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Ellen Johnson Sirleaf Warns Of Difficult Times Ahead For Liberians

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President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf has told Liberians to expect more difficult times within the next several months.

The Liberian leader made the statement at ceremonies marking the first employees and farewell program of the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning for outgoing minister Amara Mohammed Konneh.

“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 for your place of work, but for your country,” the Liberian leader told a gathering Friday.

Although the President didn’t explain in details with regards to her recent statement, but economists are of the view that her statement could be derived as a result of the ongoing global economic meltdown that is affecting the country greatly, in terms of generating the needed revenue to keep the economy running in full swing.

The fall in the global prices of iron ore and rubber has contributed to low revenue generation of the sector as has been expected earlier. But the government has announced that plans are ongoing to have the economy diversified so that other tree crops could contribute to its revenue generation ceiling.

Liberia, a country blessed by God with numerous natural resources but has failed to diversify its economy for the past two decades, depending hugely on iron ore and rubber.

President Sirtleaf said 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 finds many more miles to go,” she stressed.

She added “and 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 making sound decisions.

She believes that Mr. Konneh will perform well in his new portfolio, stating “We know that he is going to do well because we have seen him do well,” President Sirleaf noted.

She acknowledged the support from Deputy Minister for Fiscal Affairs James Kollie to the years, something he said, helped to make Konneh’s success at the ministry. “Amara could not have achieved without the support from you (James), Deputy Minister for Fiscal Affairs; you helped him make this happen.

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However, she said it has been a pleasure working with Mr. Konneh, adding that it has been a pleasure to be your boss.
Speaking earlier, Minister Konneh was full of praise for Dep. Minister James Kollie for the support he rendered during his administration at the ministry. He said Dr. Kollie has been very helpful both in moral and physical ways.

“I want to thank you for service to your country; you have been loyal and have make me to be a better minister,” Konneh stressed, adding, in tough and professional times, he is a patriot in the true sense of the word.”

The outgoing minister also thanked the MFDP team, the media, business community and civil society for the support over the years.

Speaking further, he 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 which are shaped by my own upbringing and bitter experiences in life”.

According to him, during the height of the Ebola crisis, the government kept the economy running, making sure that civil servants received pay on time and the inflation was kept at low digit and exchange rate stable.

The Government, he added, ensured that essential commodities were available at reasonable prices as well as mobilizing resources for the Ebola fight through domestic trust fund and putting into place fiscal measures that directed resources to the frontline in the fight.

He explained that the government braced the political storm to enact into the law the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning and the Liberia Revenue Authority (LRA).

The two institutions, he narrated, are transforming the way government administers domestic revenue collection and moves places emphasis on economic policy and management.

Dr. Kamil Kamaludeen, Country Director UNDP Liberia, lauded Mr. Konneh for the leadership he role played during the Ebola fight. Dr. Kamaludden said Mr. Konneh played an essential role in helping to make the country’s 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.

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