The New Dawn (Monrovia)

24 January 2013

Liberia: LACC Boss Wants FOI Open

Liberia's Anti-Corruption Commission or LACC Chair, Cllr. Francis Johnson Allison has called for the complete openness of the Freedom of Information law to the public. The LACC boss said as the law stands some portion forbid ordinary citizens from requesting certain information from public or government offices.

Speaking Wednesday at the launch of the Government's 'Open Budget Initiative' held at the Ministry of Finance, Cllr. Allison said when the law is completely open it will give the public clear understanding on how their taxes are being spend by government, while stressing complete transparency at various government ministries and agencies.

The open budget initiative is a system through which the national budget is summarized on screen in video form on an electronic bill board erected in the compound of the Ministry of Finance through the sponsorship of USAID and the African Development Bank or ADB.

It projects break down of expenditure in different sectors. The bill board is internet connected and provides complete information on the national budget. The Anti Corruption boss described the bill board as the first step in fighting corruption in Liberia. President Johnson Sirleaf did the official turning on of the bill board.

Making remarks, Finance Minister Amara Konneh said the board is a complete symbol of the budget that will help the common man to understand the budget. He said Liberia's budget is not a secret, adding, "all citizens need to have access to the budget.

With this electronic bill board, he said it will help those who do not have access to the budget to know what government is doing with the revenue collected. "....if we are open or we work hard to be opened as government, it will encourage the people who we work for to be opened as well," he noted.

The program was graced by President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the US Ambassador to Liberia and other foreign diplomats here.

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