Officials of economic and financial departments in the member states of the West African Institute for Financial and Economic Management have made strong recommendations to stamp out corruption and fiscal indiscipline in government circles.
The senior public officials from Nigeria, Ghana, Liberia, Sierra Leone and The Gambia say there is the need to enforce and strengthen legislations by various governments with the aim of tackling fiscal indiscipline and perennial corruption in the sub-region.
“Corruption remains a challenge in the effective utilization and management of public funds within the West African sub-region,” they say, adding that the adoption of best practices of good governance, transparency and accountability are precondition for the achievement of rapid economic growth, sustainable development and poverty reduction.
Investigative institutions and judicial arm of governments must be truly independent and capable of prosecuting culprits, they state in a communiqué they established after their two-week regional course on public financial management held at the Paradise Suites Hotel in Kololi from 19 to 30 March this year.
They also observed that strong institutions and attitudinal change, especially on the part of political leaders, public officials, and the citizenry, are critical to the attainment of the overall objective of sustainable development.
“There has been poor commitment of all stakeholders, particularly bureaucrats and politicians in the attainment of fiscal discipline,” they also observe.
Exemplary leadership and change of attitude are critical to the attainment of the overall objective of sustainable development in the sub-region, the senior public officials indicate, saying there is need for capacity building and training of government officials on the operations of an Integrated Financial Management Information System (IFMIS).
“It is imperative to follow international best practices in good governance as well as put into practice the codes of fiscal transparency to which many West African countries have assented to,” the communiqué states.
It continues: “Governments need to create fiscal space by reducing misappropriation of public funds for economic development and poverty reduction. In addition, they need to make adequate provisions on revenue or expenditure for counter-cyclical impact thereby reducing the need for policy interventions.
“Constitutional provision should be enacted to further prevent the absolute exercise of power by the Legislature in determining budgetary allocations during budget preparation; that monitoring and performance indicators are established to monitor and evaluate annual budgets as well as facilitate adequate expenditure control and performance evaluation.
“There is the need to enforce and strengthen legislations by various governments with the aim of tackling fiscal indiscipline and perennial corruption in the sub-region. Investigative institutions and judicial arm of governments must be truly independent and capable of prosecuting culprits.”
The regional course was designed to widen participants’ knowledge and skills on current public financial management practices. It was also intended to acquaint participants with some of the challenges confronting public financial management in the sub-region.
After the course, the established communiqué was read in front of the 2nd Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of The Gambia, Mrs Oumie S. Samba, who officially declared the workshop closed with the following statement:
“On behalf of the Governor of the Central Bank of The Gambia, Hon. Amadou Colley, I wish to congratulate you all for the successful completion of the two-week Regional Course on Public Financial Management: Budgeting, Planning and Performance.
“As was indicated in the keynote address delivered by the Governor of the Central Bank of The Gambia during the opening ceremony, an efficient public financial management is an important catalyst for economic growth and development, and hence poverty reduction.
“Hence the course was structured to provide you with an understanding of how public budgeting fits into the macroeconomic framework and how good public finance management can contribute to our efforts to improve conditions of our people.
“I am certain that this objective has been achieved, and that you have been challenged enough in these past two weeks here in The Gambia.
“Let me thank the Director General of WAIFEM and his team for the opportunity to host this important course here in Banjul, On behalf of the Governor, Hon, Amadou Colley, we wish to acknowledge the important role that WAIFEM is playing on our respective countries in building capacity for efficient public service.”