Liberia: House Concerned about Delay in Submission of 2024 Budget

Speaker of the House of Representatives, J. Fonati Koffa and his deputy, Thomas P. Fallah

The House of Representatives has instructed its Chief Clerk to write to the Minister of Finance and Development Planning, Boima Kamara, to inquire about the “extreme delay” in the submission of the 2024 National Budget.

The House, from whence all bills for raising revenue shall originate, voted unanimously on Thursday, February 29 to ensure that the Finance Minister is engaged so that the Lawmakers can be informed whether there is any hurdle that is impeding progress on the submission of the budget

About 34 days ago, Thursday, January 25th, the House of Representatives unanimously voted to return the 2024 National Draft Budget submitted by former President George Weah to newly inducted President Joseph N. Boakai, for realignment with the new government’s development agenda. 

In the spirit of collaboration, the House’s decision aimed to allow President Boakai to tailor the budget to his ARREST agenda, which involves incentives for agriculture and access to appropriate technologies for farmers, as well as improve market and trade, food storage, and processing, among others. 

The “ARREST” (Agriculture, Roads, Rule of Law, Education, Sanitation, Tourism), the development trajectory President Boakai has set for his administration. 

The returned budget was US$782.9 million, though it was later recast at US$759.4 million.

The delay of the 2024 Budget since its return is causing members of the House of Representatives to voice their concerns, especially with 14 days to their first Constituency break, which is expected to begin on the 3rd Friday in March, the 15th instant. 

The lawmakers’ concerns were stated in a communication to President Boakai, reminding him about the delay in the submission of the 2024 National Budget. 

The House’s decision was prompted by a communication from Bong County District #6 Representative, Moima Briggs Mensah. 

“I crave the indulgence of the Honorable House of Representatives to invite before this august body the Minister of Finance and Development Planning to explain the reasons for the delay in the submission of the 2024 National Fiscal Budget. 

“Hon. Speaker and Colleagues, resulting out of a communication from the Co. Chair on Ways, Means and Finance Committee, Ellen Attoh Wreh and in the spirit of coordination, the House of Representatives unanimously voted to send back [the] 2024 National Fiscal Budget to the Executive for proper adjustment and realignment to suit the President’s 100 days deliverables and ARREST platform for the collective achievement of our nation but, unfortunately, the ministry has ignored the Thursday, February 15th, 2024 mandatory date associated with the submission of the budget as communicated to the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning by the House of Representatives.” 

The chairman of the House‘s Ways, Means and Finance Committee, Dixon Seboe, said: “It seems that we may be facing a crisis soon, as my interpretation of the law regarding the usage of one-twelfth tells us that we cannot continue to use that.

“The real issue with this is that we have already exhausted an allowance of 41.3 million (which is two-twelfths), and if we are unable to give the government any more money, the public may begin to think that the Legislature wants the government to shut down,” Rep. Seboe said.