Richard Hemming and Roy Kelly
A group of government officials from Liberia have just completed a two-week workshop arranged by the Duke Center for International Development (DCID). The purpose of the workshop, which was requested by the PFM Reforms Coordination Unit of the Ministry of Finance, was to develop capacity of officials from key economic and spending ministries most closely involved with the ongoing PFM reform program. This PFM program in Liberia has attracted broad donor and IFI support and achieved major successes since its inception in 2007, anchored by the passing of a new PFM Act in 2009. The government is now preparing a PFM Reform Strategy and Action Plan for 2011-14, the main objectives of which influenced the design of the workshop program (see below).
The IMF’s Fiscal Affairs Department (FAD) has played a lead role in advising Liberia on PFM reform, and DCID was able to team up with two IMF staff closely involved with FAD’s technical assistance program in Liberia. Florence Kuteesa’s early contribution to the workshop set the scene by providing an African perspective on PFM reform and drawing lessons from the Ugandan experience, while Duncan Last brought deliberations to an end by focusing on reform priorities, and especially the importance of putting in place an appropriate PFM legal framework. In between, the workshop addressed a wide range of PFM topics, with contributions from DCID faculty at Duke and from IMF and World Bank staff during a two-day visit to Washington.
The workshop turned out to be a lively affair, largely due to the active involvement of the Liberian officials. A particular feature of the workshop sessions was the interaction between them, as representatives from different ministries brought their own perspective to bear on different PFM issues. Indeed one of the lasting benefits of the workshop should be that a group of officials with different backgrounds and responsibilities will return to Liberia with a shared appreciation of Liberia’s PFM challenges and a common vision of PFM reform objectives.
The workshop was also a rewarding experience for DCID--an opportunity to learn and share international PFM experiences, interacting closely with government officials closely linked to a country-specific PFM reform strategy. Not only did this require a tailor-made program, but also extreme flexibility to adapt the program ‘on-the-fly’ as participant’s concerns became more apparent as workshop discussions started. The Duke program benefited enormously from FAD’s willingness to share its PFM expertise and deep understanding of PFM issues in Liberia. Reflecting the success of the workshop, it looks as though DCID will continue to be involved with PFM-related training activities in Liberia. Hopefully, the workshop will also be a forerunner of further joint efforts by DCID and the IMF to support capacity building in the PFM area.
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