Liberia: Senate Concurs with Lower House on Recast COVID-19 Budget Amid Bribery Allegations
Monrovia – The Liberian Senate Friday concurred with the House of Representatives to pass a recast budget through a resolution signed by two-third of Senators.
Report by Henry Karmo, [email protected]
The decision to concur with the Lower House was in contrast to an earlier motion filed by Senator Henry Yallah(People’s Unification Party, Bong County) according to Senator Darius Dillon of Montserrado County.
“In the motion, it was agreed that the financial instrument (Recast budget) sent from the House of Representatives would be turned over to the Committee on Ways, Means and Public Accounts of the senate for proper scrutiny and debate.”
On Friday a heated argument ensued between Senator Abraham Darius Dillon(Liberty Party, Montserrado County) and Senate Pro-tempore Albert Chie who felt the decision to use a resolution to concur with the House of Representatives was not what was agreed on Wednesday when the recast was sent from the House of Representatives.
Bribery Claim from Dillon
The LP Senator reminded the Pro-Temp who was not in session that day that they had agreed through a motion to debate the instrument before passage. In an angry mood, Senator Dillon walked out of session accusing his colleagues who had signed the resolution of receiving money.
Despite the opposition from Senator Dillon and others, the Senate plenary passed into Law the proposed recast COVID -19 Budget for the fiscal period 2019/2020 in the tone of US$518,000,00(Five Hundred Eighteen Million United States Dollars).
The Senate Decision was based on resolution signed by two-third of the total membership of the Liberian Senate. Senate Resolution #oo1/2020 was read during the Senate sitting on Friday May 22, 2020 by the Secretary of the Senate J. NanborlorF. Singbeh and subsequently obtained an overwhelming vote by members of the Senate in chamber.
The President of Liberia George Weah on May 15, 2020 submitted the FY-2019/2020 covid-19 Recast budget to the Legislature for consideration.
The Legislative instrument was passed by the House of Representative on Monday May 18, 2020 pending the concurrence of the Liberian Senate.
The Senate’s resolution further indicated that the global Covid-19 pandemic has created extra budgetary conditions in the economy of Liberia which necessitate 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: “That the amount of Five Hundred Eighteen Million United States Dollars (US$518, 000, 00) is hereby approved as the COVID-19 Recast National Budget for FY-219/2020. 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.”
“Now therefore, it is resolved by the Senate of the Republic of Liberia in Legislature assembled: That the amount of Five Hundred Eighteen Million United States Dollars (US$518, 000, 00) is hereby approved as the COVID-19 Recast National Budget for FY-219/2020. 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.
The Senate Resolution amongst many things call for thecentralization of the collection of all Government revenues, witha 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 to these entities from all sources are collected by, and flowed directly to the consolidated Account at the Central Bank of Liberia (CBL).
The resolution also states 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: requesting 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 The weekly publishing of reconciled and comprehensive fiscal data to be shared with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) effective immediately.
The resolution also states 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.