New Democrat (Monrovia)

Liberia: 'Budget Under Pressure'

Finance Minister Amara Konneh has provided to the House of Representatives, reasons and causes for a potential budget shortfall in the 2013/2014 national budget.

Konneh appeared yesterday on invitation from the House Plenary and informed the body that there was a risk or delay in revenue of about US$47m. A Finance Ministry release quoted him as saying that further delays were expected due to the non-payment of the European Union budget support tranche of US$14m as one of the education sector triggers was not met. He said the budget is under pressure due to the revenue delays and the additional demands on the budget of over $18m.

According to the release, Minister Konneh further warned that cuts are expected in all sectors, mainly in the use of goods and services budget classification, with the exception of security, education and health.

He gave the assurance that the state of the economy is intact in spite of challenges associated with revenue shortfall and exchange rate surge. Commenting on ways to address the problem, he said the Ministry of Finance would shortly launch an aggressive domestic resource mobilization campaign to boost revenue collection across the country. The release further said he further assured the public that the fundamentals of the Liberian economy remain stable and strong to support vigorous collection of revenue.

He assured Plenary that the economy was sound amid speculation and that the Ministry of Finance was committed to a vigorous campaign to accelerate revenue generation for the execution of the Government's development agenda, The Agenda for Transformation (AfT). He used the occasion to provide updates on the execution of the fiscal year 2013/2014 National budget. He acknowledged that the late passage of the national budget has had some implication for its implementation and on the macro-economy. Minister Konneh explained that though the draft national budget was submitted to the legislature on time, it was not until the last week of legislative session that the draft FY13/14 was passed and the signed budget did not reach the President until mid-October 2013.

On the overall performance of revenue collection, Minister Konneh said out of $296.5 million estimated to have been collected as of January 18, 2014, the Ministry has collected US$278.8m to date. This leaves a shortfall of US$17.1m as at January 17, 2013. Minister Konneh assured the public that while there is no need to panic, the Ministry of Finance will do everything to ensure that resources, to the extent collectables are collected. According to him, the collection up to date was not a small undertaking, but that it was made possible by hard decisions and many sacrifices made by officials of the Ministry. Meanwhile, the Finance Minister is urging that as his ministry strives to build a more robust economy, with inclusive growth that will build social cohesion and that stakeholder in the private sector and public sectors must be fully engaged in the process of economic development. "That to me is the challenge we face and we must face it together," Minister Konneh declared. Please enable JavaScript to view the comments powered by Disqus.

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