Monrovia — In keeping with the constitution of Liberia the Executive Branch of government has submitted to the Legislature the fiscal year draft budget 2017/2018 in the tune of US$ 526.6 million which account for 12.3 % reduction from 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 presented two weeks behinds schedule shows 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 presented to the legislature, tax revenue of US$393.6 Million is decreased by 8.8 percent from the approved amount for FY2016/17 budget with non-tax revenue of US$90.2 Million with US$ 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 estimated 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 Ministry also told lawmakers during the draft budget presentation Monday that contingent Revenue of US$4.8 million will be sourced from government domestic revenue streams, driven by 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 of 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 US20.2 million for the payment of foreign liabilities, principal and interest.
Also in the draft budget 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 has in it US$3.4 million in subsidies to non-governmental Service delivery entities and US60.3 million in grants to government service delivery entities.
Making presentation of the Budget Monday, acting Finance Minister Tanneh Brumson said, the economy of Liberia like most in the world is experiencing some turbulence due in large part to the global economic downturn.
Brumson said: "We are confident that our economy will withstand the tests of the moment and is highly poised to come out stronger than before.
"However, this will not happen by chance; we will have to make tough decisions in both the short and medium term, not only within the executive but also in the legislative judicial branches of government."
The Acting finance minister assured lawmakers that the Finance Ministry is applying fiscal measures to control expenditure and demonstrate to its partners their commitment to the priorities before attracting their support.
She called on lawmakers to continue to lead the charge together in taking practical steps to diversify the economy and insulate it from external shocks of the types available to government and continue to experience over the last three years.
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.
"It is our prayer that the required copies will be presented to the legislature as soon as possible."
"We are aware that this year 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 follow 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.