‘What Happened to 2017/2018 National Budget?’

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Senate Debates Current State of Economy

  • Soaring exchange rates alarming

  • “Referral hospitals have not received supplies for over three months and people are dying for lack of drugs”

The Liberian Senate yesterday spent much of its 75th day session debating the state of the country’s economy and questioning the whereabouts of the 2017/2018 National Budget already passed by both chambers of the Legislature and sent to President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf to be signed into handbills.

The Senators said since the passage of the budget five months ago, “we are yet to know whether it has been signed, or what may have been added or adjusted to it.”

Yesterday’s debate was prompted by a letter from Grand Bassa County Senator Jonathan L. Kaipay in which he called his colleagues’ attention to the ensuing political transition in January 2018, “for which knowledge of the present state of the economy prior to that anticipated change is extremely necessary.”

Senator Kaipay’s letter dated November 20 requested the Senate plenary to cite both the Minister of Finance and Development Planning and the Commissioner General of the Liberia Revenue Authority to provide information on the current state of the country’s economy.

The Grand Bassa County lawmaker wants the information to be requested from the two finance houses to include an update on the second quarter of the Budget on which the Government of Liberia is currently operating, and revenue generated during the quarter under review, according to LRA’s revenue projection.

The debate that followed saw the majority of the 16 Senators present in a unanimous agreement to not only invite the Finance Minister and LRA bosses, but that the Executive Governor of the Central Bank of Liberia and Minister of Commerce be cited as well.

Senator Nyonblee Karnga-Lawrence, who had earlier this year flagged the deplorable state of the economy with emphasis on the exchange rate, told her colleagues that the situation is fast approaching an alarming state, adding, “referral hospitals have not received supplies for over three months and people are dying for lack of drugs. With such a situation, we need to know how much we have in the budget before the sitting of the new government to avoid an economic disaster.”

Because of the important and urgent nature of the letter, one group of Senators suggested that the Senate should conduct a public hearing, while the other school of thought suggested that due to what may be divulged by the officials to be cited, the Senate should constitute itself into a committee and conduct hearings in executive session (behind closed doors).

With a vote of 15 for and 1 abstention, the Senate agreed that the Ministers of Finance, Commerce, CBL Governor, and LRA Executive Commissioner be cited to brief the Senate on the state of the economy referencing their respective institutions.

Meanwhile, the Senate has mandated the secretariat of the Senate to request the President to send them a copy of the 2017/2018 National Budget passed by the Legislature.

11 COMMENTS

  1. So in the dying days of her administration this President is busy cutting ribbons and appointing new ambassadors while sitting on the 2017/2018 National Budget Act passed by the Legislature and sent to her for signature and publication? Amazing.

  2. My question is this; Has the Senate been on break for the past five months? Why should they wait till after five months before talking about the budget. Is there something that they know, which has caused them to keep quiet all this while? When will the laws work in this country? When will the independence of the three branches of government be respected? The budget was for the existing government to run effectively for one year, and for the stability of the country. I guess it is now being used as a political tool for the Executive branch of government. We are only changing the heads of the executive, not the entire public sector workforce.

  3. Hummmmm Big G, dar a der oh; dar jus now dey takin, is it becuz dey nar gettin der benafit/allowances dar why dey askin after 5 mons; dey gravy train fini oh, yor go fine sunwere to sit down; who dey askin, dar ask not my ask oh.

  4. This suggests that when some presidential candidates were articulating outlandish policy proposals, such as providing social security benefits for the elderly, they had no idea whether the 2017/2018 budget will accommodate those rosy promises, or where the extra money coming from to pay for them. Yet in order to thwart this year’s democratic transfer of power, some would rather thumb their noses at the usual sources of vital foreign aid and investment: International community, US, and the United Nation’s Security Council.

    Well, what we never heard: “Big Mouth nor nay say hin master poor”!

    • Good question, Syl. Promises, Promises Promises; from Liberia’s wannabe President. “Where is the extra MONEY coming from?” Now that we’ve narrowed down to two Presidential Candidates, there ought to be a “DEBATE” before election. 0Liberia is in a desperate Economic Situation.

  5. Ellen and company are determined to empty the Finance Ministry and Central Bank before they leave office next month. Good luck to the new president-elect. Now, we will see who born dog between the most powerful branch of government, The Legislative Branch and the defiant and arrogance of the Executive Branch.

    In addition, a test of will power, first for a toothless bulldog Senate and for the incoming president who will most likely inherit a bankrupt government. Will the new president have the spine to hold the outgoing president and cabinet to account? This is where the rubber meets the road. Our eyes and ears are wide open. No one is making up this stuff up that is beginning to play out like one of these African movies.

  6. Mr. Henry Freeman, debates won’t give us detailed costed plank – specific platforms, let the two campaigns write them down, citizens deserve printed manifestos to crosscheck each policy execution. The fact of the matter is debates aren’t reliable tools of measuring capacity to govern or deliver on promises.

    Some leaders ‘talk’ like parrots, while others ‘lead’ like mute ants.

    This is why equating eloquence, or university education, with ability to perform hearkens to patronizing elitism. Perhaps, we ought to be reminded that the landmark televised debates between Vice President Nixon and Senator Kennedy in 1963 weren’t decided on grasp of the hotbotton ssues affecting Americans, but instead on which candidate looked presidential on TV – a beauty contest, so to speak.

    After all, lest we forget, an effective leader from all intents and purposes is as good as the team around him. Whether Boakai or Weah, the eventual winner will succeed or fail on the outputs of his principal policy makers and implementers. So let’s stop making education the foundational concern in this race when Liberians need a compassionate responsive reconciler.

  7. Thanks somuch Syvester, simple as that, super analysis. In a nutshell, EDUCATION and INNOVATION are interdependent, one is dysfunction without the other. A successful educational achiever without being innovative is as equivalent as owning a car without an engine. We Liberians need to dig deeper with more focus on choosing a pragmatic leader, I mean a leader who can equally scale balance between EDUCATION and INNOVATION.

  8. i am glad i got my citizenship for america. your liberian people will suffer for the next 50 years. stealing money i dont care who the president. liberia will be a mess. i will be here in the united states enjoying my money yah. your fight and argue all your want we in the diaspora will be laughing at your stupid selve

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