Monrovia — A local civil society group, Action for Liberia's Development (ALiD), says it is deeply concerned by the persistent delays in the submission of the country's financial instrument - the national budget. Since its delayed submission, hearing on the draft budget is yet to commence.
ALiD said it has observed that over the past two years, submission of the draft budgets to the House of Representatives has been delayed for not less than two months thus leaving the august body with insufficient time to rigorously scrutinize the budget.
The group believes managers of the country's financial envelop should take due cognizance of the stipulated timeline for the submission of the draft budget as enshrined in the Constitution to enable the Legislature to conduct a critical examination of the country's purse.
Additionally, the group says it has also observed that parallel to delay in the budget submission, the executive branch has consistently failed to submit the framework paper of the draft national budget.
Not only is the draft budget submitted late and the framework paper not submitted at all, according to the group, but the national legislature has also refused to compel spending entities to submit quarterly reports on expenditure - a violation of the Public Financial Management Law (PFML).
"As required by the constitution of Liberia, the draft budget for the succeeding fiscal year should be submitted on April 30, but this has not been the case since the inception of the current regime. Liberia's fiscal calendar begins July 1 and ends June 30," the Group said in a statement issued in Monrovia.
The group furthered that the country has key national priority issues including the conduct of the impending Special Senatorial Elections (SSE) and the national referendum, which execution is contingent upon the passage of the budget.
"As a pathway to addressing the constant budget delays, ALiD is recommending that the 54th National Legislature convenes a joint hearing that will bring together relevant institutions including the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning (MFDP), Liberia Revenue Authority (LRA), past government officials of those entities and civil society organizations to proffer recommendations that will change the culture of delayed budget submission," the statement added.
Meanwhile, ALiD is urging the Legislature to begin practical reform of the first branch of government in order to bring dignity to the body. Though House Speaker Dr. Bhofal Chambers and Senate Pro Tempore Albert Chie have assured comprehensive rebranding, it's only on the lips, the CSO alleged, while calling on the Legislature to fund the establishment of a website for the publication of key legislations for public access.