The outgoing World Bank Public Sector Specialist, Mr. Raymond Muhula, has said that public reform is a continuous process of a country and as such, everyone needs to contribute in building a vibrant economy.
He said few countries in Africa and Europe have put forward such ambitious and comprehensive plans for public reform.
According to him, the reforms must be an ongoing project, not a one-off exercise, and suggests giving citizens a bigger voice in the process–by strengthening the public financial system and building the capacity of civil servants.
Mr. Muhula made these statements recently when an honor was bestowed upon him by the Ministry of Finance Development and Planning (MFDP) through its Economic Governance and Institution Reform Project (EGIRP) in Monrovia.
The EGIRP project is under the Ministry of Finance and sponsored by the World Bank to help government improve efficiency and transparency in managing public financial management and human resources, focusing on revenue administration, public procurement, budget execution and payroll management.
The project, which started in May 2008 will also support governance and institutional reforms by strengthening public financial management processes and system, building the capacity of civil servants with focus on public procurement as a pilot, and initiating civil service reform and was expected to close on August 31, 2011 but has been extended to June 30, 2015 due to Ebola.
Speaking during his farewell program at the Ministry of Finance, Mr. Muhula noted that the Financial Management System of Liberia can now be compared to any other international Financial Management System.
He said though the project is coming to an end there is still a need to further improve on the system in order to maintain its status, adding that there are more to be done if Liberia must have a successful system.
Mr. Muhula extended his gratitude to the Economic Governance and Institutional Reform Project team for its level of coordination while working together as a team. “I am not so excited because I will miss working with you all. For the past four years I worked in Liberia, I have already established a family with my team,” he said.
Mr. Muhula will be replaced by Mr. Smile Dem Kwawukume who will work with the team until the end of the project on June 30, 2015 due to his new assignment in Austria, Vienna.
Also speaking, the Director of the Financial Management Training Project, Mr. Aagon F. Tingba said before the start of the project, Liberia was painfully recruiting international financial managers but now with the help of the Financial Management Training in the country, there are more qualified people in the system.
He explained that Mr. Muhula played a major role in strengthening the Financial Management System of Liberia, adding that over the past four years, there has been a huge improvement in the system something, he said can be attributed to his involvement.
Mr. Boniface Satu, Project Coordinator of EGIRP, gave an update on its activities and results at a special joint board meeting with the Project Technical Committee and National Steering Committee. He said the original Project Development Objectives (PDO) was designed to improve efficiency and transparency in managing public financial management and human resources, etc.
Mr. Satu said the project is also intended to improve economic governance and strengthen public administration which has been a key priority for the GOL.
This priority, he said, was clearly reflected in the government’s Poverty Reduction Strategy (Lifting Liberia for 2008-2011) under the first PRS pillar: Governance and the rule of law.
The importance attached to this pillar reflects the extent that poor governance, characterized by widespread corruption and abuse of public resources, has eroded public confidence in government, a legacy of the 14 year civil war that destroyed productive assets, physical infrastructure, institutional and human capacity which has untimely led to the collapse of the economy and worsen the living standard of Liberians, he said.
The Project Coordinator of EGIRP also disclosed that due to scale-up activities the government requested additional financing of US$7 million to finance activities to cover the cost overrun, and establish project management as a separate component.