How governments choose to spend their taxpayers money is a sensitive issue in most countries, and Liberia is no different.
© UN-HABITAT/John hogan
Years of conflict has meant that there has been little to no effective government outside of Monrovia. Civil servants were hard to come-by meaning that essential services like registering the sale of land and housing was largely an informal affair But things are changing, and for the better. The United Nations in Liberia, through the County Support Team Joint Programme- (UNCST-JP) has concluded a three day Regional Training of Trainers (TOT) workshop in Local Government Financial Management.
The TOT was held in Gbarnga from 22nd-24th February, 2011, targeting 20 local government officials comprising Development Superintendent, Project Planners,
Budget/Finance and Procurement officers from Bong, Nimba and Lofa Counties. The lead facilitator was Ministry of Finance supported by UN-HABITAT who is currently implementing a range of leadership, local economic development and finance training programme for County government in Liberia. The objectives of the workshop were to strengthen financial management capacity of local authorities as well as to develop a critical mass of Trainers/Facilitators, to roll-out effective financial management practices and systems, in collaboration with Liberia Decentralisation and Local Development (LDLD), and the Direct Execution to National Execution Programmes at the local level.
Using UN-HABITAT’s Financial Management for Local Government Series, the two and a half days’ workshop focused on the principles of creating an effective financial framework and managing the operational budget, capital investments and performance management, financial policy making, Financial Planning and citizen participation.
© UN-HABITAT/John hogan
Participants had the opportunity to share experiences from their various counties, discuss operational challenges, identify as well as draw action plans to complement efforts at establishing structures and systems that stimulate effective local governance financial management. Using the proven and cost effective training of trainers’ methodology, Country Support Team will be providing capacity building on core financial management competencies in support of the implementation of the Couty Development Agenda across all 15 counties.
Representing the Acting Superintendent of Bong County, the Project Planner Mr. Nathaniel M. Queilipue, Sr. stressed the need for a robust engagement of county authorities in local financial management. He advised participants to take advantage of the training for knowledge acquisition, serve as change agents in their counties and be better placed to roll out similar trainings in future.
The lead facilitator and a Director for Ministry of Finance Mr. Samuel S. Korviliadvised participants to exercise due diligence, responsibility, and transparency whilst ensuring that budget executions are always in line with the law and available funds. He pointed out that a new Public Financial Management Act was in place and ready for distribution to the counties. To address some of the challenges faced in budget execution in the counties, Mr. Korvili encouraged participants to be proactive and called for finance officials to engage in the development of their Counties. “You need to be informed and giving them advice and guidance to your local authorities and political leaders both in the counties and within the Ministry of Internal Affairs”, he observed.
On behalf of the UN Mission in Liberia (UNMIL), the Head of Field Office for Bong County Mr. Karimy Yorose noted, “The decentralization of local government services has just begun in Liberia. It is critically important therefore that Civil Servants are equipped to form the core of public service with the necessary tools and skills for effective service delivery”. He commended the UN and partners for the continuous support to strengthen capacities of local administrations and advised that local authorities ensure the right administrative structures and systems are in place.