Mrs. Sirleaf Calls for Public Hearing On Budget



The Inquirer
Monrovia, Liberia

Distributed by

The Perspective
Atlanta, Georgia

September 2, 2004

The need for the Liberian populace to demand for an open hearing on the US$80.million dollars budget presently before the National Transnational Legislative Assembly (NTLA) has been stressed.

Speaking yesterday at the Monrovia City Hall during the kick-off of a series of public interactive forum (PIF) organized by the Governance Reform Commission (GRC), Mrs. Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf admonished Liberians to press forward for an open hearing on the national budget for the sake of transparency and accountability.

“We want to see transparency and accountability in the NTGL’s operation, we want the people to demand for an open hearing on the budget. In the budget, there is US$1million for Agriculture, the mainstream of life, while US$2.5 million is there for Special Security Services. The budget is outside!

“There is US$10 million in the budget for government’s Domestic Debts, we want to know if these debts are genuine. The government entered into a contract with a Chinese firm for the sale of a stockpile of iron ore at the port of Buchanan, we want to see the contract published. We want to know if the money from the sale of the iron ore is reflected in the budget. What the essence of buying a lot of cars from one man, that you do not have roads for. We should be putting people to work by using the money to first repair our roads. Government’s priority is upside down!”

Mrs. Sirleaf’s assertion that the lack of public knowledge on government operation, mainly financial, is the bedrock of corruption in society was widely applauded by the audience mainly IDPs, students, market women, teachers, lawyers and other professionals who participated in the deliberation.

“We are calling on you to join this commission in demanding that government be more transparent and accountable. The commission is going to draw up a code of conduct for people who are in the employ of government, we are working on plans for the decentralization of government’s activities. Corruption is rampant and we must fight to eliminate it in our society ”, Madam Sirleaf stressed.

Yesterday’s deliberation, which was on “Corruption”, was characterized by frank exchange of views between the Commissioners of the Governance Reform Commission and the public with the latter mandating the commission to draw up punitive measures for individuals who may be found guilty of corruption in public offices.

Various speakers at the Public Interactive Forum said, among other things, that corruption has become a disease that is eating every fabric of the Liberian society, and as such, it should be eradicated in the society. Some suggested that if corruption is to be abolished in society, the issues of civil servants’ salary, appointment of unqualified individuals in government, the culture of impunity and other vices that are permeating in government circles must be addressed adequately and the Good Governance Reform Commission put in place policy that will protect public funds from going into private accounts.

The objectives of the Public Interactive Forum is to enhance the involvement of the people of Liberia in determining the content, direction and focus of the process and its outcome with the view of building the necessary national constituency behind reform measures. The forum is to be conducted in all parts of the 15 sub- political divisions of the country, according to the Governance Reform Commission.

© 2004: This article is copyrighted by The Inquirer newspaper (Monrovia, Liberia) and distributed by The Perspective (Atlanta, Georgia). All rights reserved.