Minister Konneh spoke over the weekend at MFDP employees’ award ceremony held in his honor at the Executive Pavilion in Monrovia.
He said all of the successes attained during his tenure at the ministry took place due to the cooperation received from every employee including his principal deputies.
Minister Konneh was full of praise for Deputy Minister for Fiscal Affairs, Dr. James F. Kollie, for the support he rendered during his administration at the ministry. He said Dr. Kollie has been very helpful both personally and professionally. “You are a patriot in the true meaning of the word,” he said of Deputy Minister Kollie.
He also thanked the MFDP team, the media, business community and civil society for the support over the years.
The outgoing Finance Ministry boss said "I came to public service as an unformed 33 year old, and went to the Ministry of Finance as a curious 40 year old and still hungry for knowledge, shaped by his own upbringing and bitter experience" he averred.
According to him, during the height of the Ebola crisis, the staff of the Ministry kept the economy running, making sure that civil servants got paid and on time, and the inflation was kept low digit and exchange rate remained stable.
The Government, he added, ensured that essential commodities were available at reasonable prices; as well as mobilized resources to combat Ebola through domestic trust fund and the establishment of fiscal measures that directed resources to the frontline in the fight.
He explained that the government braced the political storm to enact into law the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning and the Liberia Revenue Authority (LRA). The two institutions, he said, are transforming the way government administers domestic revenue collection, thereby veering from the traditional accounting practice to economic policy and management.
Commenting on his predecessors, Dr. Antoinette Sayeh and Augustine Ngafuan, Minister Konneh said these individuals weathered some tough times in laying the foundation for economic growth and debt relief.
“I want to thank our two former Ministers, Augustine Ngafuan, who took over the Finance Ministry in 2008 and completed the hardest and bravest of fiscal rescue begun by his predecessor, Dr. Antoinette Sayeh who is now with the International Monetary Fund (IMF). These are two distinguished Liberians and superb ministers of Finance that fought to see the cancellation of more than US$4.5 billion debt that opened up our fiscal space for us to be able to do the things that we are doing today. We thank them very much. Thank you Minister Ngafuan and Dr. Sayeh for laying the foundation,” Minister Konneh said.
In remarks, President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf said Liberians should expect more difficult times within the next several months.
“The biggest test is coming, because in the next several months we will have some difficult financial times, but you will have to give your best to make sure we stay the course to deliver not only for your place of work, but for your country,” she said.
The Liberian leader added that outgoing Minister Amara Konneh has been part of the government transformation process and he has achieved a lot. “Amara has come a long way on his professional journey and he has achieved a lot, but he still has many more miles to go," she stressed, adding, "as he enters the new journey, he will even grow in that new profession because during difficult times, he finds solutions to evolving problems and makes sound decisions".
The Liberian Chief Executive also praised Deputy Minister James F. Kollie for supporting outgoing Minister Konneh in ensuring that enough funding always remained in the government’s consolidated accounts in order to make payments; as well as engage partners for budgetary support.
UNDP Country Director Dr. Kamil Kamaludeen, for his part lauded Minister Konneh for the leadership role played during the Ebola fight. Dr. Kamaludden said Minister Konneh play an essential role in keeping the country economy running.
At the same time, the MFDP held its staff recognition awards by presenting awards in several categories to include Most Disciplined employee, Most Serviceable employee, Results Oriented employee, Team Work, Star Performer, and Employee of the Year among others.