Liberia Enhancing Budget Process for Improved Governance

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Liberia: Enhancing Budget Process for Improved Governance
June 2006 Leadership Seminar

Objectives
The World Bank Institute and UNDP co-sponsored a seminar on "Enhancing the
Budgetary Process for Improved Governance in Liberia", in Monrovia in June 2006. The
overarching objective of the seminar was to provide participants with technical and
process skills - through collective problem solving and practically oriented knowledge
and information sharing techniques - that would facilitate decision making and
deliberation with regard to the budget process.

The seminar also aimed at: (i) engaging participants in dialogue and discussion around
the budget process (formulation, enactment, execution and evaluation), highlighting
incentives for cooperation and risks; (ii) exposing participants to substantive issues,
activities, opportunities, and challenges of the budget process; (iii) enhancing the spirit
and principles of cooperation among actors involved in the budget process; (iv) providing
a platform for participants and resource persons – Liberian and international - to share
experiences and information in a constructive manner, building on lessons learned and
peer experiences.

Participants
The participants included legislators and staff from the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry
of Planning and Economic Affairs, the Bureau of the Budget, the Civil Service Agency,
and the General Auditing Office. The Deputy Minister of Finance presented the keynote
address, while the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the President Pro-
Tempure of the Senate delivered opening remarks. The Minister of Finance also attended
parts of the seminar.

Programme
The Leadership Seminar was held on June 7 at Monrovia City Hall and on June 9 and 10
at Cece Beach, Virginia, Liberia. The first day was focused on the fundamental issues
concerning the importance of the Budget, the vision that underpins the development of
poverty-reduction and accountability aspects of the Budget process. The second day
focused on the process of Budget Formulation, with emphasis on the roles and
responsibilities of each branch of government in this process. The last day focused on the
Enactment of the Budget, as well as accountability and oversight mechanisms, which are
the primary domain of the Legislature. The emphasis was put on building consensus and
effective working relations between various actors, especially the Legislature, Executive
and Civil Society.

Four international peers – Hon. Yaw Osafo-Maafo, Former Minister of Finance in Ghana,
Margaret Olaore Olowu, Director of the Office of Budget Implementation in Nigeria, Dr.
Eric Abiassi, International Legislative Consultant from Benin, Hon. Gavin Woods,
Member of Parliament in South Africa – were keynote speakers at the seminar.
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Outcome
The seminar responded to the articulated objectives for the activity: (i) improving
understanding among work-shop participants of the Liberian budget process – both in
theory and in practice - particularly as pertaining to the process, standards and
requirements for the budget formulation and enactment; (ii) improving understanding of
and appreciation for the roles and responsibilities – as well as synergies - of the different
actors involved in the Liberian budget process; an (iii) creating an appreciation of the
benefits of peer-to-peer mechanisms for learning and exchange of knowledge and
information. Further, the seminar led to improved communication between members of
the Legislature and the Executive, a trend that will hopefully be reinforced and lead to
more long term benefits.

The activity was very well received by participants - both from the legislative and the
executive branch, and participants agreed it would be useful to continue this exercise,
both to strengthen understanding of best practices and techniques that may be adopted
and used in the Budget process, and to create a platform for engagement of various
stakeholders to make budget formulation and execution more participatory and
responsive to the needs and priorities of the various stakeholders.