23 November 2012

Liberia: 2012/13 Budget Not Yet Printed

Reports gathered by this paper revealed that the 2012/13 national budget, which was passed by the Liberian Legislature and subsequently signed by President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf in July this year, is yet to be printed into handbill by the Foreign Ministry.

The Finance Ministry has also failed to make the budget available to media houses, stakeholders and publication of some key portions of the document in the local dailies. Many economists have termed the action as unprecedented and a terrible signal for bad governance and corruption.

The failure of the Finance Ministry to ensure the printing of the budget into handbill is a clear violation of the 2008 Public Financial Management Act of Liberia.

According to sources, failure to printing the 2012/13 budget is due to shortcomings of the Finance Ministry to submit the full budget book. The budget book is the entirety of the 2012/13 fiscal year.

The 2012/13 budget was submitted to the Liberian Legislature on May 31, by the Executive through the Ministry of Finance in the tune of US$649.72m for passage into law.

Due to some hitches between line ministries and agencies of government, it took the Liberian Legislature an entire month to see it passed by that august body.

President Johnson-Sirleaf signed it into law immediately, making it a legal document for the country.

Finance Ministry Communications Director Sidiki Trawallay, denied having much knowledge of the budget and instead, referred this paper to the Deputy Minister for Budget, Mr. Sebastian Muah, for clarity.

But Muah's Special Assistant, Mr. Ralph Sankally said, he has not received permit from his boss (Deputy Minister Muah) to speak to the press on the issue.

According to reports gathered from some ministries of government, the Finance Ministry issues monthly brochures to heads of government institutions about what was being allotted to them for that month.

The report further said most ministries and agencies are finding it challenging to meet their regular financial obligations.

The revenue department at the Finance Ministry is said to be encountering difficulties in generating the needed revenue for government's full operation, which is leading to a seeming short fall.

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