Executive Submits Delayed US$526.5M Budget

Speaker Nuquay Says Legislature will prioritize roads, safe-drinking water

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Acting Minister for Finance and Development Planning Madam Tanneh Brunson presents 2017/2018 Budget to Speaker J. Emmanuel Nuquay

The long awaited 2017/2018 National Budget, which should have been submitted to the Legislature on April 30, has finally been presented to the national legislature for that august body’s timely consideration. The late submission of the budget by the Executive has been creating some uneasiness in many quarters as the current budget year (2016/2017) has just a little over a month to expire on June 30.

On Monday, May 22, the 2017/2018 fiscal budget was presented to House Speaker J. Emmanuel Nuquay by Deputy Finance Minister for Budget and Development Planning, Tanneh Brunson.

Upon the presentation of the budget, Minister Brunson, currently acting Finance and Developing Planning Minister, said the formulation of the budget has been exceptionally constrained, not only by the impacts of slow post-Ebola economic recovery and unfavorable and domestic macroeconomic conditions, but also by the increasing expenditure demands placed on it.

The Acting Minister said despite these challenges and a constrained fiscal space, the 2017/18 National Budget has been prepared in a framework which addresses critical public expenditure demands as the country faces two major transactions – the 2017 Presidential and Legislative Elections and the UNMIL drawdown.

She indicated that the government remains committed to the delivery of critical public services, as well as the completion of ongoing projects in line with the national development plan (Agenda for Transformation).

The Acting Minister said the total revenue estimate for FY2017/2018 is US$526.5 million – a 12.3% reduction from the US$600.2 million approved for FY2016/17, which reflects a 3.5% decrease on the end-of-year forecast of US$545.5 million.

She said in order to submit a balanced budget the expenditure portfolio is constrained to US$526.5 million and consists of two major segments: Recurrent Expenditure of US$498.9 million or 94.8% and the Public Sector Investment Plan (PSIP) of US$27.5 million or 5.2%.

She explained that the major components comprised of US$31 million for liabilities (debt services), including US$10.8 million to pay off domestic liabilities (debt)-principal and interests, and US$20.2 million for payment of foreign liabilities (debt)-principal and interests.

Others are US$19.8 million for the conduct of the October elections; US$296 million for compensation of employees; US$81.1 million for goods and services, including supplies for education and health; US$3.4 million in subsidies to non-governmental service delivery entities; and US$60.3 million in grants to government service delivery entities.

The Acting Minister further said the Liberian economy, like most in the world, is experiencing some turbulence due in large part to the global economic downturn.

“We are confident that our economy will withstand the tests of the moment and is highly poised to come out stronger than before. However, this will not happen by chance, we will have to make tough decisions in both the short and medium term, not only within the Executive but also in the Legislative and Judicial branches of government,” she said.

“In the short term, we will continue to apply fiscal measures to control expenditure and demonstrate our commitment to the priorities before us…But more importantly, we must continue to lead the charge together in taking practical steps to diversify our economy and insulate it from external shocks of the types we have and continue to experience over the last three years.”

The Acting Minister also added that the budget will require government to continue to make investments in certain critical infrastructure such as electricity and roads, but it also requires that citizens, through private enterprise, take advantage of the opportunities in agriculture, agro-processing and light manufacturing.

Meanwhile, receiving the Budget, Speaker J. Emmanuel Nuquay said the House of Representatives would prioritize roads, safe drinking water, health and education in the 2017/2018 National Budget.

The Speaker said these four priorities stemmed from a Development Focus Survey and would be points of focus to disabuse the minds of Liberians that the Legislators are ‘self-interested’ in the Budget process.

The Speaker, meanwhile, expressed his disappointment over the delay of the Budget, arguing that by law, it should have been submitted on April 30.

He indicated that despite the procrastination, the Budget could be passed in a timely manner, and be used by July 1 if the Legislature gets the desired cooperation from the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning.

“We would like to encourage that every member of the Legislature receive a copy of the 2017/2018 Draft Budget to help with the speedy passage,” the Speaker said.

The Budget is expected to be included in today (Tuesday’s) agenda and subsequently be turned over to the Ways, Means, Finance and Development Planning and Public Accounts Committees to begin scrutiny.

For a speedy passage, there will likely be a Joint Budget Hearing of both the House of Representatives and the Senate.

8 COMMENTS

  1. According to a recent article written for “the perspective.org” by Contributor and Student Activist Mr. M.N Kollie, IMF boss Ms Christine Lagarde says, “Liberia and every Liberian could prosper if public finance is managed in the most disciplined way”.

    This suggests that it is the indisciplined “way” by which “public finance” has been “managed” responsible for the failure of the country and people to “prosper”, not the belabored spin of “post – Ebola economic recovery”, blah blah blah.

    What amazes many Liberians is the cynicism of a political leadership that doesn’t seem to care whether citizens believe the excuses, or not. For instance, even high school children know that a third of annual budget is allocated to bonanza salaries and compensation packages for about few hundred public servants while millions of their fellow citizens undergo life – denying poverty for lack of opportunities.

    The logical question is, why continue to hoodwink the people? And the plausible answer from the rulers boils down to: What you see is what you get, period. Anyway, make no mistake, folks, the I – don’t – care – attitude to managing scant revenues puts the nation at risk. Not to mention that some members of the governing elites have deluded themselves into the false security that they would rather manage the risks than effectively manage the nation’s wealth.

  2. There you go, that’s what happens when huge expenditures/ payments are made outside legislative controls, and other established financial accounting processes.

    Undeniably, our nation’s perennial economic backwardness is the unhinged resistance to financial transparency and accountability of any sort by the powers that be, which makes the current clamorous claims to democracy just idle boasts. No wonder, Liberia is at the crossroads between anarchy, and a police state under Iron Lady Mrs. Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. But that’s not a popular observation because nearly all the who’s who among our brightest and best are beneficiaries of her arbitrary, and unethical rule.

  3. I wish that this budget if realized could have a positive impact on us Liberian as over the years it has only enriched the corrupt few. This budget will not be good enough if it do not have a trigger down effect! It need to reflect our needs and not the few want, my people and by the way….what is in it for genuine development?

  4. Well, Liberians were deceived to believe that the person who brought the destruction of war on
    Liberia should be the one they should put in office so that she will fix the country; especially when
    she authorized Charles Taylor, her executioner of the war, to bury Monrovia to the ground and she
    will fix it or rebuild it. Not thinking, of course, that there were gallant Liberian soldiers, dominant
    among them were the Krahns. If the Liberian Budget is managed with discipline and honestly, all
    Liberians will be prosper. That is observation of Harvey student Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf. Did she
    listen to her colleague Christine Largarde or she will go managing her Budget in the way and manner
    she pleases. Thus Liberia is really suffering under Ellonomic, not the way her colleague sees it.

  5. P. Allison Tarlue, Sr. May 23, 2017 at 9:41 pm

    Well, Liberians were deceived to believe that the person who brought the destruction of war on
    Liberia should be the one they should put in office so that she will fix the country; especially when
    she authorized Charles Taylor, her executioner of the war, to bury Monrovia to the ground and she
    will fix it or rebuild it. Not thinking, of course, that there were gallant Liberian soldiers, dominant
    among them were the Krahns. If the Liberian Budget is managed with discipline and honestly, all
    Liberians will be prosper. That is observation of Harvey student Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf’s colleague.
    Did she listen to her colleague Christine Largarde or she will go managing her Budget in the way and manner she pleases. Thus Liberia is really suffering under Ellonomic, not the way her colleague sees it.

  6. “Recovery from the Ebola epidemic is delayed by the persistent impact of the commodity price decline and the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) withdrawal. Weak economic activity—particularly in the natural resource sector—is affecting government revenues, while spending is under pressure from the cost of elections and security handover from UNMIL.” IMF

  7. Obviously, this is a hardship budget; for a NATION, the size of Liberia with a Population of 4.5million people. In terms of today’s DOLLARS, that’s very little MONEY. Liberia can no longer afford to pay Law Makers and other Top Officials such HIGH SALARIES. It’s simply beyond Liberia’s means.

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