House Approves US$69.9m Budget Cut

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Members of the House of Representatives yesterday voted unanimously to pass the Recast Budget to allow US$69.9m to be cut from the 2015/2016 National Budget.

The 2015/2016 Budget was formally passed in July 2015 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.

The approval of the Recast Budget means that the budget is now US$522, 843,420.

A special report to approve the budget, which was read during yesterday’s sitting states: “… after careful review and analysis of the downward trend of our Nation’s economy extremely impacted by the challenging global economic crisis resulting into the consistent decline in the prices of our major commodities (rubber and iron ore, etc) and our tax base, the members of the joint Ways, Means, Finance and Development Planning Committee and Public Account and Expenditure Committee… recommend the endorsement of the proposed austerity measure to cut back public spending by US$69.9m as requested by the President’s letters, dated January 27, and February 8, 2016.”

The report added: “Considering the constraints on our already fragile economy engendered by the devastating Ebola crisis, the prompt acceptance and execution of this proposal will be extremely helpful in the formulation of the budget estimates for the FY 2016/17. The speedy passage would afford us the ample time to debate the budget.”

The report was under the signature of the Co-Chairman on Ways, Means Finance & Development Planning, Rep. Sekou S. Kanneh, Montserrado County District # 2.

Twenty out of the 23-man joint committee signed the report, which was unanimously accepted.

The concurrence of the Senate will make the 2015/2016 Recast Budget a law.

It may be recalled that the former Minister for Finance and Development Planning, Amara Konneh, said: “Investing in the agriculture sector and mechanisms to enhance taxation, as well as a proposed austerity measure, are key interventions needed to restore the nation’s microeconomic stability.”

While presenting a detailed report on the proposed Recast Budget to the joint Committees on Ways, Means and Finance and Public Accounts of the House of Representatives during a public hearing at the Capitol Building on February 10, Minister Konneh emphasized the fiscal and monetary burden on the Liberian economy, which was being manifested by the drop in the prices of its core export commodities on the global market.

He maintained that the current economic shock was also inherited from the recent Ebola health crisis, which is now compelling the nation to perform below the average of its projected growth.

Konneh further noted, “I think if Liberia must be a suitable destination for foreign direct investment, as well as encouraging investment in the private sector, efforts must be exerted to eradicate political risks.

“This can be addressed by increasing support to the security sector to enhance the capacities of security functionaries such as the Liberia National Police to ensure that the environment is tenable to host investors,” Minister Konneh advised.

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