International Experts to Manage Liberia for Three Years


By Winsley S. Nanka. CPA

The Perspective
Atlanta, Georgia
September 20, 2005


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In direct response to the failure of the Liberian government to utilize the resources of Liberia for the benefit of the Liberian people for the past 25 years, the international community will effectively take control of government revenue and expenditure management systems in Liberia for three years, under the Governance and Economic Management Assistance Program (GEMAP). The objective is to ensure that the revenue generated from the resources of Liberia, and bilateral and multilateral economic assistance provided by the international community are used to improve the living standards of the Liberian people. However, if Liberia fails to meet the objectives established by GEMAP at end of the third year, the provisions of GEMAP could be extended. The final document was signed on September 9, 2005 by the Chairman of the National Transitional Government of Liberia (NTGL), Gyude Bryant and three government ministers, on behalf of the Liberian government, and two representatives of International Contact Group of Liberia signed for the international community.

According to the final document, GEMAP has three major elements and six major components. The three major elements of GEMAP are the Economic Governance Steering Committee, which is chaired by the Liberian Head of State, The Cash Management Committee, which will be headed by a foreign expert and the Resource Management Unit, which would be headed by ten international experts. However, Liberian professional firms and experts are encouraged to compete under the provisions of GEMAP. The Six major components of GEMAP are:

(A) Securing Liberia Revenue Base. A team of international experts would be posted in key revenue generating agencies and state owned enterprises. The state agencies to be immediately affected upon the implementation of the plan are the Ministry of Finance (MOF) and National Bank of Liberia (NBL). The state owned enterprises to be immediately affected are the Roberts International Airport (RIA), Forestry Development Authority (FDA), and Bureau of Maritime Affairs, Bureau of Customs and Excise, among others. The team of international experts assigned to these agencies would have signature authority, meaning they will approve all transactions undertaken by the agencies concerned.

(B) Improving Budgetary Control and Processes. This component of GEMAP is intended to improve the Liberian government budget formulation, execution and the financial reporting processes. According to the document, the Liberian government budgetary system is marred in inefficiency. There is no commitment control system in place which means that government agencies incurred expenditures without any budgetary appropriation or cash available. In view of this, the international experts would be posted at the relevant government agencies to monitor government expenditure through various committees including Cash Management Committee, Integrated Financial management Information System (IFMIS) and the Resource Management Unit (RMU). According to the document, the MRU would be financed by external funds and could comprise ten experts. They will be posted at the Ministry of Finance.

(C) Improving procurement and Concession Processes and Practices. This provision is intended to establish transparency in awarding contracts and concession agreements based on internationally accepted standards. In view of this, the document calls for equity and transparency in bidding and awarding contracts, the approval of all concession agreements by the Minister of Finance. Importantly, The Resource Management Unit will review all concession agreements before submission to the Minister of Finance, and the publication of all concession reviews on the Website of the Ministry of Finance.

(D) Establishing Effective Process to Control Corruption. To achieve this objective, GEMAP calls for the establishment of an independent Anti-Corruption Commission, that has the power to prosecute anyone found in violation of the commission’s statute. The Provision also calls for the posting of international judicial experts to “monitor and advise the Liberian Judiciary”. However, GEMAP does not call for the posting of foreign judges in Liberian courtrooms to adjudicate cases.

(E) Supporting Key Institutions. The document calls for the posting of a senior international administrator with the Central Bank of Liberia (CBL), and the posting of an External Audit Agent with the General Auditing Office. The Governance Reform Commission (GRC) would also receive technical assistance under GEMAP to improve its capacity and operating efficiency.

(F) Capacity Building. According to the document, GEMAP is intended to complement the capacity building process already undertaken by Liberian government in partnership with the international community. GEMAP is not intended to serve as a permanent solution to the governance and economic management problems in Liberia. Therefore, the plan includes short-term planning for poverty reduction and capacity building, timeline for measuring output and an exit strategy.

This is not the first time, that the international community will be managing the economy of Liberia due to the failure of the Liberian government to institute a sound financial management system and transparency in its revenue and expenditure management systems. According to, on November 26, 1912, an international receivership was established for Liberia. The receivership was established because of the inability of the Liberian government to repay loans it had acquired from prior periods. This led to a group of British, American, French and German bankers to loan the Liberian government $1.7 million to refinance its loans. As a precondition for the loans, Liberian custom organization was placed under an international receivership to ensure the repayment of the loans.

Regardless of whatever assistance the international community gives Liberia, Liberians need to take personal responsibilities for the development of the country. Liberia will not develop unless Liberians use the resources the country is endowed for the benefit of its people.