On behalf of the Global Initiative for Fiscal Transparency and the International Budget Partnership, we recognize the effort that Liberia has made to promote budget transparency. Although this work has sometimes not yielded the expected results and inevitably challenges remain, we know that your leadership has always strongly advanced the disclosure of information on the use of public resources and the expansion of the possibilities for public participation in the budget process. In the 2019 edition of IBP’s Open Budget Survey, Liberia had a 6% increase compared to the 2017 results (link).
The Ministry of Finance and Development Planning has collaborated as much as possible to share its own experience and to benefit from the peer-to-peer technical collaboration the GIFT network offers. Both GIFT and IBP (lead steward and a founding member of the network) work to support, from complementary perspectives and trenches, improvements in open budgeting practices in Liberia. In 2019, Liberia was selected to be part of the Fiscal Openness Accelerator, a project to pilot public participation mechanisms in the budget process and further improve in budget transparency. But now, we would like to take some additional steps, small but with significant impact.
First, given the catastrophic pandemic and its profound implications in all areas, including public finances and fiscal systems, we would like to help Liberia in facing this crisis with the greatest possible fiscal transparency. As part of its global mandate and collaborative approach, the GIFT network has developed a guide (link) to support its members in responding to the fiscal challenges of COVID19 with timely and accessible information that helps identify governmental datasets and data fields required for informed decision-making processes and meaningful fiscal transparency, with a user-centered and purpose-oriented approach.
Two, we would like to discuss with you, or your high-level representative, the concrete, possible and simple steps the Ministry could take to substantially improve budget transparency and public participation that are in line with the OBS 2019 results for Liberia as well as the targets set in IBP’s call to action on open budgets.
These are times of profound, painful, uncertain transformations, unlike anything we have ever experienced before. At the same time, there are incredible opportunities we must definitely seize, such as digital tools that can be used to bring the governed closer to their authorities; and new social contracts that favor more inclusive, equitable, and environmentally friendly development models. In any scenario that includes a promising outcome, trust in government authorities, transparency in the use of public resources, and informed participation are central and indispensable elements.
Vivek Ramkumar Juan Pablo Guerrero
Policy Director Network Director de la RED GIFT