New Democrat (Monrovia)

4 September 2012

Liberia: Budget Lingers

Photo: James M. GarresenII/ Executive Mansion
President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf signs into Law the 2012/2013 National Budget.

The 2012'2013 national budget continues to linger at the National Legislature as civil servants continue to press their demands for salary increase.

It's passage into law by the legislature is undergoing it's final process before sending it to the executive for their approval, F. Nanblor F. Singbeh, Sr. Secretary of the Liberian Senate confirmed here Monday.

It's passage into law by the legislature is undergoing it's final process before sending it to the executive for their approval, F. Nanblor F. Singbeh, Sr. Secretary of the Liberian Senate confirmed here Monday.

The current US$6.5 million fiscal budget did not appear to have considered salary increment for civil servants whose payrolls are reported to be overloaded with ghost names.

When the budget was submitted to the Legislature recently, the lawmakers tried to prevail on paymasters to adjust their records to reflect legitimate employees. But it remains unclear whether the ghost names were deleted.

During the debate over the budget, lawmakers reportedly increased their salaries and fringe benefits by 100 percent, apparently leaving the question of salary increment for civil servants in limbo.

The situation sparked a non-violent demonstration in front of the President's office on Capitol Hill last week as government workers called on the President to veto the budget because of the failure of lawmakers to increase their salaries.

The civil servants accused the lawmakers of not seeking their interest by ignoring their pleas for salary rise. According to the government workers, the National Legislature added 22 million dollars to the fiscal budget and increment of staffers of the House by 100 percent without considering the need to raise the salary of the civil servants.

They pointed to the low pay most of them were receiving from the government in the face of harsh economic reality in the country where prices of goods and services have quadrupled.

Meanwhile, the apparent slow process in the passage of the budget has led to the speculation that the lawmakers may be contemplating considering the civil servants' demands.

Mr. Singbe insists that the budget was still before the Legislature and has not yet been forwarded to the President for her approval.

"The bill is still here. So people are crying around here that the bill has not reached the president. The idea is that, the bill has to pass through some processes before reaching to the executive for final approval.

"It passes through engrossment and enrollment. There is nothing that can be so speedy than what we are doing. The idea is that it should be engrossed and enrolled. We are working on it (budget) and we are almost to a finalization point," he said.

According to the Oxford American Dictionary an engrossment is the final or definitive form of a legal document including a bill.

Its passage into law by the legislature is undergoing its final process before sending it to the executive for their approval, F. Nanblor F. Singbeh, Sr. Secretary of the Liberian Senate confirmed here Monday.

Mr. Singbeh who was seen stamping the pages of the just passed budget however noted that the budget was in the finalization process before sending it to the President for an approval.

"So our people should not worry. We are doing all we can to fast track the process. Maybe we will be through with it today (Monday)," he assured.

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