9 June 2014

Liberia: Budget 'War' Drags

Disagreement over the placement of the US$73 million for Direct District Development continues to intensify amidst the Executive Branch's submission of the fiscal year 2014/2015 budget to the national Legislature.

The Executive Branch of Liberia has finally submitted the national budget with the Legislature divided over the infusion of the US$73 million in the fiscal budget.

For more than three weeks, the fiscal 2014/2015 budget has been lying dormant at the Legislature due to the resolve of the House of Representatives to add the amount whether or not the Senate concurs.

Members of the House of Representatives have homogeneously consented to move mountain and heaven to ensure that the US$73 million is added to the national budget.

Grand Bassa County Representative, Gabriel B. Smith, has indicated that US$73 million for Direct District Development will come from national budget through re-appropriation and readjustment of items in the budget.

Representative Smith noted that the money will be implemented by the Executive, and it will have direct effect on the lives of the citizens in the various 73 electoral districts of the country.

"We are not adding any new money to the national budget, but the money will be sourced from the fiscal year 2014/2015 budget," the lawmaker asserted.

The Grand Bassa County lawmaker pointed out that local structures and district councils will be involved in the implementation of the projects in the electoral districts.

He stated that despite the Senate's perennial refusal to accept the proposal, they will explore all their constitutional power get the US$73 million passed into law. Representative Smith indicated that the House of Representatives is clothed with the authority to institute or carry out appropriation in the budget separately without the acquiescence of the Senate.

He stressed that the Senate may concur, that its power is permissible, and that it is left with the House of Representatives to either accept the concurrence or pass into law the decision reached.

Representative Smith indicated that the House of Representatives has an exclusive right and authority over the passage of the US$73 million.

He disclosed that the House will carefully exercise its responsibility whether the Senate agrees or not.

The lawmaker of Bassa noted that the US$73 million is different from the County and District Development Funds.

The budget has been crafted with the total of US$559 million being placed in it, which is an opposite of last fiscal year budget.

The last fiscal budget was US$552million and it was enveloped with flaws, shortfalls and deficits.

This year's budget has both borrowing and revenue components which have been highly inflicted. If the needed fiscal prudence is not employed, the path of shortfall will not continue because the government of Liberia's expenditure power is based on revenue intake and collection.

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