Senators Thursday raised alarms over the discovery of a huge discrepancy in the fiscal budget of 2012/13, saying most of the allotments remain unexecuted as the fiscal year comes to an end.
"The issue of discrepancy in the budget is very huge. But even the execution is another issue, some of our counties, some of our constituencies today, have not received what was allotted for them," said Sen. Henry Yallah (Bong County 2).
Some of the lawmakers said that money placed in the budget for programs were different from those being expended by the Finance Ministry, raising doubts over the particular fiscal tool that the country's fiscal house is utilizing.
"We as a body were able to determine that, there was indeed some tampering with the budget," revealed Sen. Alphonso Gaye (Grand Gedeh 2).
The latest development came in a wake of reports that the Finance Minister, Amara Konneh was critically ill and that he has been flown out of the country for further medication.
Konneh's illness has delayed previous talks on the issue of discrepancy when the lawmakers met last week to debate the matter.
Another attempt to debate it was foiled yesterday on similar grounds as the Senate committee on Ways, Means & Finance pleaded for more time to discuss the issue.
However at the plenary Thursday, Sen. Yallah said that the continuous postponement of talks on the budget could further jeopardize the interest of the people who they represent, adding that Minister Konneh was not the only one running the Ministry of Finance that could provide clarity on the issue.
"No one wants to be too sharp on a particular institution or person. It's about looking at what our people should get. Why should we? This is the third time [that this issue has been postponed].
"There must be a timeline for this issue to be addressed. The Finance Ministry is not only run by Minister Konneh, he has several deputies that handle such issues. His falling sick cannot stop the function of the Ministry," Sen. Yallah said.
Former Senate Pro-tempore, Cletus Wotorson (Grand Kru County 1) said he felt disappointed that the senate was becoming an "institution of procrastination."
"We had suspicion that some things were going wrong in the financial sector. We asked the Legislative budget office to go in there, and investigate and present the document to us. You don't need a rocket scientist or econometrist. Call to find out and then tell the Ministry, look, this is the disparity that has been going on and we are concerned about it.
"So I am a bit disappointed that anytime we have something important to discuss, our committees will postpone, and we will keep postponing," he said.
Sen. Geraldine Doe-Sherriff (Montserrado County 2) who is also a member of the Senate Ways, Means & Finance Committee responsible to investigate the discrepancies, said though the plight of their people was always paramount to them, the discrepancy claims must be "authenticated."
"There are documents and presentations that are supposed to be made to the committee. We cannot come and make a half-hazard report that is not completed because we are concerned about what is happening. The Liberian people are listening, everybody is listening.
"We are doing our best to make sure the right thing is done and to make sure that those discrepancies are clear and true," Sen. Doe-Sheriff said.