An Open Letter to the Budget Bureau of the Republic of Liberia

From J. Kerkula Foeday

The Perspective
Atlanta, Georgia
August 27, 2007


I am writing to point out a discrepancy discovered in a referral made by the Budget Director of Liberia and at the same time call on the Budget Bureau not only to correct the discrepancy, but also to ensure that the 2007/2008 budget is published on the Ministry of Finance website, the Executive Mansion website, or the Budget Bureau website (if it exists) for the consumption of Liberians. You may recall that on January 10, 2007, The Perspective carried an article from the Budget Director of Liberia. The director’s article was a rejoinder to FrontPage Africa report that assessed and graded year one of the Ellen Government performance. This is how the report in question assessed and graded the performance of the Budget Director:

“… For starters, [the Ellen Budget Director] adopted Charles Taylor’s budget
as his own and has been unable to explain the budget. In a 2004 article
written on the Perspective, Sirleaf chastised Chairman Bryant for adopting
Taylor’sbudget. Sadly, her own budget man … did exactly that.
Contradiction galore.

The Bottom Line: [the Budget Director}has not been able to articulate the budget;
he delayed budget preparation and summation by two months into the
fiscal year – a really big blunder. Budget Director assumed Charles Taylor
budget as a baseline, and the tagged on percentage increases here and
there. The budget was never made public, as it is best international standard.
A few newspapers received a hard copy of the budget, with no significant
assumptions rendering it useless for public consumption. Inexperience has
been visible here.”

Contingent on this assessment, FrontPage Africa gave the Budget Director a “D” grade, which, obviously, was an indication of under-performance on the part of the Budget Director.

Greatly moved by this report, the Budget Director responded to FrontPage Africa in an article captioned Critiquing the Critic – A Rejoinder to FrontPageAfrica’s Grading of the Perfomance of the Budget Director. He outrightly dismissed FrontPage Africa assessment as false. “What is very interesting about your assessment is that in just two paragraphs, you have succeeded in injecting a host of falsehoods …”, he said. As the Budget Director claimed, one of the “falsehoods” has to do with the publicization of the 2006/2007 Budget. FrontPage Africa had reported that the budget was never made public. In reacting to this, the Budget Director argued that this was untrue. In fact, he described this report as a factual crime of gargantuan proportion. He further explained and maintained that the budget was made public. He even went as far as saying that the budget was on sale for US$10.00 per copy. More interestingly, he said the budget was published on the Ministry of Finance website and he then referred his audience to check the fact if anyone had doubts.

On receiving this information from the Budget Director, I immediately surfed the web in an attempt to access the Ministry of Finance website. Initially, I encountered some difficulties, but after a while, I finally accessed the Ministry website. Contrary to the Director’s claim, I did not find the 2006/2007 budget on the website. The next time I attempted, I couldn’t access the site because it was being updated. When I recently visited the site, I discovered that the Ministry has a link to only one budget, which is the 107-page 2005/2006 Budget of the Bryant Transitional Government. This left me wondering as to why only the Transitional Government Budget, and not the two budgets (2006/2007 & 2007/2008) of the Ellen Government. I am wondering whether there are consciously-motivated, tactical political reasons for leaving out the two budgets. I, like other information-thirsty Liberians and non-Liberians, am interested in having copies of the budgets.

It is precisely against this background that I opted to write this open letter to the Budget Bureau so that the Bureau can do all it can to have the two budgets (2006/2007 & 2007/2008) published for the consumption of every Liberian. This is necessary because it is not just a constitutional obligation, but it promotes transparency and accountability, which are two critical requirements of good governance.

I am therefore making a clarion call on the Director of the Budget Bureau to personally ensure that the 2006/2007 Budget as well as the recently approved National Budget of the Republic of Liberia is posted on both the Executive Mansion and the Ministry of Finance websites as soon as possible. This is a call to national duty, Mr. Director.

Sincerely yours,

J. Kerkula Foeday
University of Iowa
Iowa City, Iowa, USA

© 2007 by The Perspective

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