Special Statement issued by Madam Loretta Alethea Pope Kai -Executive Director, FCI at the launch of the CSO Budget Platform.

Special Statement issued by Madam Loretta Alethea Pope Kai -Executive Director, FCI at the launch of the CSO Budget Platform.
Distinguish Ladies and Gentlemen with all existing protocols observed, permit me to first extend our (Integrity Watch Liberia (IW-L) and Foundation for Community Initiatives (FCI)) sincere thanks to you all for turning out this morning at the launch of this CSO Budget Platform. We are particular gratified by the presence of cross section of state and non-state actors for this launch.
The Foundation for Community Initiatives (FCI), for which I serve as Executive Director, is honored to partner with Integrity Watch – Liberia on this project. We are also grateful to our back donors the British and UN Women for the support.
The annual national budget of a government is a public proclamation of its projected and actual expenditures. It provides vital evidence of where the government sets its priorities – whether on the poor and marginalized people or not. Also it is the goal of the government to enhance the quality of its citizens’ lives through planning, designing and implementing appropriate development programmes and this is done through the budgeting process – preparation, execution and evaluation.
If the aforementioned are true, then it needs no telling that citizens’ participation in the national budgeting process is of the utmost importance so as to have their aspirations adequately capture in the national budget of the country.
Liberia’s performance in successive Open Budget Survey recently has been declining gradually, the current budget process reveals that citizens have limited or no understanding of what the state is committing itself to in its policy declaration and also the extreme complicated and technical nature of the budget-making process and documents does not allow citizens to participate, have any say or monitor the process. Even the mechanism to evaluate budget performance is next to non-existence.
Participation is important as a means of improving the performance and accountability of bureaucracies and improving social justice. Basically there are two criteria for participation: it should be broadly representative of the population and should involve meaningful discourse that affects public decision-making.
Against this backdrop IW-L and FCI is today launching the CSO Budget Platform to advocate for greater citizens’ participation in the budgeting process and emphasize the need to mainstream Gender Responsive Budgeting in the National Budget.Citizens’ participation in setting the priorities of the budget and monitoring the execution of the public budget by civil society would enable the citizens to hold the government accountable.
Finally, let me emphasize that citizen participation can make local service delivery more effective. Government attitudes and the role of civil society are both key in improving budget participation. Donors should therefore support civil society and should seek better understanding of government perceptions in order to reduce the costs and increase the benefits of implementing participatory processes.
To our media colleagues, you too have an important role in this process. The media can assist civil society in publicizing budget analyses, report cards, survey results and following up issues raised on the budget process.It is our hope that this CSO Budget platform will help in opening up the space around the national budgeting process in Liberia. I thank you