US$600M Budget Leaves Capitol Hill

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Despite the presence of the Ebola virus and government’s lack of capacity to combat the spread of the disease, Capitol Hill has passed a budget of US$660,236,000 million.

A draft National budget was submitted to the Legislature by the Executive in April of this year for deliberations, before opening it to full plenary. Liberia was hit by the second outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus disease. Since then, the budget had been debated and discussed behind closed-doors until yesterday when it surfaced on the floor of the House of Representatives.

The Committee on Ways, Means and Finance and Public Accounts presented the bill before plenary.

“Having thoroughly scrutinized the Draft National Budget for FY 2014/15 and derived a National Budget envelope of US$660,236,000, the Joint Committee requests the passage of the FY14/15 National Budget into law,” the Committee said.

Representative Munah Pelham-Youngblood’s motion to pass the draft law was overwhelmingly endorsed and immediately transmitted to the Senate for concurrence.

The Senate then acted with speed and passed the Act in an Executive Session and has since communicated that to President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf for signature and expected to be printed into handbill by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

In the 2014/15 Budget, government is set to collect US$25 million for signature bonus from the sale of oil blocks 6, 7, 16 & 17 while Contingent Borrowing is set at US$10 million.

According to the Joint Committee, the Executive submitted an initial budget envelope of US$473,252,000 but additional US$7,047,000 revenue was realized during budget hearings. It was realized that government is to collect US$74, 300,000 from Grant (contingent) and Grant (core) respectively.  Borrowing (core) is US$70,637,000 in the new budget.

The fate of civil servants still hangs in the balance as up to press time, as there was no news about the over 40,000 public workers in the new budget.

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