Monrovia — The Legislature is reviewing the draft National Budget for Fiscal Year 2020-2021 presented by the Executive with the expectation that the lawmakers will now begin to cite heads of revenue generating entities to understand the justifications behind the US$535 million projection, said Assistant Finance Minster of Budget, Jesse Korboi.
Korboi told Legislative reporters that the Executive believes that the draft instrument is realistic enough to address the current issues that the government deems to be top national priorities.
For instance, he mentioned, there's US$26 million in the draft budget for road infrastructure, like the building of new roads and rehabilitating old ones.
In the same vein, Korboi revealed that an additional US$3 million has been directed towards the rehabilitation of the Junk River Bridge that links Monrovia to the Roberts International Airport.
Other priority issues named are health, the expansion of electricity supply to communities, and education.
In the meantime, the holding of the December 8, 2020 mid-term senatorial election is said to be the most urgent priority that the budget seeks to address when passed by the Legislature, having done their scrutiny of1 it, said Minister Korboi.
"The numbers placed in the draft budget are as reliable as possible. They are based on the prevailing circumstances of the economy. But in the event where something impacts the performance of the economy; however, it would impact those numbers that are projected in our forecast," Korboi explained.
Budget shortfalls, in past times, are said to be caused by "over-ambition" in the forecast by revenue generating entities but thankfully that did not happen in FY2019-2020.
So, Korboi indicated that while some unforeseen fiscal issues of national significance may arise and land the government into unexpected spending during the implementation stage of the Budget; "We are going to try to do everything possible to ensure that the economy gets better."
The Finance Ministry has been partnering with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to minimize, if not eradicate, the age-old issue of budget shortfall, said Korboi.
In the interview, the Assistant Minister categorically dismissed reports of increment in "compensation numbers" for public sector workers by the government. "There is no increase in the compensation numbers," he said.
He then clarified also that before the Government was admitted into the IMF program aimed at restoring macroeconomic stability, putting Liberians on fiscally sustainable path of growth, and addressing weaknesses in governance and public institutions, the compensation (remuneration) figure was about US$317 million per year.
But after the enrollment, he added, the number reduced to US$297 million for last year "and that this year, the government is projecting US$291 million - a further reduction."
Korboi lamented that the 'reality' that revenue generation remains a challenge in the country "because the tax rate is very low and as such, there is need for taxpayers to effectively pay their taxes in order to buttress government's effort.
"When people pay their taxes," Korboi stressed, "it enables the Government get the needed revenue for the betterment of the country."