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Thursday, July 25, 2024

Liberia: Finance Minister Resigns Over ‘Strange Happenings’

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By Festus Poquie

Liberian Finance Minister Boima Kamara has resigned from his position, nearly seven months into the new administration due to  “strange phenomenon” that have impacted his ability to continue in the role.

The move comes as the government negotiates a new program with the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

In a letter of resignation submitted to the President’s office early Monday morning, Kamara cited health-related issues as the reason for his departure. The Executive Mansion has yet to respond, leaving it unclear whether the President will accept or reject the minister’s resignation.

Prior to his resignation, Kamara had reportedly informed his finance ministry staff that his confidence had been low since taking over the minister’s role due to mysterious occurrences that made him “not be himself” whenever he entered the ministry’s office, suggesting the involvement of voodoo.

The President had grown wary of the minister’s unexplained illness, which had kept him away from work for extended periods. At one point, the President inquired whether Kamara could continue in the job, and the Vice President intervened to hold talks with the minister about the matter.

How it started

In early May, the Oracle News Daily reported the former Central Banker was contemplating stepping down from the Boakai administration after only four months in office due to a confluence of factors affecting his responsibilities.

According to sources familiar with the matter, Kamara has grown increasingly frustrated and dissatisfied with the sheer magnitude of problems he inherited at the ministry. The former central banker feels he lacks the necessary control to effectively address the issues at hand.

The complexities of managing the Finance Ministry now, in comparison to his previous tenure from 2016 to 2018, have become overwhelming, particularly within the power-sharing arrangement involving the ruling Unity Party and coalition partners.

One account suggests that Kamara’s principal deputies were imposed on him, rather than being selected based on the requisite skills and team spirit needed to manage the country’s economy.

The minister is currently bedridden and has been absent from the office for nearly two weeks, seeking medical treatment. While the details of his illness remain unclear, those close to him describe it as a serious health complication with suspected voodoo involvement.

Kamara’s office could not be reached for comment regarding his potential resignation. Phone calls and SMS went unanswered.

Prior to his current appointment, Boima Kamara served as Finance Minister under former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf from 2016 to 2018. He holds a degree in financial economics from Johns Hopkins University in the United States and previously served as the deputy governor for economic affairs at the Central Bank of Liberia.

Following President Joseph Boakai’s victory after the November 14, 2023 vote, Kamara led the finance and economy cluster of the transitional team, hoping for a return to the central bank, where he felt more comfortable after rising through the institution’s ranks.

The Bank’s governance structure makes his ambition impossible and can only wait until the current team of governors fall out of favor with the President.

In his first quarter as Finance Minister, Kamara has focused on limiting the country’s bloated wage bill, which sits around $300 million per year.

The Liberian economy is expected to expand by 5.3% in 2024 and average 5.9% growth in 2024–26. Maintaining macroeconomic stability, prudent fiscal consolidation, and the implementation of ongoing structural reforms in key enabling sectors are crucial for medium-term growth prospects, according to the World Bank.

 

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