Liberia To Get New Finance Minister


By A Special Correspondent

The Perspective
Atlanta, Georgia

December 15, 2004

Finance Ministry
Bowing to criticisms regarding accountability, transparency and management of government financial resources, Chairman Bryant is said to have started looking for a new minister of finance to replace embattled Losenee Kamara. According to credible sources in both Monrovia and the United States, the Chairman of the transitional government could make the announcement in a matter of days, as soon as the short list he is poring over is reduced to one name.

Recently, civil society organizations have decried corruption in government. Mrs. Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, chair of the Commission on Good Governance, has been very vocal in criticizing government spending priorities. On many occasions, she lamented that government had misplaced priorities and that meager resources were being spent on wasteful luxury things such as cars and international trips while the people are suffering for lack of basic necessities.

When reached by our reporter, a credible source at the Executive Mansion said that he could not comment on the issue, “because, “ he said, “It is a decision the Chairman would make and announce at the appropriate time.” Pressed further, the source said the matter of government finances has been of great concerns to both Liberians and foreigners. “You cannot expect donors to pour their money down the drain. They want to know that the money sent here will serve our people, not just a few who want to live big.” Asked “why now”, the source who insisted on anonymity, responded that a few months ago, dismissing “Minister Kamara would have been like taking orders from the warring factions and there would have been a major squabble about who would nominate his replacement, but now that warring factions are dissolved, it is another story.”

Observers however are skeptical on the timing of such a move. One political leader hinted that with pressure mounting from all corners, Bryant is looking for a scapegoat. “And with all this talk about financial mismanagement, who could be a better candidate than Minister Kamara to serve as sacrificial lamb?” he added. The political leader also pointed out to the fact that this information was probably leaked on purpose because the IMF, World Bank and US Treasury teams are expected in the country shortly to review the government performance. “This whole government is corrupt and the best thing now is for us to move diligently towards elections. Kamara is not the only one eating the people money.”

Among those mentioned as possible candidates to replace Minister Kamara include: Mr. Wilson Tarpeh, former African Development Bank official and former minister of finance during the transitional government in the 1990s, Mr. Richard Tolbert, a financial analyst in New York, USA and Mr. Charles Minor, current Liberian ambassador to the United States. Another possible candidate is said to be the current Liberian representative at the World Bank.

Last weekend, while touring Waterside, Chairman was booed by marketers who accused him of being a thief. He still cannot shake away from questions about the money paid by a Chinese entity for the stockpile of iron ore in Buchanan nor why he decided to spend millions to buy expensive jeeps for government and legislators when the country was faced with major financial difficulties.

During his recent trip to the US, when asked to comment on rumors concerning the million dollars he allegedly spent to buy armored jeeps for himself, Mr. Bryant said the cost was $250,000 and not one million dollars. But during his recent press conference in Monrovia, Mr. Bryant changed the figure from $250,00 to 366,000 without any explanation. ( The more than $520 million promised by donor countries almost a year ago have yet to materialize because of government’s poor financial records.

It remains to be seen how the replacement of one minister would make any difference in a corrupt system.