Amid his concerns over whether revenue collection can support 2019-2020 National Budget
House Speaker Bhofal Chambers said he is worried over the continuance of revenue collection to support the country’s budget, indicating that there is a need for reform of some of the existing ‘Old Order Laws’ to improve the national economy.
Chambers spoke against the backdrop of the looming bad economy of the country, as evidenced by the slow-paced of payments to the more than 47,000 civil servants, as well as the extreme backlog of international and domestic debts (or commitments) otherwise known as national debt and other liabilities that the government owes.
Among the many ways to improve the economy and support the budget, Speaker Chambers said that the ‘Old Order Laws,’ which he ultimately termed as ‘bad laws’, must be amended or repealed in some of the sectors, including Mining, Fisheries and Forestry (logging), to improve the regulations to pave way for new and effective profit-sharing laws to support the budget annually and comparably to other countries.
Chambers, who represents Maryland County District #2 on the ticket of the Congress for Democratic Change (CDC), says the 2019/2020 draft budget in the tune of US$532 million is inadequate to build modern infrastructures.
Given the Speaker’s remark, many Liberians are waiting to see whether the ‘bad laws’ he referenced will be reviewed and amended beginning the 54th Legislature’s third sitting, which begins in January 2020, seeing as the second sitting of the august body will end on August 30, 2019.
Sources said the ongoing revenue component of the 2019/2020 Budget in the tune of US$532 million, which started on Tuesday, July 30 and is expected to end Friday, August 9, is getting sticky on the Legislature’s Joint Budget Committee to identify sources to avoid a shortfall.
According to the schedule, over 40 governmental revenue generating entities are expected to appear in closed-door hearings, but the revenue component might continue up to Wednesday, August 14, to reconcile the commitments from all the revenue generating entities before commencing the expenditure component of the 2019/2020 budget.
Speaker Chambers noted that 40% of the national budget of the Republic of Botswana is supported by mining, while the Republic of Liberia gets only 3% from mining, despite its abundance of natural resources in almost all the counties.
He said that Indonesia, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Chile, Vietnam, and China benefit “very hugely” from the fishing sector, while Canada, and USA get large supports from the logging (forestry) sector, and that those supports are manifesting in their respective economies.
The Speaker made the remarks during a formal welcome program held in the Banquet Hall of the Legislature on Tuesday, August 6, 2019, upon his return from the U.S.
He recently attended the Inter Parliament Union (IPU) assembly in the U.S. for the first time to the U.S. since he became a lawmaker in 2006.
While in the U.S., Speaker Chambers participated in the IPU assembly, hosted at the United Nations Headquarters in New York, as well as the bi-partisan forum of Democrat and Republican lawmakers to the United States Congress in Washington, headed by Congress Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
Speaker Chambers also attended a meeting of Liberians residing in Silver Spring, the State of Maryland.
Some of the discussions included the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Growing Inequality, the Critical Role of Law Reform, and Good Governance.
Meanwhile, the Maryland Patriotic Students Movement (MAPASM) in collaboration with Citizens Action Committee presented a gift to the Speaker for his “successful travel.”