MONROVIA – The House of Representatives on Tuesday passed the Special Budget for Fiscal Year 2021 in the tone of US$342,186,000.
The introduction of the special national budget which will cover a period of six months beginning this gone July 1 to December 31, 2021, is part of the Government of Liberia’s transition to a full calendar year (January 1, to December 31).
The decision is in line with the amended PFM law which called for a change of the country’s fiscal year from July 31 to June 30, to January 1 to December 31.
The House took the decision following the recommendation of its Joint Committee on Ways, Means and Finance, and Public Accounts and Expenditure contained in its report read in Plenary.
The Committee said after a vigorous and thorough scrutiny of the budget as submitted to the Legislature in the tone of US$301.549 million, it identified an additional US$40.6 million, summing the budget to US$342,186,000.
“As a result of our robust decision from the hearings, an amount of US$40,636,000 was identified as additional sanitized contributions from SOEs (State Owned Enterprises), and additional revenue from domestic taxes and fees,” the Joint Committee said in its report.
The Committee named the SOEs as the Liberia Telecommunications Authority (LTA), Liberia Maritime Authority (LiMA), National Port Authority (NPA), Liberia Petroleum Refining Company (LPRC) and other revenue generating ministries, agencies and commissions.
of the extra US$,40,636,000, additional revenue will from the SOEs accounts for US$8,000 of which the LiMA will contribute US$500,000, LPRC: US$2,500,000, NPA: US$2 million, LTA: US$1 million and the National Road Fund: US$2 million.
Other sources include additional C/F: US$14,136 and Acerlor Mittal: US$18,500,000.
Who Gets what?
This draft mid-year budget is divided into eight components. Of these, US$150,281,000 is appropriated to Compensation of Employees, US$45,106 ,000 for Goods and Services, subsidy gets US$1,092,000 Grants: US$38,612,000; social benefits: US$5,422,000; non-financial assets: US$66,671,000; domestic liabilities: US$18,231,000 foreign liabilities: US$16,769,000
The House also adopted all of the fiscal measures outlined by the Committee to guide the process, some of which called for the budgetary appropriation for the LRA to be paid immediately upon collection of revenue by the budgetary rate of 5 percent of revenue collection until its budgetary ceiling is realized in accordance with the act creating the LRA, and that all social development funds including the land rental fees shall be transferred directly to the affected county escrow accounts.
Locked Behind Closed Doors
Prior to the House’s decision, the lawmakers locked themselves up behind closed doors for hours. Some of them, speaking on condition of anonymity told FrontPage Africa that they were thoroughly scrutinizing the committee’s report to ensure all competing priorities are captured.
The Chairman of the Ways, Means and Finance Committee, Rep Thomas Fallah, speaking to a team of reporters following the passage of the budget late Tuesday evening, acknowledged that the selection of competing priorities was one of the challenges the committee faced during the review process.
Meanwhile, the budget has been forwarded to the Liberian Senate for concurrence. If the Senate sees no qualm with it, then it will approve and send to the President for his signature and subsequently printed into handbill by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to complete the process.
However, if the Senate does not concur for whatever reasons, it will inform the House of Representatives through a written communication and a conference committee comprising of both Houses’ Budget Committees (Ways, Means & Finance, and Public Accounts & Expenditure Committees) will be set up to harmonize their differences before forwarding the budget to the Executive for the President’s signature.
Note: This story has been updated to include road as one of the top priorities.