CSO Lauds 55th Legislature for Inclusion into Budget Hearings

Apr 25, 2024 - 22:59
Apr 25, 2024 - 22:59
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CSO Lauds 55th Legislature for Inclusion into Budget Hearings

By: Blamo N. Toe/Contributor 

The Executive Director of Integrity Watch Liberia, Harold Aidoo has termed it as a monumental feat for the first time for CSOs to not be just mere observers but to have fully participated in the joint budget hearings at the national legislature.

The Joint Committee on Ways, Means, Finance and Budget of the House of Representatives and the Liberian Senate has been conducting budget hearings with government’s spending entities ahead of the passage of the Draft National Budget for fiscal year 2024.

Speaking with legislative reporters on the grounds of the Capitol Building Tuesday, April 23, 2024 in Monrovia, Mr. Aidoo said during the hearings, civil society organizations, including Integrity Watch Liberia had the opportunity to raise key concerns for the responses of these different spending institutions.

“In our opinions, we are happy that we can facilitate these kinds of engagements between civil society, citizens and their legislators because the budget needs to have a mechanism where the citizens can participate in the budget process and we think that are an important first step to have civil society organizations participating in the budget process,” he said.

According to him, this initiative will strengthen the engagement and the oversight of the legislators, adding that it will also help those CSOs to follow-up and ensure that the actual amount allocated for each spending entity is properly expended transparently.

Our legislative reporter said during the budget hearing conducted by the Joint Committee, civil society actors were given the opportunity to exclusively question heads and representations of government ministries, agencies and commissions and answers were provided by those public officials.

Mr. Aidoo stressed the need for CSOs to not only form part of the budget hearings but also fully participate in the revenue of the budget process by those institutions.

“The current fiscal space of the current budget is very small and we believe that by having civil society organizations to participate in the budget process, one, will bring the perspectives of the issues at the community level to inform this budget discussion,” he indicated.

Speaking about his observation during the budget hearing, the Integrity Watch Liberia boss said the 2024 draft national budget has a tight space to address all of the major priorities of the various institutions, stressing the need to collectively work and expand the fiscal space for national growth and development.

“We need to make sure that we all optimize domestic resource mobilization, which is one of the key issues that we have been pointing to. Lo, no matter what kind of development plan or program any government would come up with; in the absence of resources, it would just be business as usual,” Harold Aidoo said.

At the same time, while commending the 55th National Legislature for encouraging a participatory budget process with the CSOs, Mr. Aidoo disclosed that his institution is expected to submit a “Budget Option Paper” before or during the 2025 Draft National Budget process.

He said the paper will clearly articulate key areas where the national government can prioritize, noting that the initiative will also be in line with the government’s own development plan.

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