The Deputy Minister for Fiscal Affairs at the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning (MFDP), Dr. James F. Kollie, has disclosed that Liberia’s debts have reduced from 4.9 billion to 500 million United States dollars.
At a press briefing held yesterday at the Ministry of Information, Cultural Affairs and Tourism in Monrovia, Dr. Kollie explained that the debt, which was reduced, continued to increase due to additional facilities by government.
“Most of the resources are no longer free money but the concessional part of it is that no interest rate or sometimes only 2% interest rate is charged for over 40 years, he explained.
Dr. Kollie stated that the budget for 2015 July to 2016 June has been estimated at US$604 million and a little over 465 million dollars would be raised from domestic revenue collected, including taxes.
Projecting a budget of US$56 million less than the proposed US$660 million earlier, was believed to be the best economic policy for Liberia’s post-Ebola recovery plan.
According to him, the social benefit from companies is estimated at US$14 million, naming Arcelor Mittal, which is expected to provide US$3 million as social benefit.
The biggest debate, he added was over the US$150 million earmarked for travel, scratch cards and other expenses for government officials.
According to him, the US$604 million has been broken down into eleven sectors, including agriculture, security and rule of law. The other sectors include education, energy environment, health industry and commerce, infrastructure, public administration.
He explained that the education sector, health and security are the most prioritized sectors of the budget for 2015 to 2016 with the budget for salaries totaling a little over US$250 million.
This budget, particularly relating to the education sector, is intended to address some of the challenges facing this sector, referencing the Booker Washington Institute (BWI), Tubman University in Maryland County and other colleges around the country.
“We will have people living on the BWI campus and at the same time people attending as day students. We provided US$1 million,” Dr. Kollie stated. We also put in some money for bilateral scholarships for their regular stipend because we owed for six months,” he added.
Dr. Kollie further disclosed that US$1 million has been placed in the budget for the beach workers. We are expected to go into negotiations in order to drop some of the workers in order to continue the cleaning of the beaches.
He emphasized that the budget is not money sitting in the bank but rather an estimate of what the Ministry thinks it will collect and how it will be spent.