Upon instructions from President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, and consistent with Section 11(1) of the Public Financial Management (PFM) Act of 2009, the Minister of Finance and Development Planning (MFDP), Boima S. Kamara, has submitted the Draft National Budget for 2016/2017 of US$555.9 million, comprising of US$495.5 million for Core Domestic Revenue; US$30.2 million as Grant; and US$30.1 million as Contingent Domestic Revenue.
The contingency, according to Minister Kamara, is due to the fact that the National Legislature must approve of some measures before these sources can be realized.
“This is why I have come today to present you this Proposed Budget which we believe outlines and captures our country’s priorities in the best possible way given the constraints which I have briefly outlined earlier.
“We have endeavored to keep social spending and health at US$77 million; education at US$83 million; and social development spending at 10.5 million,” said Minister Kamara.
Additionally, the government has allocated US$20 million toward elections; US$10 million for UNMIL’s drawdown; US$5 million for agriculture; US$15 million on road construction; US$3 million for the Road Maintenance Fund; and US$1.5 million toward the airport runway rehabilitation.
“By no measures are these amounts enough to handle the issues mentioned but at this point this is what we can afford. What we have done in this budget is to prepare an Unfunded Contingent Envelop of US$140 million which considers a number of key investments that will help to diversify and grow the economy. We intend, with your approval, to seek donor funding either in grants or loans to help underwrite these expenditures,” Minister Kamara noted.
With these summaries, “I wish to thank you and on behalf of the President, submit to you the Proposed Budget for the Fiscal Year 2016/2017 and also assure you that my team and I will be available to provide additional information and clarification needed to finalize the budget,” Minister said.
The newly confirmed MFDP boss said that the slowness of economic recovery from the shocks of Ebola coupled with the global decline in commodity prices which have affected two primary export commodities, iron ore and rubber, have placed severe strains on Liberia’s resource envelop.
Compounding this further, he said the country’s expenditure demand has come under pressure from the need to prepare for the 2017 elections as well as support for the security forces to take over from UNMIL, which has already begun to draw down.
“These are imperatives which we cannot compromise as governance and security will provide the space we need in order to conduct other businesses,” he noted.
Under these conditions, the Minister said it was extremely difficult to balance the budget and that was why an extension was necessary. “I am sure that during the budget hearings, your team will get a better appreciation of what I am alluding to.”