Liberia: Top Positions in Weah-led Government Vacant for over a Year

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MONROVIA – FrontPageAfrica has been informed by sources close to the presidency that the delay by President George Weah in appointing officials to several vacant seats in his government is reportedly due to an “in-house fight” amongst top officials who have close proximity to the Liberian leader.

There are a lot of top positions still pending appointment by President Weah, including Liberia’s seat at the United Nations (UN) which was occupied by Ambassador Dee-Maxwell Saah Kemayah, now Minister of Foreign Affairs, position at the level of the African Union,(AU), the appointment of a Minister of Public works, and the head of the Internal Audit Agency (IAA) and few others.

The seat of the UN Permanent Representative has been vacant since September 2020 after President Weah named Amb. Kemayah who held the post as Minister of Foreign Affairs.

Mr. Emmanuel B Nyeswa who headed the Internal Audit Agency (IAA) died mysteriously on October 10, 2020 after he reportedly fell from the balcony of his home to the ground. His post has been vacant since then.

Since his incumbency, President Weah is yet to formulate a full Board of Tax Appeals.

The Board of Tax Appeals, a five-member deliberative body that hears taxpayer appeals from determinations by the Liberia Revenue Authority and emergency protests of the Commissioner General’s actions and is the final administrative remedy available to taxpayers. The Board has the authority to approve, modify, or reverse a determination of the Minister. The taxpayer may appeal a decision of the Board to the Liberia Tax Court, provided that the appeal is lodged within 30 days of the Board’s decision and is in conformity with the rules of the Tax Court.

The Board is independent of the Ministry of Finance and the Liberia Revenue Authority. The Board is administered under the authority of the Ministry of Finance, but has autonomous decision-making power. The Ministry may appeal any decision of the Board to the Liberia Tax Court, provided that the appeal is lodged within 30 days of the Board’s decision and is in conformity with the rules of the Tax Court.

According to Section (e) of the Revised Revenue Code of Liberia states that “The members of the Board are to be appointed by the President with the concurrence of the Legislature for a term of five years, for no more than two consecutive terms.”

FrontPageAfrica has obtained documents that show that the Weah-led government has since failed to appoint the board since it came to power in 2018.

This has not only stalled revenue that could be earned by the government but is also diminishing investors’ confidence in sincerity of government’s revenue collection and compliance with international best practice.

During the inception of the government in 2018, the Minister of State for Presidential Affairs, Mr. Nathaniel McGill was informed by the Board of Tax Appeals’ administration of the need to reconstitute the board but to no avail.

According to sources, people with top positions who have a bond with the President are reportedly influencing decisions of appointments on “the basis of friendship, party interest or personal interest.”

“It is not that there are no qualified Liberian for these positions but this has been the situation. Top officials of government are fighting each other for these positions,” sources told FrontPageAfrica.

“It is either their relatives or close friends everyone wants to be decision maker this is why the President is still holding back on some of these decisions.”

On last Tuesday, some members of the Senate  expressed concern over the prolonged delay by President Weah to appoint a new Minister of Public Works since the death of Mobutu Nyenpan who died on October 30, 2020 after a brief illness.

Madam Ruth Coker-Collins has been acting in the position for more than 16 months and the Senate is now concerned about her legitimacy to preside over the finances and running of the ministry.

The Senators including Edwin Snowe of Bomi County, Milton Teahjay of Sinoe County have all spoken about her long period of acting.

At Tuesday budget hearing, the Senate Committee on Ways, Means and Finance recommended that the operational budget of the Ministry be withheld in the absence of a minister proper.

“This is a minister that has acted for more than 16 months. In such a position people are sceptical about how they do business with her. We need the necessary representation to the president to either appoint her permanently or get a new minister to take the position,” Senator Snowe said.

Like Senator Snowe, Senator Teahjay also wants a new minister or the acting Minister status be legitimized to a minister proper role. His recommendation was given consideration by committee members who promised to forward the recommendation to the plenary of the Senate.

In support to the comments, Senator Johnathan Sogbie wrote Plenary of the Senate, raising concern about unfilled seats created in government coupled with individuals acting in positions perpetually without adherence as provided under certain provisions of the constitution of Republic of Liberia.

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