13 September 2013

Liberia: Senate Finally Passes National Budget

The Liberian Senate has finally concurred with members of the House of Representatives on the passage of the 2013/14 national budget submitted by the Executive Branch of Government through the Finance Ministry.

Providing details on some amendments in the national budget on Thursday, the Senate Chairman on Ways, Means and Budget, Senator Sumo Kupee said that 13,000 government employees, including chiefs, nurses and teachers, who have been in the service, but not on payroll have been included in this year's budget.

Kupee, who is seeking re-election for Lofa County, noted that the Senate did not make any increment for civil servants, but he expressed hope that this will be achieved in the midterm budget, while stressing that due to budgetary constraints, the Senate deems it necessary for civil servants' salary to remain as is.

The Senate also included in the budget some medical institutions that are providing services to the Liberian People, including the St. Joseph's Catholic Hospital; the Eternal Love Wining Africa (ELWA) Hospital, Ganta Methodist Hospital, and the Rally Time Clinic.

The Senate also added the Nursing Association of Liberia and the University of Liberia medical college to the national budget.

On August 9, 2013, the House of Representatives passed the 2013/14 national budget following a special session, and subsequently forwarded same to the Liberian Senate for its possible concurrence. The lower House passed the budget without any significant increment, meaning the 2013/14 Fiscal Budget stands at US$553 million.

The House equally failed to make any increment in civil servants' salary, but only legislated President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf's general increment of US$25 for civil servants contained her 2013 Annual Massage. The passage of the 2013/14 national budget saw the National Oil Company of Liberia (NOCAL) contributing US$8 million.

On 1st May this year, the Executive Branch of Government through the Ministry of Finance submitted the 2013/14 draft national budget to the 53rd Liberian Legislature for public debate and enactment into law.

At the time, Deputy Finance Minister for Revenue, Dr. James Kollie said that the total projected revenue enveloped is US$553 million, as compared to US$672 million in Fiscal Year 2012/13.

This revised envelop does not include borrowing, which is US$80 million in FY12/13; Contingent Revenue (which was US$83 million in FY12/13); and Cash Brought Forward (which was US$3 million in FY12/13).

The detailed analysis of the Core Revenue envelops, including Tax, Non-tax, and Grant shows double digit growth. The Core Revenue is expected to grow from US$484 million to $543 million between FY12/13 and FY13/14, projecting a 12% increase.

The Senate also halted the 23 legislative projects placed in the national budget by the House of Representatives, stressing that those projects should be undertaken by the Executive Branch of Government which has the constitutional rights of implementation. With the rejection, the House of Representatives' quest of establishing a radio station has come to an end.

Senator Kupee, also a lecturer of Economics at the University of Liberia, explained that funds allotted to these has being placed under claims and the faith of these funds will be decided during the midterm of the national budget

Meanwhile, the budget has been sent to President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf for possible signing into law and subsequent printing into handbill.

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