Liberia: Boakai Avoids Gov’t Shutdown, Signs US$41.3M Spending Bill

President Joseph N. Boakai 

Liberia: Boakai Avoids Gov’t Shutdown, Signs US$41.3M Spending Bill

—Writes House of Representatives for Approval

President Joseph Boakai on Wednesday signed a US$41.3 million spending bill that will keep the government functional and afloat till the end of February 2024. This move is intended to avoid a shutdown.The top priorities in February’s spending bill include compensation or salaries for government employees, which constitutes US$26 million (63%); Debt Servicing, US$5.7 million (14%); the president’s 100-day deliverables agenda, US$1,941,210 (5%); and other goods and services, US$2,014,000 (5%).

However, the President’s submission of the US$41.3 million spending bill is a swift reaction to an imminent shutdown of the government due to the lack of a current operational budget. In December 2023, outgoing President George M. Weah submitted the 2024 budget, but members of the 54th House of Representatives voted that deliberation around the budget and its passage should be done by members of the 55th Legislature, who were just a month away.

The new legislators later voted unanimously that the 2024 budget be returned to the Executive in order for the newly inducted President to include priorities that could align with his agenda. Since then, the 2024 budget is yet to be resubmitted to the Legislature for passage.

It was against this backdrop and in an effort to avoid a shutdown of the government in settling the salaries of civil servants and operations of the three branches, that the President signed the US$41.3 million spending bill, which is one-twelfth of the 2023 budget. The President is therefore seeking the indulgence of the lawmakers for approval of the emergency budget.

Meanwhile, also key in the budget are Security Operations (non-wage expenditure) US$1,250,000.00; Armed Forces Day US$100,000; Food and Catering (hospitals, prisons, barracks, etc.) US$9,995,500; Office Supplies US$679,446; Fuel and Lubricants US$547,889; Janitorial/ Supplies or Services US$750,00; Electricity $250,000; Water US$100,000; Travels (exceptional circumstances) US$200,000; Ministry of State US$188,000; Vice President’s Office Goods and Services US$28,500; Judiciary Goods and Services US$96,655; Senate Goods and Services US$150,000; and House of Representatives Goods and Services US$250,000.

The President has forwarded the US$41.3 million spending bill to Speaker Cllr. J. Fonati Koffa of the House of Representatives for approval.

“In view of the above, we are seeking authorization to spend the amount of US$41,300,000.00 as reflected in the detailed attachment. This amount will cover government operations for the month of
February 2024.”

The House’s Plenary Thursday voted unanimously for the Committees of Ways, Means, and Development Planning and Public Account and Expenditure and report within one week.