The House of Representatives voted unanimously on Tuesday, May 2, to send the 2018/2019 Budget in the tone of US$562.4 million to the Joint Committee on Ways, Means, Finance and Development Planning and the Public Account and Expenditure Committee to begin scrutiny.
The House’s Budget Committee was given one month to scrutinize the 2018/2019 Budget and report to plenary.
Also, the Liberian senate has mandated its Committees on Ways, Means, Finance and Budget as well as Public Accounts & Audit to collaborate with the House of Representatives to have a Joint Budget Committee, which will lead to a speedy budget public hearing in compliance with the constitution, because revenue generation devolves upon the House of Representatives.
The decision of the legislature to begin scrutinizing the budget is in consonance with the Public Financial Law, following a submission to the House of Representatives and the Liberian Senate on Monday by Finance Minister Samuel Tweah.
According to the summary of the 2018/2019 Budget, the expenditure is subdivided into two categories, recurrent expenditure of US$488.7 million or 87 percent and US$73.4 million or 13 percent for Public Sector Investment Plan (PSIP).
The recurrent expenditure, which is primarily used to fund government’s administrative and routine operational cost, is expected to comprise of the following: US$303.3m for compensation of employees, including provisions for new staffs from the security, health and education sectors; and US$79.14m for goods and services, including educational and essential health supplies.
Others are US$63.57 million in grants to government and non-governmental service delivery entities; US$30 million for debt service, including US$7 million for domestic debt services and interest and US$23 million for payment of external debt, principal and interest; US$1.71 million for subsidy to non-governmental organizations complimenting government’s efforts in strategic service delivery; US$48m in social benefits for severance to former elected officers and US$10.97 million for non-financial assets relevant to road maintenance and the acquisition of new assets for government operations.
Furthermore, according to the appropriation for the 2018/2019 budget, the PSIP is projected at US$73.4 million, with a focus on five priority sectors including: US$40.56 million for infrastructure and basic services sector, with focus on roads construction, maintenance of bridges and construction of pro-poor housing; US$5.0m for the education sector, with focus on construction of laboratories and libraries and provision of armchairs for selected public schools and US$1.58m for the health sector with focus on expanding and improving mental health services and providing equipment for Jackson F. Doe Hospital.
The remaining project in the budget includes US$3.0m social development services sector, with focus on job creation, high vulnerable population at risk and humanitarian outreach activities; US$2.78m for agriculture sector with focus on rice value chain development, improved varieties and seeds of basic food crops; US$2.5 million for municipal & local government sector, with focus on cleaning all major cities in the country; US$6.0m for public administration sector, with focus on conducting national population census and the renovation of the executive mansion; and US$2.0 million for the security sector will go towards the construction of a military hospital for army personnel.
Meanwhile, Rep. Thomas Fallah is the Chairman of the House’s Ways, Means, Finance, and Development Planning, while Representative Edward Karfiah is the chairman of the House’s Public Account & Expenditure Committee. In the Liberian senate, Senator Morris Saytumah is the chairman on the senate’s Ways, Means, and Finance & Budget Committee, while Sen. Henry Yallah is the head of the senate’s Public Accounts and Audit Committee.
Statutorily, Rep. Fallah is the head of the Joint Committee on the budget, while Senator Henry Yallah is the chairman of the Joint Committee on Public Accounts. The scrutiny of the budget might hopefully begin next week.