The Informer (Monrovia)

25 January 2013

Liberia: Govt. Budget On Screen - Finance Wants Liberians Watch

The Government of Liberia has uploaded pieces of information on the country National Budget on a giant screen at the Ministry of Finance for public viewing.

The Opened Budget Electronic Billboard (OBEB), as it is called was erected as symbol of government's commitment's to openness in the administration of the country's finances, Amara Konneh, Liberia's Minister of Finance has said.

Konneh said "the electronic Billboard will enable Liberians to hold their government accountable to the people." He added that the MoF has concluded arrangements with community radios across the country, as well as the mass media to disseminate information about the budget across Liberia.

"For our country to grow and develop, we recognize as the custodian of public finances, we must have the trust and confident of the Liberian people. They know we will deliver and make sure of the government promises to them," he said.

He said the OBED well provide public access to government's financial records to boost transparency and accountability.

He added that it will also inform the people on how much money is being collected and how it is spent.

According to Konneh, openness in the execution of the country's fiscal budget will give Liberia's international partners the confidence to offer more to the country's recovery.

He indicated that Liberia has risen from three to forty on the Open Budget Initiative and promised to further move the country to a higher mark in the next two years.

In addition to the launch of the billboard, the ministry has released its first budget performance report to the legislature. The ministry also released a simple English book on the budget call "Citizens Guide to the Budget."

Konneh mentioned that the ministry has created an online voucher tracking system aimed at curtailing difficulties face my ministries and agencies.

He further the eight ministries have been connected to the government Integrated Financial Management System (IFMIS), also aimed at easing government's transactions.

He said the General Auditing Commission and the Central Bank of Liberia will also be connected to IFMIS before the end of the fiscal period.

President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf turned the screen on at a click of a button of a tablet. The Liberian Leader watched for little over four minutes, while Konneh explained every slide that appeared on the screen.

For her part, United States Ambassador accredited near Monrovia, Madam Deborah Malac, said her country is committed to support Liberia development program once the country remains committed to open budget system.

She added that the initiative is a commitment to transparency and accountability in Liberia. She said the project is also part of the country's devotion to open budget initiative which Liberia joined in 2008.

Amb. Malac said the USAID funded project will further afford citizens and stakeholders a clear understanding of the country's national budget.

Also speaking at the launch, the Executive Director of the Liberia Media Center (LMC), Mr. Lawrence Randall, said the initiative represents a milestone and a critical step for promoting transparency, open governance and information corridor in Liberia.

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