BudgIT Liberia engages citizens in Margibi County and Grand Bassa County on the Government’s “ARREST” Agenda

In a bid to enhance transparency and accountability in Liberia, BudgIT Liberia engaged residents of Margibi and Grand Bassa counties in understanding and shaping the fiscal year 2024 budget allocation through the Government’s “ARREST” agenda.

BudgIT Liberia, a civic organization that leverages technology to foster citizen engagement and institutional improvement, believes that an informed populace is crucial for effective governance. Supported by the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), its recent initiative aimed to demystify the budgetary process and empower citizens to influence resource allocation in alignment with their needs.

The two-day event, held on February 22 and 23, 2024, brought together stakeholders from diverse backgrounds under the theme, “Citizens Engagement on the Government of Liberia’s ARREST Agenda to Guide the 2024 National Budget Allocation.” Participants received firsthand insights into budget processes, legal frameworks guiding public finance management, and the significance of President Joseph Nyuma Boakai’s ARREST Agenda, encompassing Agriculture, Roads, Rule of Law, Education, Sanitation, and Tourism.

Abraham Varney, BudgIT Liberia’s Country Lead emphasized the importance of citizen participation in budget formulation. He highlighted the disconnect between government allocations and citizen needs and urged a collaborative approach to crafting the national budget.

Varney outlined BudgIT’s commitment to building citizen capacity through initiatives like the Budget Access Initiative. “We want citizens to have their voices heard in decision-making, and the budget should reflect their needs.” Expressing concerns over citizens’ limited awareness of budgetary matters in Liberia, Varney says it cripples the principles of democracy and impedes economic development. 

Thomas Davis, Acting Superintendent of Grand Bassa County, echoed the importance of implementing the Government’s “ARREST” agenda. He emphasized that it can improve living standards and propel Liberia towards becoming a developed African nation.

Emmanuel J Kollie, BudgIT Liberia’s program officer, highlighted the significance of the upcoming 2024 national budget in gauging the Government’s commitment to the “ARREST” agenda. He emphasized the budget’s role in shaping livelihood improvements for Liberians. He encouraged citizens to demand increased allocations to these sectors and the locations of the intended projects for project tracking and monitoring purposes. 

At the conclusion of the meetings, participants underscored the need for timely implementation of government initiatives and the importance of enforcing laws to facilitate development, particularly in rural areas.

Citizens applauded BudgIT Liberia for enlightening them on budgetary processes and advocating for increased transparency. Marjuir Eddie added, “This is an eye-opener. Previously, we had no idea how the government created the budget or that they should interact with us to understand our community’s needs before creating it.” 

Barley Togba, Grand Bassa’s former Development Superintendent and Head of the Civil Society Council, also emphasized the importance of implementing the Law and Government Act and urgently passing the 2024 budget. “Without these public financial instruments in place, how do we drive economic development in this country? It is critical as it allows local country structures to mobilize resources under the revenue-sharing agreement. ” 

Civil society organizations, law enforcement agencies, women’s groups, and youth organizations all expressed their support for the engagements. Participants’ ideas, including increased allocations for vital sectors such as agriculture and education, demonstrate a shared goal for a more equitable and effective budgeting structure.

BudgIT empowers citizens to actively participate in shaping Liberia’s developmental trajectory. Fostering transparency and accountability lays the groundwork for a more prosperous and equitable future for all Liberians.

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