In their numbers, a cross-section of citizens from Paynesville, outside Monrovia, gathered at the Auditorium of the Paynesville Community School yesterday to be abreast of their right to know what the 2012/13 proposed Fiscal Budget contains and the benefits the citizens should expect.
The one-day gathering was organized by Actions for Genuine Democratic Alternatives (AGENDA), Inc, held under the theme: " CSO Engagement: Increasing Transparency in Fiscal Management Budget & FOI Community Forum".
AGENDA Policy Director, G. Jasper Cummeh, who welcomed participants and introduced the awareness of program, said the exercise was aimed at discussing citizens’ right to participation in the deliberation of the current National Budget, emphasizing that the forum focuses on Montserrado County as one of the three counties AGENDA is operating in .
Mr. Cummeh noted that AGENDA has undertaken the initiative to create awareness for citizens of Montserrado to participate in analyzing the budget especially their county’s allocation because of " dramatic changes" now being made by the government over the years regarding budget preparations.
As research institution, he said AGENDA analyzes government’s policy briefs as well as engages citizens on budget, corruption , education, etc, aimed at harnessing good governance in the post-war country.
The Executive Director of Citizens United to Promote Peace and Democracy (CUPPAD), Prince Kreplah, provided briefing on " A Look at the 2012/13 Budget (Montserrado County)," giving highlights on allocations captured for various sectors of the government.
Carter Center Project Officer, Alphonso Zeon, lectured participants on "Citizens’ Right to Access Information- A Look at the FOI Law". According to him, Liberians need to make use of the Freedom of Information Law to seek information on how the government uses resources belonging to the nation in running state affairs.
The participants used the opportunity to raise concern about the persistent use of dual currencies- US dollar and Liberian dollar in the country, making specific emphasis on crafting the National Budget in US dollars rather than Liberian dollars.
Meanwhile, the facilitators said one of the reasons for organizing the forum was to get the citizens determine whether the budget has taken into account equitable distribution of the nation’s resources based on the population of each county.