The legislature of Liberia held historic public hearings in July to review the nation’s 2008-2009 budget. It was the first time that lawmakers had the opportunity to question government ministers about past appropriations and planned expenditures for the coming year before amending and passing the legislation. The event was open to the public and broadcast nationally on radio and television, which was also a first.
NDI assisted members of a joint committee from the Liberian House of Representatives and Senate to organize the hearings by providing guidance on the budget oversight process and assisting with logistics.
As Liberia emerges from a devastating civil war, elected officials are working to improve government accountability and transparency. Lawmakers believe that opening the budget to public scrutiny will help to ensure that government spending reflects citizens’ needs and priorities.
“Things are changing, although more changes are needed,” said Liberia’s Democrat Newspaper. “Years back, few had interest in the national budget. The story is now different.”
Lawmakers and executive branch officials agreed that the oversight hearings resulted in a more transparent budget process. Acting Minister of Finance Tarnue Marwolo said, “The form of government is republican with three separate coordinate branches: the legislative, the executive, and the judiciary. Consistent with the principles of separation of powers and checks and balances, this public hearing, in which ministers are being called to account for past budgetary allocations and to defend their new proposals, is a welcome development and signifies that Liberia’s democracy is on the right path.”
Pictured above: Minister of Public Works Loseni Donzo, Minister of Education Joseph Kortoe and Minister of Health Moses Gwenigale are sworn in to testify in front of a joint committee from the Liberian House of Representatives and Senate on appropriations legislation being considered by lawmakers.
Published on Aug. 4, 2008