I watched Finance Minister Amara Konneh on TV really enjoying himself as he pronounced the dismissal of an additional eight employees of the Expenditure Department of the Ministry of Finance for what he termed “singular and collective negligence” that led to a deficit of US$11.2 million in the budget of the Ministry of Education.  Minister Konneh also said that he could not prove criminal intent on the part of the employees but yet still he had to dismiss them for causing the horrible deficit.

As I watched Minister Konneh try frantically to gain public approval for his “house cleansing” exercise, my mind was bothered with a series of questions: I thought that a committee named the “Wage Bill Committee” consisting of the Ministry of Finance, Civil Service Agency, Justice, GAC and the Liberia National Police was constituted to look into the entire issue of firstly whether there exists a deficit and what and/or who caused the deficit?
If so, has the Committee completed its work and found these employees culpable?
If the answer is yes, then where is the Committee’s Report?

Why wouldn’t Minister Konneh be transparent enough to publish the Report of the Committee so that the public can evaluate the soundness of its conclusion and the appropriateness of Konneh’s latest dismissals?

In the event that the Committee has not concluded its work as we are gathering from credible sources, what was the motive of Minister Konneh summary dismissal of the employees in the absence of the Report?  Hearsay? Witch-hunt? Finding jobs for Konneh’s  gang of political loyalists?

If the Committee has not finished its work, then Minister Konneh’s action should be roundly condemned as it seriously prejudices and undermines the investigation and renders the Committee Report irrelevant. If such is the case, Konneh needs to be ordered to immediately reinstate the employees in the interest of fair-play.

But another thing boggles my mind seriously, US$11.2 million is so huge an amount that I find it hard to believe that ordinary civil servants will “singularly and collectively” collude to steal as Konneh is  suggesting?  Or is he again trying to get at his predecessor Foreign Minister Augustine Ngafuan but is trying to use these poor employees as scapegoats?  

Given the gravity of the situation and the impression of theft that Minister Konneh has created around it, I urge the President to set up an Independent Committee (the first committee was set-up by Konneh himself) to probe deeply into this matter and come out with clear explanation of whether indeed there is US$11.2 million dollar deficit, how and who caused the deficit.  The Report should be submitted to the President who should publish the Report.

From my own investigation thus far, I am led to think that Minister Konneh, being an IT  man, not a financial expert, is finding it difficult to understand issues of budget deficit and budget surplus and as a result of his confusion, he is jumping all over the place trying to find thieves when there are no thieves.  Truth crush to the ground will rise again triumphant.