Stop Spending Wastefully EU Informs GOL

The darkest spot of the government’s uncontrollable spending sprees amidst its persistent and consistent wailing and begging other nations and financial institutions, while professing of being totally cash-strapped, yet its privileged elites are in big time business of buying and erecting gigantic structures; thereby leaving observers to wonder just where all the money is coming from.

With the government’s shameful posture appearing to be barely surviving as though it is on welfare with hat in hand and waving it to western countries to chip in and save the souls of a nation and citizens, most of the partners of Liberia that continue to bill it out and provide some most needed assistance to somehow keep the latter afloat, are jittery and getting very nervously confused,  while some finance experts raised their eyebrows about how the privileged few are milking the already bleeding coffers.

A government that does not abide by the rules embedded in fiscal discipline, spent much more than what it gets from waving the hat, severely opposed to the principle of transparency and accountability and uses the Finance Ministry and the Central Bank of Liberia (CBL) as petit cash boxes while swimming in the pool of constructions, some foreign partners are rethinking the manner and form in which they spent their countries taxpayers’ money in Liberia on projects they have earmarked on.

Although such wide angle spending wastefully continues to drain the developmental outlook of the country with everything of that nation is personally owned by the privileged few, the oxen continued to starve while the grass is much greener right across the fence; and as the willing partners are set to see this country scores some high marks in its growth and development trend, are now beginning to consulting the drawing board to x-ray previous fashion of entrusting fund with implementers of their operations through the evaluation exercise.

One of such partners that has been with the country, government and people in difficult times and ensuring that the partnership grows meaningfully, and progressively turns things around positively for the betterment of the country and people, is the European Union (EU) that has already advanced it seven-point (underscoring three as the most important recommendations from the evaluations flowing from the seven) recommendations of evaluation on its operations here and other countries.

The three most important recommendations flowing from this evaluation are listed below:

R1: Link resource commitments to operational resources The European Commission needs to strengthen the operational and procedural linkages between the commitments of development resources on the one hand and the allocation of operational capacities and resources to its own country offices on the other hand.

The EC experience in Liberia illustrated that currently no procedures are in place to prevent even dramatic imbalances between committed development funds and the available operational capacity at country level to spend these resources.

This disconnect extended also to the programme level. For this reason, the European Commission needs to amend its own framework and standard format for drafting its country strategies to require that they also take into account the EC’ s own operational capacity in partner countries. Project documents also need to more clearly analyze and outline the tasks and responsibilities expected from the Commission’s own staff and need to ascertain the actual availability of staff to do the work.

This disconnect extended also to the programme level. For this reason, the European Commission needs to amend its own framework and standard format for drafting its country strategies to require that they also take into account the EC’ s own operational capacity in partner countries. Project documents also need to more clearly analyze and outline the tasks and responsibilities expected from the Commission’s own staff and need to ascertain the actual availability of staff to do the work.

R3: Refocus support on most vulnerable and marginalized Liberians Finally, the European Commission needs to refocus its efforts to channel assistance to the most severely marginalized groups of the Liberian population. The goal has to be, as before, to help reduce the socio-economic disadvantage of these population groups. In many ways, the EC’s portfolio between 1999 and 2008 had been made up of programmes that were designed to channel assistance to the most socio-economically marginalized Liberians.

However, because of the many shortcomings of EC assistance, support has reached only a much smaller share and a different segment of Liberia’s population than had originally been intended. In education, the EC will need to assess how any initial achievements of its current programme can be consolidated through follow-up support. The European Commission also needs to continue and possibly broaden its investment in Liberia network of rural feeder roads, considering the immense importance of improved transport infrastructure for the economic opportunities of most Liberians.

The EC will also need to strengthen its engagement in the agricultural sector and focus its efforts on the long-term development of the agricultural capacity of Liberia. EVA 2007/geo-acp: Evaluation of EC’s co-operation with Liberia 1999-2008 ECO Consult – AGEG – APRI – Euronet – IRAM – NCG 5 Additional

R5: Improve coordination and coherence of assistance The EU Delegation also should improve the strategic orientation of sector coordination, i.e. in particular in education, capacity development and food security in order to increase the overall coherence of donor support as such, and its alignment with Government-owned structures and mechanisms.

First and foremost, the Delegation will need to develop clear operational and strategic principles for donor coordination in main sectors (education, local economic development / decentralization, health), based on a joint assessment of the options for Government-led coordination in Liberia.

R6: Improve monitoring, supervision and oversight: The EU Delegation needs to increase attention on supervision, monitoring and evaluation of EC-financed projects, including those covered by contribution agreements with multilateral organizations.

Weaknesses in monitoring and evaluation have affected amongst others EC financed interventions in food security, and DDRR. Problems in other areas, such as the targeting flaws in the EC’ss support to income generation could have been detected earlier had more stringent monitoring and evaluation provisions been in place. In particular, the EU Delegation needs to make better use of the ROM missions and reports.

R7: Improve mainstreaming of crosscutting issues: The EU Delegation needs to critically review the practice of mainstreaming of crosscutting issues in Liberia and use the results of this review to refocus its mainstreaming approach in important sectors, such as education, health and county development.

This needs to start by adapting concepts such as gender and environment to the particular post-conflict circumstances in Liberia and by developing customized operational principles and guidelines for the Commission.

-Writes GDJ

 

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