— IREDD Releases 2019 Open Budget Survey
Prior to the world been hit by the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, the Institute for Research and Democratic Development (IREDD) in 2019 conducted an unprecedented Open Budget Survey (OBS) of the George Weah’s led government and uncovered weak transparency of the Executive and poor oversight of the Legislature including a very low citizens participation in the budget process.
The 2019 OBS is the first survey under President Weah, which mean the government began with “massive failure” in transparency, oversight and citizens involvement of the national budget.
The Survey was released on Monday, May 4.
According to the Executive Director of IREDD, Mr. Harold Aidoo, the Liberian government scored 38% percent in transparency; 48% in budget oversight and 6% in public (citizens) participation.
The OBS was conducted by IREDD from December 31, 2018 to June 30, 2019 — six out the 12 months of the 2018/2019 national budget which ran from July 1, 2018 to June 30, 2019.
The 2019 OBS pointed out that the Liberian government failed to reach the minimum threshold for adequate budget transparency and oversight and also dismal opportunity dor public participation in the budget in order for citizens to hold the government accountable.
Mr. Aidoo said the Liberia is among countries in the bottom of the 117 surveyed countries.
The 2019 OBS is the fifth Survey, which began in 2010.
Liberia scored 40%, 43%, 38% and 36% in Transparency respectively in 2010, 2012, 2015 and 2017 — meaning four OBS were conducted under President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf.
According to the eight OBS indicators, the government failed to make five (5) documents available ( for public consumption), they include: the pre-budget statement, citizens budget, in-year budget, mid year review and audit reports.
The OBS indicators stated only three were publicized, namely, the Executive Budget Proposal, Enacted Budget and the Year end report; while the oversight from the Legislature over the budget was poor.
The OBS is the World ‘s only independent, comparative and fact based research instrument what uses internationally accepted criteria to assess public access to (central) government budget information; formal opportunities for the public to participate in the national budget process; and the role of budget oversight institutions such as the Legislature and auditor in the budget process.
The survey is based on a questionnaire completed in a country by an independent budget expert, in Liberia, is IREDD, and to further stengthen the research, each country ‘s draft questionnaire is also reviewed by an anonymous independent expert, and by a representative of the Ministry of Finance and Development.