In view of Suggested 6-Week Delay
House of Representatives Vote for Joint Committee to Coordinate with the Executive on Emerging Budget Issues
In order to encourage decentralization of growth and development and tackle poverty especially in the rural parts of the 15 counties, a Civil Society Organization (CSO) which aims to link communities to the overall governance framework, has urged the Government (both the Executive and the Legislature) to adopt a ‘structural reform approach’ in the way the National Budget is developed and formulated to include local participation and the involvement of the counties’ local administrations.
The Institute for Research and Democratic Development (IREDD) has warned the government to take pragmatic steps to ensure that the national budget is informed by county level development priorities which are aligned with national level development goals and encourage active citizen’s participation in the budget formulation process.
IREDD’s warning, which was issued by Executive Director Harold Aidoo, coincided with a communication from President George M. Weah, Sr., informing the House of Representatives over the delay of the presentation of 2019/2020 Fiscal Budget by six weeks (45 days), which the President said is to enable him (the Chief Executive) to present an all-inclusive national budget against a backdrop of negative economic forecasts.
In the President’s communication which was read on Thursday, May 2 — the 27th day sitting of the House — he made reference to the Public Financial Management (PFM) Reform Law, which mandates the Executive, through the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning to present the National Budget to the House of Representatives on the 30th of April of each year for the purpose of strengthening greater transparency and accountability around public resources, but extended his regrets.
The House of Representatives also voted for the Committees on Ways, Means, Finance & Development Planning and the Public Accounts & Expenditure to coordinate with the Executive relative to emerging issues on the 2019/2020 National Budget.
In a press conference yesterday, IREDD said the mantra and the current state of the national budget only entrenches poverty undermines development and is counterproductive to the attainment of the very Pro-poor Agenda for Prosperity and Development (PAPD).
“You cannot achieve any meaningful development if over 80% of the current national budget is still spent on recurrent expenses. It is mind boggling that, after 12-years in opposition, the George Weah led administration has not been able to take significant policy steps and shift in the way the national budget is developed, despite its pro-poor government mantra, and continue the same trajectory as his predecessor, “ Mr. Harold M. Aidoo, IREDD Executive Director said.
The IREDD boss revealed that the current budget formulation is from top to bottom with little or no input from the counties, because there is zero citizen participation in the way the budgets are formulated and the priorities which the national budget seeks to address.
In a firm tone, Mr. Aidoo called on the Executive, through the Minister of Finance and Development Planning (MFDP) Samuel Tweh, to publicly release a Pre-Budget Statement (PBS) before the Executive Budget Proposal is submitted to the Legislature.”
“We believe that the Pre-Budget Statement (PBS) will present the executive’s economic and fiscal policy plans for the next budget year. This will encourage debates on the budget in advance of the presentation of a more detailed Executive’s Budget Proposal. The Pre-Budget Statement will reflect the culmination of the strategic planning phase of the budget process, in which the executive broadly aligns its policy goals with the resources available under the budget’s fiscal framework — the total amount of expenditure, revenue, and debt for the upcoming budget year.”
He added: “This process we believe will establish the parameters of the budget proposal before detailed program funding decisions are made. By laying out the budget’s broad parameters, the statement can help create appropriate expectations for the Executive’s Budget Proposal. The Pre-Budget Statement can also be associated with a medium-term expenditure framework, which will seek to link policy, planning, and budgeting over a multi-year period. Best practice recommends that the Pre-Budget Statement include: macroeconomic forecasts upon which the budget will be based; major revenue and expenditure policies and priorities that will guide the development of detailed estimates for the upcoming budget; and multi-year revenue and expenditure projections.”