Liberia: ‘The Senate Welcomes Fiscal Discipline’ – Pro Tempore Chie Tells IMF Delegation
Monrovia – The President Pro-tempore of the Liberian Senate has assured the delegation of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) that members of the Liberian Senate are prepared for any fiscal discipline if the need be so as to help improve the declining economy.
Report by Henry Karmo, [email protected]
Speaking Monday, June 24, following a closed-door meeting with the IMF team, Pro-temp Albert Chie disclosed that the meeting with the IMF was geared toward reducing the wage Bill.
The delegation headed by the IMF’s Chief of Mission, Madam Mika Saite, and Mr. Geoffery Oestreicher, Resident Representative of the IMF Office in Liberia Monday’s meeting with the Pro-Temp was one of the series of meetings with officials of the Weah’s led government.
“We at the Senate have always welcomed any fiscal discipline for the common good of our Country,” Pro-temp Chie said.
He told journalists after the meeting that their discussion with the IMF team borders on embarking on a process of adopting a credible and executable budget for Fiscal Year 2019/2020 and onward.
Few days ago, the visiting IMF delegation led by Madam Mika Saito arrived in Liberia and commenced series of engagements with the Liberian Government to discuss possible financial support under the IMF Extended Credit Facility.
Ms. Saito is the IMF’s Deputy Division Chief, Western II Division and African Department.
At a joint press conference on Monday, June 24 with Finance and Development Planning Minister Samuel Tweah and the Executive Governor of the Central Bank of Liberia, Nathaniel Patray, the IMF’s head of delegation, Ms. Saito noted that the IMF mission supports the government’s objectives of restoring macroeconomic balance in the near-term, addressing weakness in governance and institutions of the public sector, improving the business climate and putting Liberia on a fiscally sustainable and inclusive growth path.
Additionally, the IMF delegation noted that good progress was made in a number of important areas, with specific reference to the contours of the fiscal year (FY) 2020 budget, the stance and modalities of monetary policy, and structural reform program that is consistent with the Government’s pro-Poor Agenda for Prosperity and Development (PAPD).
Moreover, the delegation said while it welcomes the reforms being instituted by the government towards economic recovery and growth, success of the reform agenda is predicated on the adoption of a credible and executable budget for FY2020 and beyond.
Amid achieving this, Ms. Saito called for expenditure to be held to a level consistent with realistic estimates of the resource envelope so that budget execution in the coming year can proceed with predictability and efficiency. In addition, the measure is needed to support the provision of essential public services and avoid the accumulation of domestic arrears.
In response, Minister Tweah said government welcomes the IMF findings and recommendations and noted that the government, in an effort of reducing its wage bill, has embarked on a ‘revolutionary’ measure through its wage harmonization exercise.
He revealed that the current FY 2019/2020 draft budget was to be submitted to the President on Tuesday, June 25, for onward submission to the Legislature.
In line with the IMF recommendation of reducing the wage bill, expenditure was slashed from US$330 million to US$297 million.
In the past, he noted that ministers and head of government’s agencies had discretionary privileges to set the salary of staff at their respective institutions. This, he said, led to huge and unfair disparities among government officials and civil servants; adding that the current administration is set to address that.
According to him, the immediate past administration received huge money in aid, but most of the money was used for salaries, something that the current government intends to curtail.