forces of Liberia, by law, runs the Government of Liberia and the affairs of Liberia.

    This duty and responsibility includes soliciting, negotiating and concluding contacts in the name of Liberia and for Liberia. The President and his officials operating the Executive Branch of the Government of Liberia are not obligated to solicit and obtain the approval from the Legislative, and/or the Judicial Branch of the Government of Liberia to conduct the affairs of Liberia and policy change that impacts the quality of life of the people of Liberia.

    To bring in 285 Earth-moving Yellow Machines to develop Liberia, to help build Liberia’s farm-to-market roads, and support Liberia’s food production, sounds good for Liberia. So Spoon Talk, Amara Konneh and other pre-matured and engaged advocates for so-called good governance and transparency, must wait and give the GoL the chance and space to effectively play its statutory and constitutional role to better the lives of Liberians.

    Liberians, strongly hope and can’t wait to see the Ministry of Finance and other agencies of the Government under Mrs. Johnson Sirleaf and Mr. Weah audited. Soon and very soon, the GoL must commission an audit!

    Cllr. Frederick A.B. Jayweh, Esq.
    Mobile: 720-731-7994

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