3 September 2012

Liberia: Where Is the 2012/13 Budget?

The whereabouts of the 2012/2013 draft fiscal budget is yet unknown days after the Upper House (Senate) concurred with the Lower House (Representatives).

Both houses passed the controversial budget last week, with expectations that it would have been forwarded to President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf for signature and subsequent printing into handbill and use as financial instrument for the fiscal period.

But Presidential Spokesperson Jerolimick Piah told this paper Saturday night that the draft budget is yet to reach the office of the president.

His comment was prompted by an inquiry based on speculations in the corridors of the Capitol Friday that the President has vetoed the 2012/13 fiscal budget due to allegations that the lawmakers had increased their benefits and allowances by 100%.

Currently members of the House of Representatives earn US$4000 monthly plus other benefits and the Senate US5000 monthly plus other benefits too.

A highly placed government official who spoke to this paper on condition of anonymity Sunday said the budget was still at the Capitol for cleaning because there is a disagreement among lawmakers as regard some infusion into the draft budget.

The official did not say what the infusion was, but added that after the cleaning it is likely that the draft bill will be presented to the president before the close of today (Monday September 3.)

When contacted Sunday, Senate Pro-tempore Gbezongar Findley confirmed the concurrence of the budget by the Senate but said the document has been sent back to the House of Representatives for some 'clean up' something which is unusual in legislative practices.

Once a bill is passed by both houses it is immediately forwarded to the President for signature and printing into handbill. It could be recalled that the House of Representatives on Thursday August 30, 2012 passed the National draft Budget and forwarded same to the Liberian Senate for possible concurrence.

The Ways Means and Finance Committee Chairman briefing plenary following the reading of the report recommended the passage of the budget and informed his colleagues that additional and unencumbered amount to over US$22 million was added to the proposed US$ 679.72 million budget.

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