Liberia: 'U.S.$200k Inadequate for Govt Hospital in Buchanan'

-- Rep. Joe requests for 100 percent increment

Grand Bassa County District #3 Representative Matthew Joe, has told members of the House of Representatives that the US$200,000 allotted in the 2019/2020 Draft Budget is 'inadequate' for the running of operations of the Liberian government Hospital in Buchanan, Grand Bassa County.

Joe has therefore appealed for 100 percent increment to save more lives. He chairs the House's committee on Public Works.

In a communication to House Speaker Bhofal Chambers, which was read on Wednesday, September 11, 2019 during the 8th day Special Sitting, the Grand Bassa County lawmaker said the that the hospital serves as a referral center and addresses the health needs of the people of River Cess, Sinoe and River Gee counties respectively.

In an appealing letter, Rep. Joe indulged his colleagues to "kindly see reason to increase the hospital's budget line."

"Currently as per the draft budget, the hospital has US$200,000 which, in my mind, is infinitesimal for a hospital with enormous challenges," Rep. Joe said.

He added: "As you may recall on April 6 and 29, 2018, fire gutted the only referral hospital in Grand Bassa County, thus causing colossal damage to the properties, including the mortuary, five generators as well as the outpatient department (OPD) due to fire disaster," Rep. Joe said in his letter to his colleagues.

He then reminded his colleagues that they have the constitutional authority in consonance with Article 34d of the 1986 Constitution to make appropriation for the hospital to effectively function.

Article 34d states: To levy taxes, duties, imports, exercise and other revenues, to borrow money, issue currency,

mint coins, and to make appropriations for the fiscal governance of the Republic, subject to:

(i) all revenue bills, whether subsidies, charges, imports, duties or taxes, and other financial bills, shall originate in the House of Representatives, but the Senate may propose or concur with amendments as on other bills. No other financial charge shall be established, fixed, laid or levied on any individual, community or locality under any pretext whatsoever except by the expressed consent of the individual, community or locality. In all such cases, a true and correct account of funds collected shall be made to the community or locality;

(ii) no monies shall be drawn from the treasure except in consequence of appropriations made by legislative enactment and upon warrant of the President; and no coin shall be minted or national currency issued except by the expressed authority of the Legislature. An annual statement and account of the expenditure of all public monies shall be submitted by the office of the President to the Legislature and published once a year;

(iii) no loans shall be raised by the Government on behalf of the Republic or guarantees given for

any public institutions or authority otherwise than by or under the authority of a legislative enactment.

Shortly afterward, the House Plenary voted unanimously to have the Representative's communication sent to the Committees on Ways, Means, Finance and Development Planning and Health to act accordingly.

In another development, the lawmakers are expected to approve the 2019/2020 Budget on today (Thursday), September 12 during which, the Lower House will hopefully close its Second Sitting after a two-week extension from President George Weah expired.

Today's adjournment is to enable lawmakers participate in the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Parliament second extraordinary series of activities held from Thursday, September 12 to Sunday, September 21, 2019.

The scrutiny of the revenue and expenditure components of the 2019/2020 National Budget of US$532 million began on July 30, 2019 and ended on August 30, 2019.

Since then, the Budget has been in the Joint Committee room comprised of members of the Ways, Means, Finance and Budget and the Public Account and Expenditure of both Houses (Representatives and Senate).

Subsequently, the Senate is expected to concur with the House of Representatives on Friday, September 21, before it formally adjourned for the Second Sitting.

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