The 12-member committee of the Nimba Budget Forum was on Saturday, August 20, inducted into office as part of the Integrated Public Financial Management Reform Project of the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning.
The Nimba Budget Forum is tasked to honestly inform Nimba citizens on the transacting of public funds in the county; promote transparency and accountability in the management of public funds; reconcile opinions on the state of public finance; and build trust between local authorities and citizens.
William Larpeh, Chairman of the Nimba Budget Forum, said the 12 member committee will create awareness among citizens on the National Budget as a political and economic instrument for decision making that impacts their lives.
“The forum will train citizens on the workings of the National Budget and its mechanisms, advocate for Nimba’s fair share of the National Budget and provide citizens access to the National Budget document each fiscal year,” Mr. Larpeh said.
He explained further that the Nimba Budget Forum will be responsible to track the flow of public funds from the national government to the county; conduct social audits of public funded projects in Nimba; track budget lines of Nimba’s public funds as they relate to various operations of government agencies;
inform the citizens on all matter of public monies that impacts their lives and regularly publish and circulate fact sheets as they relate to opinions of citizens on the management of public funds.
“Having stated this,” Mr. Larpeh said, “the forum is not and will not be or seek to become or replace the statutory mandate of government agencies entrusted with the responsibility to account for government funds.”
The Integrated Public Financial Management Reform Project was introduced in 2012 to reform Liberia’s public finance sector by providing effective and efficient means and mechanisms to promote accountability in the country’s public finance. Its objectives are to enhance budget planning, coverage and credibility, fiscal policy management or reviewing the PFM legal framework, budget execution, accounting and reporting, among others.
The integrated Public Financial Management Reform Project (IPFMRP) of the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning is part of the “Open Budget Initiative of the Government of Liberia.” It is being implemented by a local civil society organization, “Grassroots Democracy,” based in Nimba.
Last year Grassroots Democracy launched the media component of the Open Budget Initiative to enable media institutions to disseminate the information regarding the functions of the budget forum.
In one of their analyses, the budget forum found out that in the 2015/16 National Budget, for example, Nimba County, with a population of 460,026 (2008 census), received US$608,491, a ratio of US$1.37 per person, while Grand Kru County, with a population of 57,440, received US$855,048, which translates to US$14.76 per person.
The budget forum says it will check on all of these discrepancies to know what yardstick the government used in terms of equitable development, considering that the population of Nimba is more than the population of seven counties combined.
The 12 member committee, comprising 10 men and two women, was selected from across the county from different professional backgrounds, including the media.