17 August 2017

Liberia: Ellen Signs 2017/2018 Budget Into Law

Photo: Liberia Government
President Ellen Sirleaf.

The 2017/2018 Fiscal Budget in the amount of US$563.6m as submitted by the Legislature has become law following its approval and printing into handbills by President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.

The President signed the budget on July 27, 2017. The handbills were printed on July 31. This is the 12th and last budget passed by President Sirleaf, as her two-term tenure ends on January 16, 2018.

The House of Representatives passed the budget on July 18 following weeks of thorough scrutiny and public hearings by the Joint Committee, comprising of Ways, Means, Finance, and Development Planning as well as Public Account and Expenditure. On July 21, the Liberian Senate concurred with the House of Representatives.

BACKGROUND

On 21 May, the Executive Branch in keeping with the constitution of Liberia submitted to the Legislature the 2017/2018 draft budget in the amount of US$ 526.6 million which was a 12.3 % reduction of the US$600.2 million approved for FY 2016/2017 reflecting 3.5% decrease on the end of year forecast of US$545.5 million.

The budget which was presented two weeks behind schedule, showed that the total revenue envelope comprised of US$483.7 million in revenue raised from domestic sources (Taxes and non-tax revenue).

In the budget, tax revenue of US$393.6 million was decreased by 8.8 percent from the approved amount for FY2016/17 budget with non-tax revenue of US$90.2 million and US$37.9 million in grants from external sources and US$4.8 million in contingent revenue from domestic resources.

The budget also shows that Non-Tax revenue of US$90.2 is projected to decrease by 8.2 percent compared to the US$98.3 million that was approved in the FY-2016/2017 budget.

This, according to the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning, is an improvement to the current year-end estimate and is driven by anticipated increase in petroleum storage fees, forestry, mineral mining, cellular mobile networks, as well as expected improvements in state owned entities (SOEs) like Liberia Petroleum Refining company, National Port Authority and others.

The Acting Minister also told lawmakers during the draft budget presentation that contingent Revenue of US$4.8 million will be sourced from government domestic revenue streams, driven by an increment in international trade and forestry.

In the draft budget, the expenditure portfolio is constrained to US$526.5 million and consists of two major segments; recurrent investment plan (PSIP) of US$27.5 million or 5.2 percent.

The major components of expenditure for FY2017/18 include US$31 million for liabilities (debt services), US$10 Million for payment of domestic liabilities (debt) principal and interests and US$20.2 million for the payment of foreign liabilities, principal and interest.

Also in the draft budget was US$19.8 million for the conduct of the October 2017 Presidential and Legislative elections, US$296 million for compensation of employees, US$ 81.1 million for goods and services including supplies for education and health.

The draft budget also included US$3.4 million in subsidies to non-governmental Service delivery entities and US$60.3 million in grants to government service delivery entities.

Receiving the budget on behalf of the legislature, House Speaker Emmanuel Nuquay thanked the Finance Ministry for making what he called a symbolic presentation of the budget but said the presentation, by law, should have been made on April 30 accusing the Ministry of being a month late.

"We are aware that this is election year and to provide funding for the elections means we need to ensure that this budget is passed in a timely manner."

"We will also ensure that development programs that should be executed by President Sirleaf before the end of her term are implemented. We are inclined to do that."

Our Development Focus Survey conducted by the Legislature shows that the number one priority of the people of Liberia are roads followed by safe drinking water and health.

Doing these things, the Speaker believes, will help promote the image of the Legislature contrary to public perception that the Legislature is a bunch of people who only think of themselves.

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