Liberia Enhancing Budget Process for Improved Governance
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WBICD Leadership Website 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. WBICD Leadership Website 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.