-As Gov’t expects to collect US$570.148M
The Government of Liberia through the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning (MFDP) on Friday, November 9, officially launched the Fiscal Year 2018/19 Open Budget Initiative (OBI) in Buchanan, Grand Bassa County.
The launch of the OBI is intended to create awareness that will draw the public’s attention to the process and promote access to fiscal documents.
Assistant Director for OBI and Coordinator at the MFDP, Johnson S. N. Williams, said the budget awareness initiative is a government priority and is aligned with President George Weah’s Pro-Poor Agenda for Prosperity and Development (PAPD) that was launched in Ganta, Nimba County.
Director Williams indicated that budget awareness will be held across the country to enable citizens to have access and build their knowledge of fiscal documents.
During the process, he said, the MFDP would interact with different sectors including the National Legislature, Executive Branch, Budget Technicians, Service Providers and Civil Society Organizations in the country.
According to him, budgets are resources that are allocated based on policy decisions of the country. The director also said the national budget is made up of two components which include strategic planning and operational planning.
Deputy Finance Minister for Fiscal Affairs, Samora P. Z. Wolokollie, who launched the OBI on behalf of Minister Samuel Tweah, said the launch of the fiscal year 2018/19 is the first edition of the citizen’s guide to the national budget of the Weah administration.
This government, according to Wolokollie, took office on January 22, and recognized some progress made by the previous government and appreciates the commitment for a certain level of fiscal transparency and accountability.
Wolokollie said there have been challenges confronting the country’s economy since 2008, when the world economic meltdown affected the export commodities, such as iron ore, rubber, timber, gold, and diamonds. “Additionally, we continue to face systemic decline in the value of our Liberian dollar against the foreign currency.
“In a simple sense, we continue to face an increase in our exchange rate. But, let me say that this government has recognized these challenges and is determined to tackle them. For example, we took some drastic action in reducing some recurrent expenditures and invested more into capital projects that would better the lives of our people,” Wolokollie said.
He said these measures are aimed at implementing sound macroeconomic, financial, and fiscal policies which will boost revenue collection in order for government to provide needed services.
“To achieve these goals,” the Deputy Minister said, “the FY2018/19 budget is expected to collect US$570.148 million; with this, we will be able to pay salaries of all government workers including teachers, doctors, nurses, and others as well as pay for other important services for the government operations.”
He said the remaining fund will be invested in construction, rehabilitation of roads and bridges and continue the expansion of transmission and distribution lines of electricity to connect more homes.
He further explained that “the fund will also provide essential additional materials and crucial drugs of medical supplies and diversify the agricultural sector to meet their counterparts funding payments and continue rehabilitation of critical economic infrastructure services of our debts as well as other major infrastructural developments when they become due in term of their payments.”
“We will ensure that we fund legislative projects for their districts’ development. As you are already aware, the government has adopted a new five-year development plan named the PAPD, this plan patronizes roads and bridges,” Wolokollie said.
The Open Budget Initiative is a global research and advocacy program to promote public access to budget information and adaption of account budget systems. The open forum discussions were attended by students, principals, vice principals teachers, and a team from the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning.