Amid concerns about the delay in the submission of the 2016/2017 National Budget, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has formally communicated to the Legislature that the Budget would be finally submitted on Monday, May 16.
The President’s letter to the House of Representatives, which was read yesterday during the 26th day sitting, did not reveal the amount of the Draft National Budget, the new Austerity Budget and sectors benefitting the most.
However, it is highly anticipated that the security sector would get the largest chunk of the National Budget as the UN Mission UNMIL prepares to leave next month.
Consistent with Section 11.1 of the Public Financial Management Act of 2009, the Chief Executive through the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning submits to the Legislature the National Budget, which would run from July 2016 to June 2017.
Traditionally, the Budget focuses on investing in key areas, including health, education, energy, roads, ports, security and technology, that have the potential for massive social and economic returns to transform the economy.
Quite often, the Draft Budget has called for a period of national sacrifice – a sacrifice that requires greater efficiency in the allocation of available resources – as government combines aggressive revenue generation with careful debt management and scaling up spending in security, energy and the road network.
The Budget would also focus on programs and projects, as the regular costs of running ministries and agencies have been cut drastically and the resulting savings moved into key public investment programs that will benefit the people.
Meanwhile, with the shortage of Liberian dollars on the market, L$55 million is about to be printed leaving many wondering what the total Budget would be.
It may be recalled that the Legislature voted unanimously to pass the National Budget for Fiscal Year 2015/2016 in the amount of US$622, 743, 420, as opposed to the Draft Budget of US$604, 040, 520 originally submitted by the Executive Branch.
An Act to approve the Budget, which was read during a Special Session of the House, states: “It is enacted by the Senate and the House of Representatives in the Legislature to assemble and approve the Budget for the fiscal period beginning July 1, 2015 and ending June 30, 2016 in the amount of L$52, 083, 190, 700, same being US$622, 743, 420.”
The Act authorizes the President to spend and disburse the approved Budget ceiling for Fiscal Year 2015/2016 for the purpose of administering the affairs of the government of Liberia.