Today, the 53rd Legislature, the House of Representatives and the Liberian Senate, is expected to past their sixth (6th) and final annual national budget – the 2017/2018 – at US$562m.
The Budget will be concomitantly approved in their separate and respective Chamber with health and security reportedly taking the lion share, according to the Joint Ways, Means, Finance & Budget Chairman, Rep. Prince Moye.
According to the Bong County District # 2 and Unity Party (UP) Representative, health will be taking US$60 million of the total budget.
In keeping with the Constitution of Liberia, the Executive branch of government has submitted to the Legislature the fiscal year draft budget 2017/2018 in the tune of US$ 526.6 million, a 12.3 % reduction from the previous year’s budget which was passed at US$ 600.2 million but reflected a 3.5% decrease on the end of year forecast of US$545.5 million.
The budget was presented two weeks behind schedule with a total revenue envelope comprising US$483.7 million in revenue raised from domestic sources (tax and non-tax revenue).
In the budget presented to the Legislature, tax revenue of US$393.6 Million is decreased by 8.8 percent from the approved amount for an FY2016/17 budget with non-tax revenue of US$90.2 million with US$37.9 million in grants from external sources and US$4.8 million in contingent revenue from domestic resources.
The budget also shows that non-tax revenue of US$90.2 is projected to decrease by 8.2 percent compared to the US$98.3 million that was approved in the FY-2016/2017 budget.
According to the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning (MFDP) this is an improvement to the current year-end estimate and is driven by anticipated increase in petroleum storage fees, forestry, mineral mining, cellular mobile networks, as well as expected improvements in state-owned entities (SOEs) like Liberia Petroleum Refining company, National Port Authority and others.
The Ministry also told lawmakers during the draft budget presentation Monday that contingent Revenue of US$4.8 million will be sourced from government domestic revenue streams, driven by an increment in international trade and forestry.
In the draft budget presented, the expenditure portfolio was constrained to US$526.5 million and consists of two major segments; recurrent investment plan (PSIP) of US$27.5 million of 5.2 percent.
The major components of expenditure for FY2017/18 include; US$31 million for liabilities (debt services), US$10 Million for payment of domestic liabilities (debt) principal and interests and US20.2 million for the payment of foreign liabilities, principal, and interest.
Also in the draft budget, US$19.8 million was allotted for the conduct of the October 2017 Presidential and legislative elections, US$296 million for compensation of employees, US$81.1 million for goods and services including supplies for education and health.
The draft budget also has in it US$3.4 million in subsidies to non-governmental Service delivery entities and US$60.3 million in grants to government service delivery entities.
Making a presentation of the Budget Monday, acting Finance Minister Tanneh Brunson said the economy of Liberia, like most in the world, is experiencing some turbulence due in large part to the global economic downturn.