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General News of Monday, 5 June 2006

Source: Chronicle

Liberia Borrows Ghana's "Goal King"

Her Excellency Ellen Johnson Sirleaf Johnson, the President of Liberia and the Legislature of the country have sent an SOS to the World Bank to assist them with capacity to construct a budget for the new government in which the first female African President has a minority.

After much consultation, two Europeans including a Swiss financial guru, were selected for the onerous task of designing and presenting a budget for the shattered economy, which is expected to get significant World Bank support.

Chronicle learnt that there were almost widespread anxieties over the content and tenor of the budget that was likely to be lacking an African perspective and appreciation of real needs, and the name of Ghana's star striker, Yaw Osafo Maafo was suggested and immediately snapped up.

Said one source familiar with the process, 'The Liberians are looking for a super striker to join their squad and are prepared to pay a King's ransom to get one, even among the ranks of Cote d'ivoire or Nigeria's clutch of goal poachers dominating the global football stage. But they finally settled for the equivalent of Michael Essien from Ghana. It was Yaw who has distinguished himself as a goal king, and fortunately it is he who can offer his services if he is willing to assist a sister nation in need, especially now that he has been removed and has spare time to attend to his private matters'.

Ellen Johnson Sirleaf who is no stranger to Ghana, having served on the board of Databank until recently, was excited when the news that they could get the services of arguably on of the world's greatest Finance Minister became a distinct possibility. She implored the World Bank to work on Osafo Maafo, who consulted with key members of his constituents at Akim Oda. They had no hesitation in agreeing to lend their 'Oseadeeyo' to the Liberians provided that, it would not be a full time engagement, after all, if there are some benefits it would reflect on our constituency and then rub off the whole Ghana in a big way'.

The Liberians agreed with the former Finance Minister that they would first invite him to conduct a seminar on 'The Roles and Responsibilities of the Executive and Legislature in preparing the national budget', and then take it from there.

The seminar would introduce the participants to the concepts, principles and key features of the budget cycle and how to improve the budget deliberation process so that informed decision can be made in a constructive and timely manner on the allocation of funds in the 2006/2007 budget of the country.

The second limb of the consultancy, dressed up as a seminar, would deal with how to promote a deliberation process in which legislators respond to concerns of their constituencies and the Executive defends its proposed budget in a coherent manner.

What is at the fore of the process is how the demilitarized war commanders-turned- democrats and politicians overnight can foster a constructive working relationship between the two branches of government and promote good governance by building integrity, accountability and transparency into the budget process.

The first leg of the consultancy, requested by the World Bank, is expected to arrest a potentially divisive process and help the country over come the potential problems in the budget process which is likely to invite demands from competing War Lords anxious to be seen to let the pockets of their support base aware that they are making inputs and contributing to the designing of the budget.

Chronicle learnt that Parliament had already cleared and granted permission from the Committee for the Office of Profit for Yaw to travel.

He is expected to travel out today.

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