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GOL launches open budget initiative in Buchanan

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The Government of Liberia through the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning (MFDP) officially launched the Fiscal Year 2018/19 Open Budget Initiative (OBI) recently in Buchanan, Grand Bassa County.

According to the MFDP, the launch of the OBI is intended to create awareness that will draw the public knowledge of the process and promote access to the fiscal documents.

Addressing the audience at the start of the launch, Assistant Director for OBI Johnson S.N. Williams, told residents that 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 recently launched in Ganta, Nimba County.

Assistant Director Williams indicated that the budget awareness will be held across the country to enable citizens have access and build their knowledge of the fiscal documents.He said the MDFP will interact with different sectors including the 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 that the national budget is made up of two components which include strategy planning and operational planning.

Launching the OBI on behalf of Minister Samuel Tweah, Deputy Finance Minister for Fiscal Affairs Samora P.Z. Wolokollie 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 government.

According to Wolokollie, the Weah led- government recognizes some progress made by previous government and appreciates the commitment for a certain level of fiscal transparency and accountability.

“Today, we renew that commitment and pledge our government’s fullest support to sustain the gain made in these directions,” he said.Mr. Wolokollie noted that it is important to respite that this the current government has inherited a challenged economy and continues to face serious economic challenges.

Wolokollie said these challenges have been 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 system decline in the value of our Liberian dollar against the foreign currency. In simple sense, we continue to face an increase in our exchange rates,” he continued.He said government has recognized these challenges and is determined to tackle down on them.

According to him, government took some drastic action in reducing some recurrent expenditures and investing more into capital projects that would better the lives of the people.He said these measures are aimed at implementing sound microeconomic, financial, fiscal policy which will boost revenue collections so that government can provide the needed services.

To achieve these goals, Wolokollie said the FY2018/19 budget is expected to collect US$570.148 million.For his part, a representative from the office of the Buchanan City Mayor, Moses D. Haynes, applauded the Government through the MFDP and the budget department for taking the budget forum discussion to them.

The Open Budget Initiative is a global research and advocacy program to promote public access to budget information and adoption of account budget systems.The open forum was attended by students and school authorities, and the team from the Ministry of Finance and Development planning.

By Lewis S. Teh–Edited by Winston W. Parley

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