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Friday, June 14, 2024

DEPUTY FINANCE MINISTER HIGHLIGHTS FISCAL DECENTRALIZATION AS KEY TO NATIONAL POLICY IMPLEMENTATION

Date:

MONROVIA – Deputy Finance Minister for Fiscal Affairs, Anthony Myers, has emphasized the critical role of fiscal decentralization in advancing the National Policy on Decentralization and Local Governance. Speaking at a recent three-day training session on Public Financial Management (PFM) in Buchanan City, Grand Bassa County, Myers highlighted the necessity of accelerating fiscal decentralization to enhance local governance.

“We will make progress on the National Policy on Decentralization and Local Governance as quickly, as successfully, and as efficiently as the pace at which we proceed with fiscal decentralization,” he stated.

According to a press release from the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning (MFDP) Communications Unit, Myers noted that despite the challenges and potential risks, Liberia cannot afford further delays in decentralization. He stressed the importance of ongoing revenue mobilization efforts aimed at increasing the annual budget to one billion US dollars, arguing that the current centralized bureaucracy is insufficient for efficient and effective spending of such an amount.

“This is because the specific development challenges and constraints of the villages and hamlets, towns and townships, districts and counties, and cities and conurbations are best known by the inhabitants and their local leaderships,” Myers asserted.

The training session, themed “Fiscal Decentralization Reform for Sustainable Development,” aimed to educate local government officials on the PFM Revenue Sharing Law and Local Government Act. The Local Government Act of 2018 mandates that local financial management adhere to the Public Financial Management Act of 2009. It also requires local governments to make financial reports as specified by the Minister of Finance and to have their finances audited according to national laws and regulations on audits.

The Act establishes a revenue-sharing framework that will be implemented over a ten-year period starting from September 2018. Counties, cities, townships, and boroughs will have four sources of revenue: own-source revenues, central government transfers, social development funds, and grants from external sources, including development partners.

Myers expressed optimism that local administrations across the country could benefit from short-term liquidity management agreements with the Central Bank of Liberia to address temporary cash flow gaps. These agreements are intended to ensure accountability and transparency in local financial management.

Ministry of Internal Affairs Deputy Minister for Operations, Hon. Selena Mappy, underscored the importance of fiscal decentralization and financial management for the full implementation of the Local Government Act. She advocated for the central government to allow local officials to sign procurement plans at the county level, thereby facilitating more efficient governance.

Mappy thanked the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning for organizing the training, which was attended by superintendents, county administrative officers, county finance officers from all fifteen counties, as well as representatives from the Governance Commission and the Ministry of Internal Affairs.

This training session marks a significant step towards empowering local authorities and ensuring the effective implementation of fiscal decentralization and financial management reforms across Liberia.

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