It appears that a dark cloud is hanging over the controversial Fiscal Year 2013/2014 National Budget, with latest report emerging that the office of President Ellen Johnson- Sirleaf has not received this nation driven document.
Accordingly, the location of the budget remains a complete misery.
This latest report contradicts earlier assertions by House Speaker J. Alex Tyler that the Legislature had since submitted the budget to President Johnson-Sirleaf for approval.
It could be recalled that on August 11, 2013, the House of Representatives passed the budget and subsequently submitted it to the Senate for concurrence.
The Senate concurred with the House of Representatives on September 12, 2013 just days before the climax of the second session of the 53rd Liberian legislature.
Speaking recently at the Ministry of Information, Cultural Affairs and Tourism (MICAT) regular press briefing in Monrovia, House Speaker Tyler asserted that the lawmakers had "done their part" in passing into law the national budget. He pointed out that the national budget was sent to the President for signing into law.
"Before the national budget left the Capitol Building, we had four signatures on it, the Vice President, who is the President of the Senate, had to sign, but in his absent, the Senate Pro-Tempore signed; I had to sign, the Chief Clerk of the House and the Secretary of the Senate also had to sign. So, we had done our part and the budget is now before the President," he amongst other things added.
Contrary to Speaker Tyler's assertions, authorities of the Ministry of Finance have stated that the national budget has not yet been submitted to the Office of the President.
The Ministry, in a press statement issued in Monrovia over the weekend, called on lawmakers who have been taking the airwaves in recent days to check their facts and desist from shifting responsibility to the wrong place, which put their credibility, professionalism and true commitment to doing the business for which they were elected under scrutiny.
It can be recalled that on Thursday, October 17, 2013 Grand Bassa County District # 3 Representative, Gabriel Buchanan Smith, expressed dismay over thealleged delay in the signing into law the national budget by the President.
He told legislative reporters that the growing wave of "hardship in the country" was allegedly due to President Johnson-Sirleaf's latest action.
According to him, several Liberians are impatiently awaiting what he called "temporary employment" if the national budget is urgently approved by the President.
He claimed that public schools and medical centers currently lack logistics in the discharge of national duties due to the alleged delay in the signing of the budget. But the Ministry of Finance authorities indicated that the lawmakers need to acquire from their respective leaderships to establish whether or not the national budget was submitted to the President.
"The Authorities of the Ministry of Finance wishes to inform the Liberian people that some out-of-touch lawmakers have been using the airwaves in the last few days to criticize the President for not singing the FY2013/2014 National Budget.
The Ministry of Finance suggests that these lawmakers ask their leadership whether or not they had submitted the National Budget to the President for signing before they closed the Legislature for their Agriculture Break. The fact is that up until Monday, October 14, the Budget had not reached the President for signing. Under our laws, the President can only sign the budget when it is submitted to the Office of the President by the Legislature, and record shows that nothing was submitted by them," the ministry amongst other things stated in the press statement.
Some political pundits say the failure of the legislature to make public the presentation of the national budget to the Office of President through a press conference makes it "difficult and hard to believe" that the Liberian Chief Executive receive the budget.
"We have to blame ourselves if the Executive is saying that they do not have the budget. The same way they brought journalists with them and held a press conference when they were presenting the budget to us, we supposed to do the same," a lawmaker, who spoke on condition of anonymity, averred.
The Office of the President has not yet made any public comment on the issue of the National Budget of fiscal period 2013/2014.