Claims and counter claims between Finance Minister Amara Konneh and the Governor of the Central Bank of Liberia (CBL) Dr. J. Mill Jones over the state of the Liberian economy, particularly the fall of the Liberian dollar against the United States Dollars attracted the attention of most Liberians. This issue has been slogging for some time and it seems the Central Bank and the Finance Ministry are shifting blame rather than fixing the problem.
The CBL and the Finance Ministry Finance are the financial managers of the Liberian economy, but each has specific responsibility already they have collaborated and coordinated on a number of issues before. Interestingly, it seems the CBL and the Finance Ministry are being more political than instituting radical chances to rescue a situation that is in tatters.
The Finance Ministry and CBL have denied media reports that Minister Konneh and Governor Jones are in confusion over the fall of the dollar. Despite this denial, there's no assurance that the Liberian dollar would gain rise against the US dollar, although artificial fall announce could shrink anytime soon].
Minister Konneh and Dr. Jones MUST CFOLLABORATE JOINTLY to take the necessary fiscal or economic measures that would save the dollar from further collapse. However, the two officials seem misplaced and appear to lack the sagacity to implement the kind of reform ortake radical decision that Ben Bernankee, U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman would do to help salvage situation of such nature.
The beef between the two financial experts is not only about their inability to fix the economy, but that both have political ambition for 2017. The Liberian economy is basically import driven since the country does not export important commodities to strengthen the economy. Liberia imports nearly every basic commodity that consumes, including its staple food rice. More than US$200 million is spent the importation of rice and an additional US$400 million on the importation of fuel oil. This problem is being compounded by the decline of Liberian dollar which currently stands at L$1.0 to 80 U.S. dollar
According to Africa's Economic Outlook, Liberia's post-war economic growth was sustained in 2012, led by the first full year of iron ore exports, construction, and strong performance in the service sector, but these positive trends are subject to fluctuations in commodity prices, FDI, and overseas development assistance.
President Sirleaf's government passed its FY 2012/13 budget as part of an Open Budget Initiative, but it faces mounting pressure to increase employment, improve services, tackle corruption and address governance issues in the forestry, palm oil, and oil sectors.
The poverty rate has decreased from 64% to 56% between 2007 and 2010, but some 78% of the population remains engaged in vulnerable employment, and Liberia ranks close to the bottom of countries in the Human Development Index (174th out of 187).
Truthfully speaking, Mill Jones needs to clasp up and institute the appropriate measures to rescue the Liberian dollar. But he's not doing that instead, he's more or less concern about his political ambition. On Thursday, a local group accused the Central Bank of Liberia (CBL) of infusing more Liberian dollar on the market for political reason.
The Center for Economic Justice claimed that CBL Governor, Dr. J. Mills Jones intends to contest the 2017 Presidency and has decided to use the Liberian people money to buy loyalty and votes ahead of the elections. The group also criticized the Governor's por economic policy and urged him to reverse the current trend.
The group's claim is genuine and every Liberian knows that Mills Jones has become more of a politician than a banker these days. Since 2012 to present, Dr. Jones has been the leading speaker in town. He has been invited to women groups, social club and even if Car washer invites the Governor he's ready to go and dish out cash. The money Dr. Jones is dishing out is not his personal money. He's using state resources to buy votes and loyalty ahead of 2017 which is wrong. If Dr. Jones wants to be a candidate in 2017, he must do the honorable thing: resign and announce his intention for the presidency.
Governor Jones argues that the money he has given out [or is still giving out] is intended to fight poverty and empower small Liberian own businesses. According to a CBL report, a total of 93 businesses benefited, 31 of which are owned by women; 10 sectors were covered, including fisheries, transportation, woodwork, agriculture, hospitality and manufacturing. The bank stated that these businesses are employing about 3,000 individuals. The increasing success of the financial inclusion strategy is also evident in the growth of credit unions which until a few years ago were virtually stagnant in the country.
Politically, these lyrics are not acceptable because the only time the Governor sees to support Liberian own businesses when 2017 presidential election is nearing. More than that, he's under obligation to solve the currency mess and refrain from politics.
The true political motive of Minister Konneh is not known, but family sources close to the young Finance Minister have confided in some fraternity members that the Minister has a clear political agenda. Konneh is not likely to go on the ticket of the crumbling ruling Unity Party but could be an independent candidate or forge a coalition with a juggernaut political institution.
Whatever his political game plan is, Konneh has a bright future ahead of him.