Legislature Vows to Enact ‘Upright’ Budget

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Amid rumors of budget manipulation and fiscal wrongdoing by the Legislature, the Chairman of the Joint Committee on Ways, Means, Finance and Development Planning, Rep. Moses Y. Kollie, has said the Legislature is keen and certain to pass an upright fiscal budget.

The Lofa County District # 5 Representative said even though he also serves as Chairman of the Liberia People Democratic Party (LPDP), with Speaker Tyler as the party’s presumptive political leader, the budget will not be manipulated as being rumored.

Rep. Kollie said the Joint Budget Committee, comprising of 37 Legislators, 15 Senators and 22 Representatives, exerts every fiscal effort to scrutinize the 2016/2017 Draft Fiscal Budget so as to enact a highly regarded budget.

The Legislative Joint Budget Committee is made-up of the Senate’s Ways, Means, Finance and Budget and the House’s Committees on Ways, Means, Finance and Development Planning and Public Accounts.

Rep. Kollie made the remarks yesterday in his office on Capitol Hill.

Chairman Kollie’s clarification was owing to a report that the Executive has expressed fear that the House Speaker would raise money for his newly found political party, LPDP, through its Chairman, who is also Chairman on the Joint Budget Committee.

However, according to reports, the Cabinet, on the 2016/2017 Draft Budget, on Wednesday issued a statement following a meeting pointing to the long held allegation of budget manipulation between some officials of the Executive and the Legislature, when Cabinet threatened its officials against budget manipulation.

In a statement following the meeting, an Executive Mansion release quoted reported that “The Cabinet has carefully reviewed the status updates on key benchmarks in the areas of roads, ports, water and sanitation, education as well as Task Force performance, covering agriculture and agro-processing and manufacturing and business support. It threatens punitive action against any member of the executive involved in budget manipulation and mandated a vigorous and aggressive Sector Minister-led Town Hall meeting education and information-dissemination campaigns.”

The Executive Mansion is yet to provide explanation for the warning to officials of the Executive branch of government against budget manipulation, a warning coming at a time the draft budget is before the National Legislature.

Before the Cabinet’s threat against Executive officials concerning the budget on Wednesday, a key legislative source informed the Daily Observer that President Ellen Sirleaf has threatened to send the budget back in the instance of unsatisfactory allotments.

Meanwhile, Rep. Kollie, in a Thursday press conference said the Joint Committee would not be deterred to do its constitutional work on scrutinizing and passing the budget.

“We are sorry to say they have shown their ignorance of the budget, because there will be no way for us to manipulate the budget,” Rep. Kollie said.

He added, “As the Constitution has said we have the authority to make appropriations and that’s what we will do without fiscal unlawful activities.”

Article 34 (d) of the 1986 Constitution gives the Legislature the power to make appropriations for the fiscal governance of the country.

It is provided in Article 34 that (d) The Legislature shall have the power: d) to levy taxes, duties, imports, exercise and other revenues, to borrow money, issue currency, mint coins, and to make appropriations for the fiscal governance of the Republic, subject to the following qualifications:

(ii) no monies shall be drawn from the treasure except in consequence of appropriations made by legislative enactment and upon warrant of the President; and no coin shall be minted or national currency issued except by the expressed authority of the Legislature. An annual statement and account of the expenditure of all public monies shall be submitted by the office of the President to the Legislature and published once a year.”

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