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Editorial: Towards an effective public financial management system

Editorial: The United States Ambassador to Liberia Michael McCarthy has stressed a need for the Government of Liberia to do much more in consolidating government cash balances into a Treasury Single Account. He also pointed out that state-owned enterprises in the country are still not subject to appropriate oversight and accountability for how they use and manage the revenues they generate.

Ambassador McCarthy raised these concerns while speaking on Liberia’s public financial management system at a recent forum in Monrovia.

Indeed, consolidating government cash balances into a single account remains a serious challenge for the Weah administration, characterized by lack of proper accountability and corruption. Without a transparent consolidated account, it is difficult to trace the proper use of public money, as it is unfolding now.

The US Ambassador also called on the government to ensure funds are used for their designated purposes, making specific reference to the diversion of money from the National Road Fund by the Minister of Finance Samuel Tweah to “pay salaries.”

“I understand that road rehabilitation and maintenance is a high priority for the Liberian government under the PAPD. However, despite this prioritization, millions of dollars of essential funding from the Road Maintenance Fund have unfortunately been used for other purposes – in violation of the Road Maintenance Act and fundamental public financial management principles”, Mr. McCarthy pointed out.

It is important that the Government of Liberia listen to these concerns raised by our Traditional Partner – the United States and recalibrate the public financial management system of the state in order to conform with international best practices.

Instead, officials here take pride in justifying the untransparent ways they expend public funds with no regard whatsoever to the hundreds of thousands if not millions of people affected by their missteps. This has to stop!

Take, for example, the operations of State-Owned Enterprises like the Liberia Petroleum Refining Corporation, National Port Authority, and others that generate millions annually and expend funds unilaterally without proper account to the public. These places are the bedrock for corruption that even the Executive connive with to the detriment of the people.

Another classic example of corruption with the acquiescence of the Executive is what is obtaining at the Liberia Institute for Statistics and Geo-Information which has led to the repeated postponement of the national census. With apparent blind eyes by the Executive, officials at LISGIS are doing everything currently to silence the whistleblower, Mr. Williams, as they bath in the census money. This is unfortunate.

We call on the Executive to muster political will to immediately intervene in what is obtaining at LISGIS that has a propensity to discourage donor partners from contributing to a major endeavor such as the national census that has been dragged to March 2023, barely seven months to presidential and general elections.   

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