Monday, 30 May 2022 09:07

CENTAL Ends Stakeholders’ Dialogue on CSDF Featured

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CENTAL Ends Stakeholders’ Dialogue on CSDF
The Center for Transparency and Accountability in Liberia (CENTAL) Tuesday, May 24, 2022, held a one-day stakeholders’ dialogue on accountability and impact of the County Social Development Fund (CSDF) in Liberia.
Held under the theme: ‘Strengthening stakeholders’ collaboration and partnership around the CSDF for greater impact,’ panelists and participants said, for the CSDFs to make the desired and intended impacts, leaders must ensure that decision-making at County Sittings is transparent, inclusive, evidence-based, and in the best interest of citizens.
The one-day stakeholders’ dialogue engagement was held under CENTAL’s Open Expenditure Initiative, a core activity of its ongoing National Integrity Building and Anti-Corruption (NIBA) Program funded by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida).
It brought together diverse people, including ordinary citizens, development partners, policymakers, public integrity institutions, youth and women, the media, civil society, and community-based organizations (CSOs/CBOs).
In remarks, the Chairman of the Board of Directors of CENTAL and Dean at the Louis Arthur Grimes School of Law at the University of Liberia (UL), Cllr. T. Negbalee Warner reiterated that the fight against corruption in Liberia requires a broad stakeholders’ engagement.
“Our focus at CENTAL is to see a corruption-free society, but we alone can’t do it by ourselves because the fight against corruption requires a broad stakeholders’ engagement for the good of the society,” Cllr. Warner said. He stated that corruption undermines the growth and development of any country and the decision by CENTAL to have brought various stakeholders together was to allow them to share their opinions on how the CSDF can impact the lives of the people.
The CENTAL Board Chair extended gratitude on behalf of the Organization to all civil society organizations, community-based organizations (CSOs/CBOs) and government institutions that were represented at the event, particularly public integrity institutions and members of the National Integrity Forum (NIF) – the General Auditing Commission (GAC), Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC), Public Procurement and Concessions Commission (PPCC), Ministry of Justice (MoJ) and the Swedish Government, through the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA) for the support to CENTAL.
For her part, Nikolina Stålhand, Second Secretary/Program Officer, Democracy and Human Rights at the Swedish in Liberia said transparency and accountability are important preconditions for inclusive development in Liberia. “The Embassy of Sweden and SIDA are very much committed to the fight against corruption and to promote good governance,” she assured.
Here in Liberia, she said CENTAL plays a key role in holding government accountable, thereby encouraging citizens to demand what is right and take action against corruption.
She said why it’s true that CENTAL is playing a pivotal role in the fight against corruption, there was a need for citizens to take concrete actions by actively participating into public debates, demand and hold their leaders accountable for the development of their communities.
There were five (5) strategically selected panelists, including the Auditor General of the General Auditing Commission (GAC), P. Garswa Jackson, Sr.; the Chief Executive Officer of the Public Procurement and Concessions Commission (PPCC), and the Chairperson of the National Integrity Forum (NIF), Atty. J. Roseline Nagbe Kowo; the Executive Director of the Naymote Partners for Development, Eddie Jarwolo, and the Program Manager for Education and Prevention at the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC), James K. Kingsley.
The panelists presented on the topic: “MAKING THE CSDF WORK MORE FOR CITIZENS: Transparency & Accountability Challenges, Prospects, and Recommendations for the Future.”
CENTAL’s Gender Officer and Coordinator of the OEI, Dr. Akiah Precious Glay presented on, ‘CENTAL in Perspective and provided an overview of the dialogue.
For his part, the Executive Director of CENTAL, Anderson D. Miamen thanked the panelists for providing interesting perspectives on key issues relating to the CSDF and how to make it more impactful and citizens-driven.
Miamen also appreciated diverse stakeholders and partners who participated in the event and made salient contributions to the deliberations.
“We are grateful to Sida for the immense financial support that is making all of these activities and engagements possible. Thanks also to our many partners and stakeholders, especially ordinary citizens and communities that continue to appreciate and support our work. Together and with time, we will the war against Corruption in Liberia,” the CENTAL boss said.
The essence of the Open Expenditure Forum is to promote openness and accountability in the public space through access to information that is very critical to the consolidation of the Country’s democracy. It provides the space for citizens to interact with government officials and voice concerns about the effectiveness and efficiency of resources expended and or projects and activities undertaken by public officials by and through their resources, especially the County Social Development Funds.
Even though laws exist to promote transparency and accountability, as well as to prevent corruption in the expenditure of public resources including the County Social Development Fund (CSDF), the conducts of the custodians of those resources continue to fall short of meeting the benchmarks of transparency, accountability and anti-corruption.
The CSDF was established as part of the Government’s commitment to ensuring that the following objectives are achieved: ensure that funds allocated to counties are properly managed, accounted for, and applied in accordance with the County Development Plan; full participation of local inhabitants in the planning, development, and implementation of the CSDF; minimize the direct political influence in the management and implementation of the CSDF; ensure value for public funds allotted to the counties as CSDF.
Despite the law, the issues of transparency, inclusion/participation, and accountability still remain a daunting challenge in the utilization of CSDFs in the Country.
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