Cautions Minister Tweah not to allow President Weah to approve it without their inclusion
Justices of the Supreme Court, having realized that the Judiciary may not be counted among beneficiaries of the US$10.5 million Supplementary Budget just passed by the Legislature, have thrown their voices out to remind the Executive and Legislative branches of govenment not to sideline the third branch of Government.
The Justices, therefore, have resolved to ask the President not to approve the budget if the government did not allot any of the money to the Judiciary this time around.
The Justices vented their anger yesterday when they cited Finance and Development Planning, Minister Samuel Tweah and Justice Minister Musa Dean to explain why the judiciary is left out of the supplementary budget.
Minister Tweah, responding to the question, expressed his innocence of the law that gives his ministry the right to include the Judiciary in the creation of the Supplementary budget.
Minister Tweah told the already annoyed Justices said he did not know if there is any law in that direction.
He, however, was quick to change his taught when the Justices read the law to him.”Now, I know that there is a law that we should include the Judiciary into formatting any budget, but please allow the President to approve this budget that excludes the Judiciary. Afterward, we will find something for you people.” Minister Tweah also said.
The Finance Minister had reasoned earlier that the judiciary was just one of the autonomous agencies that collect its own money to facilitate their operational activities.
Chief Justice Francis Korkpor, hearing Tweah’s response, became more outrageous, demanding that Minister Tweah should go back to tell the President not to sign the budget unless it is revised to captured the Judiciary.
Justice Korkpor told Minister Tweah that there should be a specific allocation that would be evenly compared with the two other branches. Justice Korkpor said, “The Judiciary is not an autonomous agency to raise revenue for itself. Rather, they only collect money mainly from the fine imposed on lawyers and sometimes judges who violate the Judicial Cannon. It is not all the time we can fine lawyers to get money; if all of the lawyers chose not to violate the canon, then, where do you expect us to get funds to run the affairs of the judiciary?” the Chief Justices asked Tweah.
For Justice Minister Musa Dean, he was cited to explain as to whether he was knowledgeable of the act, and what advice he had given the two other branches of Government.
In response, Minister Dean said he was aware of the law; however, he has failed to explain it to the minister, the Legislature and the Executive.
The Justices later informed Tweah that onward, they must be consulted and be captured as provided for by the new Judiciary Act.
Lamenting their situation, the Justices informed Minister Tweah that they have to reverse to credit just to run the affairs of the Judiciary to include the renovation of court facilities throughout the country as well as upkeep staff.
The New Judiciary Law is under the captioned, “An Act to amend certain provision of chapter 3,7,12,14 15,18 and 21 of the new Judiciary Law to provide Financial Autonomy to the Judiciary.”
The act was approved on January 14, 2006, and published by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on February 16, 2006.
Section 23.3 which deals with the Financial Administration of the Judiciary Budget provides that the Supreme Court shall submit to the Bureau of Budget annual estimates of the expenditures and appropriation, supplies and services including personnel, as well as funds appropriated for retirement pension and death benefits necessary for the maintenance and operation of the courts and such supplemental and deficiency estimate as may be required from time to time for the same purpose according to the law.’
Section 4 on the other hand states that “Non-compliance with the provisions contained within section 21.3 (2) above shall entitle the Supreme Court to hold the Minister of Finance or any other responsible officer for contempt of court.”
It can be recalled that President George M. Weah recently submitted the US$10.5 million supplementary budget to the House of Representatives and House of Senate for timely consideration.
In a letter accompanying the draft supplementary budget, President Weah told Speaker Bhofal Chambers and members of the House of Representatives that the budget is meant to “Enable the government deliver on programs that are in critical needs for funds.”
According to the President, his government has “realized a windfall amid mounting expenditure demands for service deliverables beyond allocations in the approved budget of the Fiscal Year 2020/2021.”
The FY 2020/2021 budget was approved in the tone of US$570.1 million. If the supplementary budget is approved, the total budget for FY 2020/2021 will be US$580.6 million.
The President indicated that the sources of the supplementary budget include US$9 million from ArcelorMittal and a grant of US$1.5 million from the Kingdom of Morocco.
Furthered in his communication, the President outlined his expenditures as followed: RIA route pavement $900,000; Public school chair project $700,000; Transformer project $600,000; Hospital beds $500,000; Legislative goods and services $1.4m; domestic travels $400,000; vehicle repairs and maintenance $300,000; and constituency travels $900,000.
Others are vehicle fuel and lubricant $400,000; generator fuel $600,000; printing, binding and publication $250,000; Telecommunication, internet and ICT supplies, $250,000; RIA residential lounge $250,000; public schools renovation $250,000; GOL obligation to the African Union $1,129,695; Foreign Missions Operations $370,305 and subsidy compensation related $600,000.