The Inquirer (Monrovia)

24 January 2013

Liberia: Ellen Unveils Bill Board At Finance

In an effort to be committed to transparency and accountability, President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf has officially inaugurated an electronic billboard, right in front of the Ministry of Finance. The ceremony took place yesterday and brought together cabinet ministers, members of the diplomatic corps as well as former Finance Ministers who served this country in past governments.

The billboard will display an updated profile of Liberia's public finances in a manner that the ordinary man and woman on the street will understand.

The US Government, via the USAID-funded Governance and Economic Management Support (USAID-GEMS) project, provided funding and technical assistance for the billboard; and the African Development Bank through support to the Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) is also providing support to capacity needs of the effort.

The billboard is expected to assist the Finance Ministry implement its open budget initiative which the government began taking steps over the past few years towards a more open budget.

Speaking before the official launch of the billboard, Finance Minister Amara Konneh told the audience that the introduction of the electronic board is just the beginning of the government's effort to be sincere with the people. He said the Ministry would rather prefer prevention than cure when it comes to collection of data.

"If we work harder and remain open, our partners will be encouraged to support us. Madam President, I present to you the open budget billboard.

This is connected to the internet. We try to be open to the people so that they can know the workings of the Finance Ministry," Minister Konneh said.

Additionally, the billboard will be served by dynamic information systems linked into the MOF financial data - that would allow the Ministry to describe and track the budget, and its execution. The Ministry of Finance has also produced a citizen guide to the FY 2012/13 budget with support from the African Development Bank.

The target audience for the OBI electronic billboard is the ordinary man and woman on the street - the person who is not necessarily serviced by the internet or newspaper. The Ministry of Finance and USAID-GEMS team designed the content and layout of the billboard display specifically for the audience.

Liberia signed to the international Open Government Partnership in November 2011, which commits it to increasing the availability of information about governmental activities, supporting civic participation, establishing the highest standards of professional integrity throughout Government, and increasing access to new technologies for openness and accountability.

USAID-GEMS is a five-year technical assistance project to support the Government of Liberia's own initiatives to improve performance through human and institutional capacity building within government ministries, agencies, and commissions.

The African Development Bank's Fragile State Facility is geared towards support service delivery in African states such as Liberia and countries that have emerged from conflict to rapidly transform their efficiency, outputs in Public Financial management.

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