Monrovia - Acting United States Ambassador to Liberia Sam Watson says a transparent and inclusive budget process is essential to facilitating investment, ensuring efficient outcomes and holding government accountable for managing public resources.
Mr. Watson described fiscal transparency as a best practice, saying there is a growing acceptance that the active engagement of citizens, civil society and the media in the budget process is a good thing.
He said the US embassy is helping to change the approach with Fiscal Transparency Fund (FTIF), a State Department fund co-managed with USAID to help countries improve their public financial management.
The US Ambassador said to assist the Government of Liberia, through USAID, is working with Internews to improve access to and analysis of budget practices and expenditures at the national level through the “Liberia Media Budget Monitoring for Accountability” activity.
According to him, the activity will strengthen the capacity of media houses, community radio stations, and independent journalist to provide accurate reporting on Government of Liberia budget processes and expenditures, to conduct objective fiscal policy analysis for policy makers and citizens, and to serve as a watchdog in understanding developments in Liberia.
He said as Liberia gears up for the October elections, it is important to recognize that transparency in the budgeting process also informs public debate and assists voters in focusing on issues and asking candidates the hard questions to inform voters’ decision making.
The US government, he said, is committed to standing beside Liberia and supporting the country’s goals in development, prosperity peace and democracy.
Ambassador Watson spoke at the launch of the Liberia Media Budget Monitoring for Accountability program by Internews in Monrovia.
Seventy four people (23 women; 49 males) attended the launch of the Liberia Media Budget Monitoring for Accountability (LMBMA) project on Tuesday at Corina Hotel in Sinkor.
The event brought representatives from the media, civil society, government and international organizations to discuss strategies for engaging media and civil society on public finance.
Tanneh Brunson, deputy minister for Finance Development and Planning (MFDP) delivered the keynote address, followed by special remarks from Samuel R. Watson, Charge d’Affaires & Acting US Ambassador
Two panels discussed the government revenue generation scheme and the social county development fund and its impact on public finance and communities.
Mr. Negbalee Warner, dean of the Louis Arthur Grimes School of Law moderated the panel: ‘’Understanding Government’s Revenue Generation Scheme and its Implications on Public Finance and Communities.’
The panelists included: Mrs. Decontee King-Sackie, Deputy Commissioner for Technical Services, Liberia Revenue Authority, LRA; Tanneh Brunson, Deputy Minister for Finance & Development Planning (MFDP); Dorbor Jallah, CEO, Public Procurement Concessions Commission, (PPCC);Arthur W. B. Fumbah, President, Liberian Institute of Certified Public Accounts and founding member of the Liberian Institute for Tax Practitioners; and Julius Caesar, Legislative Budget Director.
Gerald Yeakula, program manager, moderated the panel on: “Following County and Social Development Funds: From Approval to Disbursement, Implementation and Impact.’’
The panelists comprise: Myer W. Saye, Deputy Head of the Secretariat, Liberia Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (LEITI); Mrs. Gbeme Horace-Kollie, Deputy Minister for Operation, Ministry of Internal Affairs; Foday Fahnbulleh, director, Fuamah Progressive Platform, Fuamah District, Bong County; Mrs. Florence Brandy, Superintendent of Monsterrado County.