Liberia: 58 Institutions in Imposed Cut Expenditure Hearings

-As Other Receiving Agencies to submit FUP Report to Budget Office

At the end of the secretive Revenue Hearings on the 2019/2020 National Budget on Capitol Hill on Monday, August 13, in which officials remain tight-lipped as to how much of the US$532 million expenditure would be underwritten by State-Owned Enterprises (SOEs), the Joint Budget, Public Accounts, Expenditure and Audit Committee of the 54th Legislature has yet to officially announce the beginning of the public hearings on the Expenditure Component. In the Expenditure Component, at least 58 governmental agencies are expected to begin defending their respective 'cut budgetary allotments.'

The defense of the expenditure of each governmental agency will be informed by spending in the 2018/2019 Budget, which will ultimately determine whether their proposed allotments should be maintained, increased or cut in the 2019/2020 Budget.

The remaining unnamed receiving institutions will submit Fund Utilization Performance (FUP) Reports to the Legislative Bureau Office, including office of Budget, Grants and Loans.

The expenditure component of the 2019/2020 budget hearings, which are usually public, will be held in the Joint Chambers of the Legislature at the Capitol, from 10 .a.m - 5:30 p.m. daily.

"All heads of invited institutions and technicians are expected to be present, on time and bring along at least 50 copies of their 2018/2019 expenditure reports. The media, civil society organizations and the general public are invited, but the schedule on the expenditure hearing has been on hold until further advice from the Joint Budget, Public Accounts, Expenditure and Audit Committee of the 54th Legislature," the House Press Director, Isaac G. Redd, told journalists on Monday, August 12.

"The formal start of the expenditure hearing will be announced soon," Mr. Redd noted. However, the tentative schedule of the beginning of the expenditure hearing should have begun August 13, but was later deferred to a later date.

The Daily Observer has gathered from anonymous sources that there would be further austerity measures, which will sharply affect the provision of basic services across the country. However, many are concerned that the "Weahism" approach should not focus on merely reducing government spending, but should also fix and improve the 'rotten economic policy,' to include the tackling of the high exchange rates, the steeply rise of commodity prices in the markets and payments of civil servants and domestic debts.

It may be recalled that at least 40 governmental revenue-generating entities testified in the revenue component of the 2019/2020 Budget from Tuesday, July 30 to Monday, August 12, 2019 in closed-door hearings.

According to the postponed schedule of the expenditure hearing, institutions are expected to appear in their respective groupings beginning Tuesday, August 20. The first group includes the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning, LRA, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, LISGIS, Civil Service Agency, General Service Agency, MICAT and CNDRA, while on Wednesday; the Ministry of Health, John F. Kennedy Memorial Hospital, Phebe Hospital, Jackson F. Doe Hospital and the NPHIL.

Subsequent groups are expected to follow on consecutive days to be announced:

The Ministry of Agriculture, LACRA, CARI and the Rubber Development Fund will appear and on Friday the invited institutions are Ministry of Education, University of Liberia, MCSS, William V. S. Tubman University, WAEC and BWI;

The Ministry of Public Works, Liberia Broadcasting System, Ministry of Post & Telecommunication, Ministry of Transport, Liberia Airport Authority and the National Housing Authority;

The Ministry of Youth & Sports, LACE and Ministry of Gender, Children & Social Protection;

The Judiciary, Ministry of National Defense, National Security Agency, National Drugs Enforcement Agency, Liberia National Police, Liberia Immigration Services, Liberia National Fire Service and the Independent National Human Rights Commission;

The Ministry of Mines & Energy, Forestry Development Authority, WASH Commission, Water & Sewer and LEC;

The Ministry of Internal Affairs, National Identification Registry, Monrovia City Corporation and National Disaster Management Agency will appear including the General Auditing Commission, National Election Commission, Public Procurement & Concession Commission, Internal Audit Agency and the LACC;

The National Investment Commission, Ministry of Commerce & Industry, Ministry of Labor and the National Bureau of Concession will appear to end the exercises of the 2019/2020 Budget.

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