Critique of Finance Minister nothing more than a spectacular display of half truths in "Good Bye Konehnomics: Long On Promises But Short on Results" A very close friend of mine over a week ago called my attention to what I came to realize as a rant piece written by a young man called Mr. Maniapkei Dumoe titled "Good Bye Konehnomics: Long On Promises But Short On Delivery". I immediately took a few minutes of my tight daily schedule to read through his lines. After which a few conclusions were reached. 1. That Dumoe lacks a proper understanding of simple macroeconomic issues and there different conundrums, thus making him to throw uninformed thoughts from one side to the other which eventually makes him a victim of impressionism 2. That Dumoe piece on Konneh was a very poor and shabby effort and further affirmed the aphorism that a little learning is a dangerous thing and 3. That Mr. Dumoe lacks fundamental understanding of the barrage of financial panics and economic ills afflicting the world economy today, which forces him to go wrongfully beating on Min. konneh and holding him responsible for exogenous Global market shrinks, fluctuations and uncertainties! Dumoe's Situation therefore can be summarized thus: that the young man is venturing into an arena he knows very little about which therefore leads him to eventually make pretence of Knowledge to use Fahnbulleh's words. For the purpose of public education I have chosen to take a few minutes off to correct his anomalies and further articulate a factual and verifiable state of the Liberian economy today and the back-breaking effort on the part of Min. Konneh to set this country on the lane of economic prosperity, sustained as well as inclusive economic growth. Dumoe flaps with Macro-economic numbers all around the place without knowing the implication and interpretation of those figures. He attempts to slap Min. Konneh with a guilty charge by holding him responsible for shrinking global rubber prices. Listen to Dumoe, he says: "The agriculture sector he(Konneh) promised to leverage is one of the weakest performers today. According to the Central Bank of Liberia (Financial & economic bulletin, Volume 14 No. 2 April-June, 2013) the slow down in the GDP growth according to the CBL is because of drop in the contribution of Rubber and other agriculture produce." What kind of thinking is this? Don't you know the simple fact that the global market economy of which Liberia is only a Marginal participant is the arena that determines export rubber prices based on the demand-supply factor? Haven't you read something in the narratives called the principle of effective market hypothesis, which says that the market when left by itself is capable of solving problems, magically balancing the forces of supply and demand, a rule which generally guides global market conducts? Nobody on this planet knows where Dumoe then comes from with blaming Amara for decline in rubber export! The next thing is, the Liberian rubber sector is currently afflicted with the situation of aging trees which is undercutting the sector productive capacity. Firestone the rubber giant in the economy is currently on a massive replanting spree, with private rubber farmers reinvesting in their farms chopping down worthless trees and planting new once. Secondly, let me state that your attempt to set Ngafuan and Amara on a tragic Collusion course is nothing more than a mischievous exercise intended to gain favour. Your attempt to draw success comparison between Ngafuan and Amara tenure at the head the Liberian Economy, without knowing the profound and dynamic responsibilities of the two individuals says two things; either you know the facts and has chosen to be mischievous or questions need to be asked about the writer's comprehension capabilities. Let state the facts to clear the confusion. After the cessation of gun fires with President Sirleaf coming to power in 2006, the Mandate of Sayeh and later Ngafuan was clear and it was Jump start the Liberian economy and begin efforts to retrieve it from accelerating decline. In simple terms the economy was bleeding to death, a rescue strategy had to be identified. The compelling logic then was for Mr. Ngafuan to focus on reforming the institutional infrastructure of the economy which was in rag as a result of the war. This meant getting the MoF working again, leading reform in our revenue collection capabilities and expanding the national tax net that saw the arrival of BIVAC, ASYCUDA and IFMIS as well as ensuring that public sector spending entities complied with the dictates of the PFM laws and PPCC Act. He opened up the budget formulation mechanism and subjected the National document to public cross examination, scrutiny and debates. Annihilating our unbearable International debt overhang gave us credibility and standing in the international financial market. In short, the traditional transactional mandate of the MoF was restored and the institutional framework of the economy was now on healthy ways. This was the realities of Ngafuan at MoF in a nutshell! In the course of the campaign that led to President Sirleaf re-election in 2011, the Liberian people unanimously spoke in a deafening Chorus that was Jobs! Jobs! Jobs! This meant that the President had to respond. After six years of institutional and legalistic reforms, it was quite clear that the Liberian Economy now needed to change gear. The Country now needed a Finance Minister who leads us to inclusive macro-economic growth and development, not anymore only signing checks and vouchers and sticking to only traditional transactional responsibilities of a treasury house. Min. Konneh therefore had to be the obvious choice with a clear cut and unequivocal mandate from Madame President that was and still is to accentuate the Liberian economy from recovery to prosperity. Be reminded that Amara was no stranger! He had been planning the economy! He rescued the Gov't Economic Planning agency and prevented it from giving out the ghost, resuscitated it and breathed in it a new life of vibrancy. Min. konneh had led different economic growth diagnostic research efforts in an attempt to identify binding constraints on the economy as well as several growth corridor studies working to determine growth prospect concentration and growth drivers. There is no way and I refer you back to the narratives that an economy can leave recovery stages after barely surviving a big bang or free fall without making an audacious macro-economic decision to caustically cut wastage, vexingly obliterate meaningless recurrent expenditure and invest those resources into capitol projects with the greatest potential of economic returns which eventually stimulate the productive sector and create manufacturing. Min. Konneh has been achieving this feat in laboratory fashion. He introduced a new and more dynamic budget planning methodology called an MTEF. He continues to make brave and audacious effort to cut fats and sliced meaningless recurrent expenditures and invest in growth drivers (Electricity, roads, ports, ICT and Youth Empowerment) I will like to bring Mr. Dumoe up to speed on advancement in key priority Investment areas as he is been left behind by the lightening speed of events. Min. Konneh led a fantastic job in securing 64 Million Euro from the EDB as part of our financing arrangement this year to get the Mount Coffee Hydro Project going. Energy Minister Sendolo leading the technical lines has informed us that the facility will be ready by the closing stages of 2015. Once completed, power generation will go beyond pre-war generation capacity that's between 64 to 80KW. This will vehemently sliced the cost of power from 54cents to less than 10cents Kw/hr. This is surely the right way to go as there is no way this economy can hit sustained double digit growth and spin in spectacular fashion the current balance of the Liberian economy without affordable power to stimulate manufacturing where the greatest potential for mass employment lies. The West Africa Power pool Project is also making leaps and bounds. Minster has been able to harness 150Million Dollars in Financing from the World Bank to get the Power transmission and distribution infrastructures up which has now brought power from the South East up to Yekapa, Ganta and many other villages in Nimba County. Up to 30 million Dollars has been secured in credit from the World bank to get the Liberia accelerated electricity Expansion going which leads to construction of Transmission and distribution lines from Monrovia to Kakata a facility which is projected to provide electricity to over 50,0000 Liberians. This Minister has concluded funding arrangement of 64million Dollars with the ADB to initiate the Paving of the first 50Km stretch of road from Harper to Ganta. This project firmly links for the first time in the history of the Country the southern component. This creates a new and prosperous trade route as well as engendering regional commerce with neighboring countries. The Monrovia to Ganta road Project is also making enormous progress which is taking paved road right down the belly of the Country up to the North which makes life easier for local Farmers and increases access to markets. We all know that good road infrastructure is invariably link to Agriculture economic growth. Therefore, Min. Konneh gets it quiet well when he emphasizes the synergy between improve road infrastructure and Agriculture growth and expansion. It is quite evident that Dumoe and the flop forces he represents idea about Economic development is nothing more than that of a petit Fulani Kola trader basically focused on daily marginal profits that keeps him at subsistent levels. Minister Konneh job is way more than that. His role is to make macro-economic decision that ensures prosperity at the commanding height of the economy which then ripples across the plains of the economy creating life for the infant industries and strengthening Small Medium enterprises and trade. So Konneh turns national investment focus to Power. Cheap electricity cuts down cost of doing business as the Liberia Chamber of commerce reported sometime this years that 56% of business revenue in this Country is spent on paying power bills which is strangulating businesses to death. Amara is going to solve this problem once and for all by mobilising financing for the hydro and cutting Power cost dramatically. This provides businesses with an opportunity to invest in their growth and expansion which leads to more jobs for young people and expanded hours in economic activities from 8 to about 12 to 17 hours or more. Lastly, despite Liberia experiencing decline in rubber export due to facts already stated above, the economy still continue to experience growth on other sides like in the area of mining and particularly Iron ore export. The revised 2013 projections show real GDP growth of 8.1 % compared to 7.5% in 2012 (Source State of the Liberian Economy). We may not be there yet but the foundation of this Economy is sound and with patience and peace we are certainly going to arrive at our Middle Income Status goal. Prophets of doom and gloom will be forced to eat their own words. Finally, I believe in my heart of hearts that Min. Konneh is doing a great job and leading this economy into prosperity, he is poised to be the most successful Liberian Finance Minister of the last 20 years!
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