Finance Minister Amara Konneh says the US$582m national budget for fiscal year 2013/14 articulates clearly the policy priorities and direction of the Government of Liberia.
Speaking at a special press briefing held at the Ministry of information, Minister Konneh asserted that through the national budget, the government seeks to invest in key infrastructures and social programs intended to expand the economy for growth, development and job creation.
"Given the size of our budget and the fiscal space with which we must navigate our development agenda, the passage comes at a very critical point in our drive to stimulate growth through increased consumer spending and execution of Public Investment Projects," Minister Konneh said.
The Ministry of Finance, which is the fiscal authority of the Government of Liberia, after several months of consultations and hearings with all spending entities, developed and presented a draft national budget in May 2013 that intends to further the country's transformation agenda.
FY13/14 draft budget highlights investments in key areas that are consistent with the government's development priorities, focusing on Energy, Roads, Ports, and ICT. These areas hold the greatest potential for economic growth, expansion and development.
The government said it has ensured that critical investments in energy, ongoing road works, road maintenance, youth development, capacity building, security, reconciliation, and ICT were protected, including sector projects that were begun during the FY12/13 to ensure the country did not create "sunk costs" or "white elephant" projects.
The authorities of the Ministry of Finance disclosed that excluding these components from the national revenue envelop projects a more realistic picture and a solid revenue base upon which public expenditures can be planned and executed.
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 date 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 breakdown of the FY13/14 budget highlights key areas of investment, after recurring expenditure, to include but not limited to: Salaries and Wages, amounting to US$206.0 million; Goods & Services, US$124.5 million; Energy, US$15.3 million, and Roads & Bridges US$23.7 million, respectively.
Other highlights in the budget include ICT US$3.5 million; Youth Development US$5.0 million; Capacity Building US$3.0 million; Health US$11.0 million; Education US$15.0 million; Security US$10.0 million, WASH US$3.2 million, and Reconciliation, US$2.0 million.
In a related development, Minister Konneh has termed a significant milestone the passage of the legislation creating the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning (MFDP) and the Liberia Revenue Authority (LRA).
The passage of these laws will go a long way to bring the much needed collaborations to the operations of government by eliminating current duplications and gaps in the functions of both the Ministries of Finance and the Ministry of Planning and Economic Affairs, thereby resulting in better allocation of human and financial resources and better service delivery.
The new Ministry of Finance and Development Planning, Minister Konneh noted, will streamline the national planning and finance functions and foster increased aid coordination within the government and between Liberia's development partners, as all of the country's aid coordination functions will now be undertaken in a centralized unit. Better aid management will increase donor confidence which should contribute to greater, more sustainable support.
Through the semi- autonomous LRA, the revenue department would be separate from the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning and would focus more on the efficient collection of revenues, working closely with the Ministry. The rollout of these legislations would be sequenced in a smooth and orderly transition, paying keen attention to the sensitive issues of staffing and other assets.