Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) operating in the country, under the banner of the National Budget and Human Rights Forum have described as "unfair" the lack of citizen's participation in the formulation of the country's national fiscal budget.
"We think that it is unfair as CSOs that our national budget is developed only by the Executive branch of government," Prince Kreplah, Executive Directors of the Citizens United to Promote Peace & Democracy in Liberia, said.
Every year the President sends a draft national budget to the National Legislature (representing the lager Liberian society including CSOs) for scrutiny and passage into law. Preceding that, line ministries and agencies submit estimate revenues and expenditures which are compiled and sent to the President by the Ministry of Finance for enactment into law. At the National legislature, major stakeholders, through budget hearings, are allowed to make inputs before the legislature makes final decision on the country's financial instrument.
However, Kreplah said civil society and the general public are not given the right to form part of the formulation and that what surfaces at the Legislature as the national budget is almost always the final decision--whether in the interest of the masses or not.
"The way the budget is formulated suggests that the citizens do not have inputs--only the government officials are formulating our budge," Kreplah claimed, wondering, "where is the interest of the citizens."
He furthered that: "There is no input of the citizens in the budget formulation. However, the budget supposed to be for the citizens. All the development initiatives under the budget--health, education; Water, Sanitation and Hygiene, roads and bridges are intended to address the livelihoods of the people. So, in my mind, it is the human rights requirement of the people to form part of the budget formulation so that they decide what areas should be given priority in the budget instead of only the lines ministries and agencies deciding the public's fate."
The CSO executive claimed that "the way the budget is formulated is totally wrong" and CSO's would like to see that in the next budget formulation there would be a platform where the citizens will determine their priority in their national budget.
Kreplah was speaking last Thursday in Monrovia during a two day training organized by the National Budget and Human Rights Forum for 30 of its members from seven of the country's 15 counties.
The National Budget and Human Rights Forum is a platform of local civil society organizations working on human rights issues and doing budget, integrity, transparency and accountability advocacy in Liberia.