U. S. Cites Weah-Led Gov’t For Failing The Minimum Requirement Of The State Department 2021 Fiscal Transparency Report

U.S. Ambassador to Liberia and President Weah

 Washington DC – June 25, 2021: The Weah Administration has been cited for failing the minimum requirement of the U.S. State Department 2021 Fiscal Transparency Report.

According to the report released Friday, June 25, 2021 in Washington DC by the Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs of the State Department, “Fiscal transparency informs citizens how government revenues and tax revenues are spent and is a critical element of effective public financial management. Transparency provides citizens a window into government budgets and helps hold governments accountable. It helps build market confidence and sustainability. The Congressionally mandated Fiscal Transparency Report (FTR) is a tool to identify deficiencies and support needed changes.”

US Department of State

Liberia is among 67 other countries that did not meet the minimum requirement, especially for countries that receive U.S. Foreign Assistance. “For countries to meet minimum requirements, governments must make key budget documents publicly available within a reasonable period of time. They must be substantially complete and generally reliable. Governments must also follow a transparent process for awarding government contracts for natural resource extraction,” the State Department benchmark requirements noted.

As it relates to Liberia’s failing mark, the U.S. Government’s assessment  noted that, “During the review period, the government did not make its budget documents, including the executive budget proposal, enacted budget, and end of year report, publicly available in a reasonable period of time.  Information on debt obligations, with the exception of state-owned enterprise debt, was widely and easily accessible to the general public, including online.  Foreign assistance receipts, largely project-based, were neither adequately captured in the budget nor subject to the same audit and domestic oversight as other budget items.  Significant deviations between projected and actual revenues during the review period undercut the reliability of budget information.  The supreme audit institution did not meet international standards of independence and did not make its audit reports publicly available within a reasonable period of time.  The criteria and procedures for awarding natural resource extraction licenses and contracts were outlined in law, although there have been reports of corruption and inconsistent application of regulations in practice.  Basic information on some, but not all, natural resource extraction awards was publicly available. Liberia’s fiscal transparency would be improved by:

1. Making budget documents publicly available within a reasonable period of time;

2. Making state-owned enterprise debt publicly available;

Ensuring the budget is substantially complete and off-budget accounts are subject to adequate audit and oversight;

Producing and publishing a supplemental budget when actual revenues and expenditures do not correspond to those in the enacted budget;

3. Ensuring the supreme audit institution meets international standards of independence;

4. Making supreme audit institution audit reports publicly available within a reasonable period of time;

5. ensuring the criteria and procedures used to award natural resource extraction contracts and licenses are consistent with the requirements set by law or regulation; and

6. making basic information on natural resource extraction awards publicly available.”

Liberia’s economic profile continues to deteriorate due to lack of trained human and technical capacity and processes in favor of cronyism, lack of political will and a plethora of high profile financial scandals which the Weah Administration continues to dismiss or address.

A USD $25 Million Finance Ministry and National Bank led “mop-up exercise” of damaged bank notes, inadequate accounting of and “missing”  $LD 16 Billion economic infusion scheme and another USD $25 Million “COVID-19 pandemic “Economic Stimulus” plan have all gone missing without explanation. Expenditures at Liberia’s National Legislature remains unaudited and prior audit reports of Government agencies have been shelved indefinitely.

Civil servants continue to experience chronic salary delays even after a Government “harmonization program” in 2019 which abolished the basic and general allowance salary structures of the previous years, giving all government workers one pay. This policy saw a reduction in the salary of most Government workers while members of the National Legislature opposed any fiscal measure to reduce their salaries.

In 2015, Liberian made “significant progress” in Fiscal Transparency assessments but has failed every year since, according to State Department data seen by African Star.

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