Senate Passes Budget, Export-Import Bank Act

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The lawmakers raised their hands to vote

-But fails to hold discussions on currency depreciation

Members of the Senate with a unanimous vote yesterday concurred with members of the House of Representatives, to pass the 2018/2019 Budget in the amount of US$570,148,000 as was received by that body on Tuesday afternoon.

The Senate’s unsurprising decision yesterday followed a report from its committee on Ways, Means, Finance and Budget, which recommended that members of the joint committee exercise due diligence by the joint committee of the two Houses.

The Senate’s committee report reads, “The Senate Committee on Ways, Means and Budget briefed the Senators as to the formulation and analysis of fiscal year 2018/2019 in the amount of US$570,148,000, equivalent to L$84,333, 327,000 at the average exchange rate of L$147.9148 to US$1.”

In appearing through the mandate of the Senate plenary, the joint committee on Ways, Means, Finance and Budget, according to the report, engaged authorities of the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning (MFDP), Liberia Revenue Authority (LRA) and all major stakeholders to jointly scrutinize the Fiscal 2018/2019 Budget.

Based on the hearings conducted jointly by the Ways, Means, Finance and Budget of both Houses of the Legislature, “the committee on Ways, Means, Finance and Budget of the Senate hereby recommend to the plenary of the Senate to concur with the members of the House of Representatives as to the enactment of the House engrossed Bill #7, entitled, “An Act to Approve the Budget for the Fiscal period beginning July 1, 2018, and ending June 30, 2019, providing for the expenditure of the government in the tune of US$570,148,000.”

In his motion for Senate concurrence and seconded by Bomi County Senator Sando Johnson, Grand Kru County Senator Peter Coleman reminded his colleagues that the joint committee of both Houses has already exhaustively scrutinized and performed due diligence and, as such, the Senate needs to concur with members of the Lower House.

In an act of formality, the Senate also concurred with the House of Representatives on an Act establishing the Export-Import Bank.

The Export–Import Bank (Ex-Im Bank or the Bank) is the official export credit agency (ECA) of the government, but operates as a wholly government-owned corporation. The bank “assists in financing and facilitating exports of goods and services,” but it does not compete with private sector lenders. Rather, it provides financing for transactions that would otherwise not occur because commercial lenders are either unable or unwilling to accept the political or commercial risks inherent in the deal.

However, the Senate for the third time failed to meet with the Central Bank of Liberia (CBL), to discuss the alarming situation of the rising exchange rate between the United States Dollar and the Liberian currency. The meeting with officials at the CBL has been rescheduled for three Wednesdays now.

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