Mr. Gareth Thomas:
The National Transitional Government of Liberia (NTGL) has agreed, with the support of the international community, a Results Focused Transitional Framework to guide the process of reconstruction during its two-year period of office. It includes benchmarks on improved governance, democratic development, the rule of law, and transparency and accountability of public institutions (including those responsible for the financial sector and procurement).
The NTGL has taken several steps to improve public financial management. It has made the Ministry of Finance solely responsible for tax and revenue collection and has made it a criminal offence for other officials to collect them; it has ended the monopolies on rice and petroleum products; and it has announced audits of the Liberia Petroleum Refining Company, the Forestry Development Authority, the National Port Authority, the Bureau of Maritime Affairs and Roberts International Airport. It has also set up committees to examine measures needed to bring order to the forestry and diamond industries and to the aircraft registry. The Comprehensive Peace Agreement, signed in August 2003, provides for free and fair elections in October 2005.
We support the NTGL in these objectives. For 2003 and 2004, we have committed a total of £16.6 million in bilateral aid and £13 million as our share of the EU budget for Liberia.