Budget Expenditure Scrutiny Starts Today

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By Leroy M. Sonpon III

The Joint Committee on Ways, Means, Finance and Development Planning, Budget and Public Account of the Senate and the House of Representatives will today, Wednesday, commence Public Hearing on the expenditure component of the draft National Draft Budget of FY 2016/2017.
The Proposed Budget for FY 2016/2017 is US$555.9 million.

The hearing is expected to run from Wednesday, August 3 to Tuesday, August 16 in the William R. Tolbert Joint Chamber of the Capitol.

The revenue component of the 2016/2017 Fiscal Budget ended on Wednesday, July 20, with nearly 30 ministries and agencies of government explaining strategies they wish to employ to raise tax and non-tax revenue for the fiscal period.

According to today’s schedule, beginning at 10:30 a.m., ministries and agencies including Agriculture and Education, as well as the Forestry Development Authority, Environmental Protection Agency and the Monrovia Consolidated School System, are expected to defend their respective annual spending budgets.

The Joint Committee comprises a 15-member Committee of the Senate Ways, Means, Finance and Budget; a 15-member Committee of the House Ways, Means, Finance and Development Planning; and 7-member Committee of the House Public Accounts – totaling 37 members of the Legislature.

The House of Representatives on May 16 received from the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning the draft Liberia National Budget for the Fiscal Year 2016/2017.

Of the amount, according to Finance Minister Boima Kamara, US$30.2 million will come from grants, while US$30.1 million has been set as contingent domestic revenue. He said, however, that the contingency is due to the fact that the Legislature must approve of some measures before these sources are realized.

The draft budget also contains an allotted amount of US$77 million for health, US$83 million for education, while social development gets US$10.5 million. US$20 million is allotted for elections, US$10 million for the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) drawdown, US$5 million for

Agriculture, and US$15 million for road construction. It also allotted US$3 million for road maintenance and US$1.5 million for the rehabilitation of the Roberts International Airport runways.

Over 50 ministries and subsidized institutions are expected to justify proposed appropriations for the pending budget year.

The Chairman of the Joint Committee, Representative Moses Y. Kollie, told the media at the close of the first phase of the review process that the Committee will meticulously ask the necessary questions to ensure that the budget is people-sensitive and meets value for money.

He dispelled rumors that the Committee is bent on passing a “politically motivated budget.”

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