Liberian Financial Professionals in America Make Recommendations to GOL


Winsley S. Nanka, CPA


The Perspective
Atlanta, Georgia
March 11, 2006


“Liberians cannot sit abroad and not pay property taxes on their properties at home. Some of us have to carry the heavy burden, and we should be prepared to carry the heavy burden to ensure that progress is made”, Emmett Peabody

A number of Liberian financial professionals in the United States have made recommendations to the Government of Liberia (GOL) to improve operating efficiency and enhance accountability in government financial management system. The recommendations are in response to the article published by The Perspective on February 20, 2006 entitled “Finance Minister Sayeh: Restructure the Ministry of Finance”. Among the Liberians that made recommendations in emails to The Perspective are Edward B. Tolbert, a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) in Washington, DC, Emmett Peabody, an Accountant and Realtor in Philadelphia, Zack Sharpe, III, a Government Accountant and Fiscal Officer in Providence, Rhode Island, among others. Below are the highlights of the recommendations:

· The legislative budgetary process and execution need to be addressed to ensure that appropriations obligations of GOL resources are inextricable intertwined within the law in other words (the budget is a lawful document).
· Training and staff development in technical areas be initially done with No Political affiliations so that an operative system is in place to maintain a conceptual framework for a GOL financial management system irrespective of any government administration in power.

· The proposal to establish the authority of the Governmental Accounting Standard Board (GASB) in Liberia needs to be revisited and possibly coordinated with the Financial Accounting Authority Board/Office of the private sector in order for accounting policies developed to be used by public corporations and other non-governmental entities responsible for presenting financial statements, audits and other required disclosures for public consumption.

· The establishment of a viable accounting system backed by audits and other attestation services will definitely provide a measurement focus that will help the
GOL fight the type of corruptions and bring about the needed integrity, transparencies, and credibility that the international financial institutions are
are requesting.

· Out source some government services to the private sector to reduce the size of the government, which has the potential to generate efficiency. Out sourcing would help the Liberian private sector by giving Liberian businesses contracts.
· Government should also look at ways of tapping into the Liberians in the US that have properties in Liberia. Property taxes should be another way the government could create revenue center. Liberians cannot sit abroad and not pay property taxes on their properties at home. Government needs the money to start rebuilding. If we need to see progress, government needs to find ways to generate tax revenues to get the country back on its feet. Liberians abroad must see themselves in a unique situation to help the country to move forward. Some of us have to carry the heavy burden and we should be prepared to carry the heavy burden to ensure that progress is made.

· Government should initiate temporary workers program in Liberia. Professional Liberians in the Diaspora could return home, and work in different capacities at different government ministries, state agencies, and public corporations on a voluntary basis for a short period of time. The government will have to find a way to tap in the wealth of experience that lies in the Liberian community abroad.

· If GASB standards are adopted in Liberia, GASB Statement No. 34 (Basic Financial Statements - and Management’s Discussion and Analysis – States and Local Government) should be implemented. GASB Statement No. 34 will make the government annual reports easier to understand and more useful to the people who use government financial information to make decisions. GASB No. 34 financial reports will be more useful to decision makers because it matches income to expenditures, and summarizes variances in operations from prior years in the management discussion and analysis component. GASB No. 34 financial reports would provide useful financial information to members of the national legislature their staff, members of governmental oversight bodies, investors, creditors, and others who will provide resources to the government. GASB No. 34 will for the first time, introduce full accrual accounting in the government wide financial reporting system which will allow financial managers/directors in government to generate relevant financial information for the public.

There seems to be goodwill on the part of Liberians in the Diaspora to make their contributions to the reconstruction process in Liberia. Liberians in the Diaspora have a wealth of knowledge that could prove critical in filling the “knowledge gap” in Liberia. Liberians “on the ground” should see their fellow countrymen and women in the Diaspora as valuable human capital in the transformation of the war-torn country. They need to look outside their “comfort zones” and embrace Liberians from the Diaspora. The government should make every effort to get the “critical talent” Liberia needs. Critical talent “are people who create the value the organization needs to succeed”. There are many advantages to embracing Liberian talent from outside. Liberian talent from outside will bring “fresh approaches and viewpoints’ critical to the development needs of Liberia. The infusion of these new skills and talent from abroad will compliment the contributions Liberians on the ground are making toward the nation building process. . It is in the interest of the fledging Liberian electoral democracy for every Liberian to participate in the rebuilding of Liberia.