23 May 2014

Liberia: Budget Not Submitted - House Speaker

Photo: James M. GarresenII/ Executive Mansion
H.E. President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf(file photo)

The Speaker of the House of Representatives has disclosed that the House is yet to receive the 2014/2015 National Budget as reported by the Executive Mansion and the Finance Ministry in Monrovia on Wednesday.

Speaker Tyler, explaining to his colleagues on the basis of a question about the reported draft budget submission raised by Montserrado County Representative Edward Forh during the House's regular session on Thursday, said the Executive Mansion presented a symbolic copy of the budget, leaving out key documentations that should have accompanied it.

"We have not received the budget yet, as being reported in the media- because what we received is a symbolic copy which does not include key attachments as required by the Public Financial Management Law of 2009," he told his colleagues in session.

The Speaker, also Bomi County Representative, indicated that the Public Financial Management Law of 2009 demands that the Executive Branch, through the Finance Ministry, provides a performance report, as well as a budget cycle to include its First and Second Phases, and gross Basis and coverage of the Budget year.

Other documents required to be provided by the Executive Branch along with the draft National budget also include documents and contents of the proposed budget, the Draft Appropriation Bill, President's budget message, budget call circular/Budget guidelines and index of donor fundings.

Speaker Tyler added that until the President or Finance Minister can make these documents available to the House of Representatives, that body will neither be prepared to commence the budget evaluation nor public hearings, further noting that President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and her cabinet should have submitted the 2014/2015 draft National Budget since April 30, 2014 this year as statutorily required, but kept the budget protractedly for the reasons best known to them.

President Sirleaf submitted a draft National Budget of US$557m for the fiscal year 2014/2015 to the 53rd Legislature- about US$25 million less than the current budget, which elapses by end of June 2014.

The new draft budget cuts millions for official travel expenses, cars, fuel and accommodation. It also limits official foreign travels, as government officials would now be required to fly economy class, while the number of foreign trips will also be limited to three per year, with the exception of the President, Vice President, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Minister of Finance with a limit of no more than five members on any travel party.

According to the Executive Mansion, the new austerity measures enable the government to channel more funds to infrastructure development as set out in the Agenda for Transformation.

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