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Wednesday, October 4, 2023

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Liberia’s Health Ministry, Others Fail To Provide Reports of Achievement For FY2022 -Says Integrity Watch

Sixteen out of sixty-two government institutions have been accused of breaching the country’s public financial management law with regards to the budget performance report for Fiscal Year (FY) 2022.

The accusation, contained in a report by Integrity Watch Liberia (IWL), one of Liberia’s leading civil society organizations, claimed that the Ministry of Health and numerous other government entities spend public money without submitting a budget report in FY 2022.

According to the report, six sectors of the fiscal year 2023 national budget and monitoring outcome of the implementation of the fiscal 2022 national budget did not submit budget performance reports.

“Our findings reveal that 16 out of the 62 institutions comprising the six (6) sectors did not provide reports of achievements under the FY2022 and planned objectives for FY2023,” Integrity Watch Liberia Executive Director, Harold Aidoo said.

“The total aggregate budget estimates of all those institutions without achievements for fiscal year 2022 and planned objectives for fiscal year 2023 projected at US$156.7 million, representing 45.2% of the combined total of the six sectors budget of US$346.8 million.

Integrity Watch Liberia Executive Director, Harold Aidoo

“We believe that by placing US$156.7 million at the disposal of these institutions without past performance reports and planned objectives undermine accountability and transparency,” he maintained.

Reporting on budget performance is a requirement enshrined in the Public Financial Management Act, which calls on all spending entities to provide a monthly quarterly budget performance report to the Minister.

However, Integrity Watch in its report claimed that none of the 62 institutions under the health, education, security and rule of law, social development services, transparency and accountability, and agriculture sectors submitted budget performance reports for the fiscal year’s national budget — which is in violation of the law

The situation, considering the concept of “value for money and affordability” as one of the principles of the PFM law, pose huge risks to prudent fiscal management and undermine the government’s efforts in fiscal transparency and accountability, the report finds.

“In view of the foregoing, for the next fiscal year budget (FY2023), the Standing Committees on Appropriation at the Legislature should compel all non-compliant institutions in respect of the PFM to provide budget performance notes, “ Aidoo noted.

“Lawmakers need to enshrine legislative provisions (prohibitions and sanctions) relating to the omission of a complete budget performance report. Prescribe sanctions for non-compliance affecting all spending entities, including the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning for any failure of enforcement of the law.”

Meanwhile, Integrity Watch Liberia is recommending that the government in response to the recommendations from citizens at the pre-budget consultations be included in the budget preface, in addition to the budget fact sheet.

“This would fulfill the principles of comprehensiveness as contained in the Amendment and Restatement of the PFM Act of 2009,” Aidoo noted.

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