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State-Owned Enterprises and the Budget

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State-Owned Enterprises (SOEs) in Liberia such as the National Port Authority, the Liberia Civil Aviation Authority, and others contribute to the national budget but their actual revenues are not captured in the national cake, thus leaving room for excesses.

For instance, it is said that the NPA contributes significantly to the national budget, which is good, but at the same time the entity unilaterally executes various social responsibility projects outside of scrutiny, using public funds.

This has been the case with the current NPA administration headed by Mr. Bill Tweahway. M.D. Tweahway has been executing several projects in his native Rivercess County, as part of social responsibility without the public having a clear understanding of how much funds were used from the NPA revenue.

It is along these lines that the United States Ambassador to Liberia Michael McCarthy expressed concern recently about whether SOEs that collect public revenues should be allowed to use some of those incomes at their discretion to undertake projects.

Ambassador McCarthy specifically noted that having consulted with the Liberia Revenue Authority, the Auditor General’s Office, the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission, coupled with multiple sources in the Liberian Legislature, there seems to be a consensus that continuing to process State-Owned Enterprises’ revenues outside the national budget, as with the case of the NPA, is against best practice.

The U.S. Envoy then welcomed pronouncement by the President Pro-Tempore of the Liberia Senate Albert Chie to conduct a hearing on Cargo Tracking Note (CTN) charges and other fees collected by the Management of the NPA.

He stressed that such funds, collected by a government-owned entity, are public property which would under most circumstances, be appropriated by the Legislature along with other state revenues.

But this is not happening. Instead, SOEs that strictly operate under the Executive, collect and expend revenues at will, contributing whatever they prefer to the national budget without proper accountability.

We believe such policy should be reversed in the interest of accountability and transparency because revenues generated by those entities are for the State and should be captured in the national budget in totality.

Leaving those revenues at the discretion of SOEs creates an avenue for funds to be mismanaged and siphoned at the detriment of the general citizenry, which clearly does not demonstrate good governance, transparency, and accountability.

NewDawn

The New Dawn is Liberia’s Truly Independent Newspaper Published by the Searchlight Communications Inc. Office is located on The UN Drive in Monrovia Liberia. The New Dawn is a bilingual (both English & French).

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