Senate Spurns Public Debate on FY 2019/2020 Recast Budget

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Senate wing of the Liberian Legislature

Concurs with House of Representatives

The Liberian Senate, spurning public debate on the recast budget, has concurred with the House of Representatives for passage into law the proposed recast COVID-19 Budget for the fiscal period 2019/2020 in the tone of US$518,000,000 (Five Hundred Eighteen Million United States Dollars).

The House of Representatives, which also spurned public debate, passed the recast budget Monday evening and forwarded it to the Senate for concurrence.

The Senate’s decision was based on a resolution signed by two-thirds of the total membership. During the passage of the budget through a resolution, a heated argument ensued between Montserrado County Senator Abraham Darius Dillon and some of his colleagues to a point where he was almost thrown out of session.

Senator Dillon argued that passing the budget through a resolution was not healthy because the budget should be debated to know the sources of funds and other sticky issues including the food program included for COVID-19.

The Senate Resolution #001/2020 was read during the Senate sitting on Friday May 22, 2020, by the Secretary of the Senate J. Nanborlor F. Singbeh and subsequently obtained an overwhelming votes by Senators in Chamber.

President George M. Weah on May 15, 2020 submitted the FY-2019/2020 covid-19 Recast budget to the Legislature for consideration.

The Senate’s resolution further indicated that the global Covid-19 pandemic has created extra budgetary conditions in the economy of Liberia which necessitated a recast of FY-2019/2020 National Budget with fiscal measures.

“Now therefore, it is resolved by the Senate of the Republic of Liberia in Legislature assembled:

  1. That the amount of Five Hundred Eighteen Million United States Dollars (US$518, 000, 000) is hereby approved as the COVID-19 Recast National Budget for FY-219/2020.
  2. That in order to protect the revenue of Liberia, there shall be the imposition of excise tax of Thirty United States Cents per gallon of petroleum products sold on the Liberian market and which shall become effective immediately.
  3. That for the centralization of the collection of all Government revenues, there shall be a revision of existing laws relating to the Liberia Maritime Authority (LMA) and the Liberia Telecommunication Authority (LTA), to ensure that One Hundred Percent (100%) of all revenues accruing in these entities from all sources are collected by, and flowed directly to the consolidated Account at the Central Bank of Liberia (CBL).
  4. That consistent with improving transparency and effectiveness in the Public Financial Management system, the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning shall improve the timelines and comprehensiveness of financial reporting and fiscal transparency by:

a. Having all advanced-reporting agencies revert to using the government’s integrated Financial Management Information System (IFMIS) for all purchases with a cessation of the piloted Cash Advance Program; and

b. The weekly publishing of reconciled and comprehensive fiscal data to be shared with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) effective immediately.

5. That there shall be a consideration of Five Hundred Twenty Million United State Dollars (US$520,000,000), as the ceiling for FY-2020/2021 National Budget.

6. That this resolution shall take effect immediately”.

Author

  • I am a Liberian journalist, born November 7 and hailed from the Southeast and of the kru tribe. I began contributing to the Daily Observer 2008 and was fully employed in 2012. I am the 3rd of eight children and named after my great grandfather. Am happily married with three children (girls). I am a full member of the Press Union of Liberia (PUL) and also the Sports Writers Association of Liberia (SWAL) and the Legislative Press Pool (LEGISPOL). I can be contacted through email: [email protected] or cell number/WhatsApp: (+231) 0886585875 or Facebook.

5 COMMENTS

  1. Our lawmakers in Liberia are like “yes man” to the executive and will approves anything send to them for reviewing. Is it out if ignorance or just laziness about them saying yes to everything. Is this why they are paid thousands of U.S dollars for just affixing signatures to whatsoever send to them? So it was necessary to really cut funding from the ministry of health and increase public works budget? Oh yes, for them, they don’t get treatment in Liberia whenever they become sick so, they rather cut the health budget than cutting the speaker and the senate pro tempo budget.

    We need more Dillion’s like senators to get working for the Liberian people. Being a lawmaker don’t necessarily means to just concord with every documents that comes before you for approval. It not just about signatures but goes beyond that. If we care about Liberia, it’s about time we say no to the wrongs and stop adjusting ourself in the direction of poverty. I can not just comprehend why in a poverish nation like Liberia, where about 90% of the masses are feeding on average, $2 a day meal, and allowing a budget of the speaker of the house and the senate pro temp to be $3 million U. S dollars. This is why politics has become very attractive in Liberia and this madness has to stop. We took 13 former government officials to the pole and killed them, we claimed because they were corrupt. What is going on now in Liberia, is worst more than our reasons giving for killing those 13 brilliant former government officials. Why are we heading in this direction again? Why can’t we stayed away from the wrongs and do what in the interest of Liberia? Why should the 90% of Liberians continue to live in abject poverty while the 10% lives in luxury considering our population in comparison to our resources? Why are we so selfish and continue to only center all good to ourself forgetting about our fellow Liberians? We can not continue on this path.

  2. All of what happening now with perennial quibble over the budget has an attribute to Ellen’s leadership failure. Ellen Johnson Sirleaf was the greatest leadership nightmare that ever happened to Liberia. When she ascended to the presidency, there were lots of international goodwills for the reconstruction of Liberia following years of self-inflated destruction. The healthcare systems was in shamble; the education sector was brain drained; infrastructure development was at the nadir of neglect; basic utilities were summarily decimated by the war.

    So, rather than seeking assistance for reconstruction or asking the international community to direct resources for the reconstruction of the country, Ellen instead sought international support for recurrent expenditures of her government to primarily support her budget which had 86% focus on payroll, bringing senior government official salaries nearly to over 100 times the amounts of their counterparts in similar positions in developed countries.

    For example our Chief Justice per annum salary went from pre-war salary of $52, 000.00 United States dollars to $696, 000.00 United States dollars; The office of the president budget went from pre-war 900,000 United States dollars per annum to 2.9 million United States dollars per annum; the salaries of representatives went from pre-war $1,200.00 United States dollars per month to $14,000.00 United States dollars per month under Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf. Most of the monies that were brought in by the international partners was directed to payment of salaries. The EU, for example, paid the salaries of GAC senior officials for 12 years, spending about $15,000.00 USD per month on each senior officials. These were funds brought in to reconstruct the country, but Ellen directed the funds to help support recurrent budget accounts.

    Now, what remains a nightmare is that these salaries continue to be the new normal because Ellen introduced it. Who can ever alter these humongous salary structures? We pay our government officials higher than developed countries do. We are the poorest in Sub-shara Africa, yet we spend huge some of our revenues on paying government officials, empowering them to keep abusing their own people and to go on stealing.

    We probably need a bloodless military or civilian coup to take government and restructure everything Ellen messed up. If not, Liberia will remain underdeveloped as majority of her line budget items go toward recurrent expenditures of government officials and to support the lifestyles of societal miscreants. Ellen should be in jai for creating this incurable cancer. Who will now ascend to power and revise this petrifying trend?

    She ought to be lockup to spend the remainder of her life in jail—an old wretched witch of German descent that Liberian was cursed to have as president.

  3. These fat thieves are destroying our country. They are rapists, thieves and criminals. Please let them all get COVID and die

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