By Thomas Domah, Nimba County
The Ministry of Finance and Development Planning has ended a three-day technical working session in Ganta, Nimba County on public financial management, highlighting the Public Expenditure Financial Accountability (PEFA) report of 2020.
The Head of the Public Financial Management (PFM) Reform Coordination Unit at the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning, Spencer Adolphus Weah said the exercise is part of an ongoing Public Expenditure and Financial Accountability (PEFA) assessment.
He said the first assessment was done in 2007, followed by the second in 2012 and the third in 2020, respectively, but noted throughout those assessments, scores have not been favorable with specific reference to the 2020 assessment, which was jointly conducted by the Liberian government and the World Bank in collaboration with other development partners, including the International Monetary Fund, European Union, and the Swedish government through SIDA.
Mr. Weah explained that Public Expenditure and Financial and Accountability is mostly concerned with assessing public financial management status in the country, particularly reliability of the national budget with regards to implementation as planned, and how well is the public informed about public expenditure and service delivery.
He said PEFA work also considers timelines in submission of draft budget to the national legislature and assessments are necessary to know how well reforms are taking place in the public sector.
He noted factors responsible for poor performance as untimely submission of the budget to the national legislature that is supposed to be done in 60 days to the commencement of the next fiscal year, which he said, has not been the case, as evidenced by Ministry of Finance and Development Planning continuous request for additional time in submission of the budget.
Last year, the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning requested for additional 15 days, which is not also considered by the Public Expenditure and Financial Accountability (PEFA) secretariat in terms of its rating”, Weah added.
Participants for the training came from various public financial management institutions, including PPCC, IAA, GAC, MFDP and Ministry of Health, among others, with focus on seeking ways of improving the poor performance scores that he described are terrible with lots of D+ as rating for the different pillars.
He said the PEFA secretariat rating is from A to D+, citing that Liberia only performed best by scoring ‘A’ in debt payment, but scored ‘D’ in other pillars, which is very poor.
Commenting on the way forward, Mr. Weah said they are considering the different justifications for these scores in order to know the next course of engagement.
He said plans are underway to find focal persons or focal entities that will be responsible to follow up recommendations derived to policymakers and hoped policymakers would see their recommendations and adhere to them. Editing by Jonathan Browne