Liberia: House of Representatives Ratifies US$40M Direct Budgetary Support Agreement
Capitol Hill, Monrovia – The House of Representatives has ratified a US$40 million agreement with the International Development Association (IDA) to directly support fiscal year 2019/2020 national budget.
The financing agreement, the “First Inclusive Growth Development Policy Operation”, has already been signed between the Liberian Government, which was represented by Finance and Development Planning Minister Samuel Tweah and the World Bank Country, which was represented by its Manager, Dr. Khwima Nthara.
However, in line with constitutional provision, President George M. Weah is seeking Legislative approval to consummate the agreement.
According to President Weah, of the US$40 million, US$20 million is in the form of grant and US$20 million as IDA concessional credit terms.
“This budget support is essential as it will help the government fills the financing gap in the national budget 2019/2020. I trust the legislature will ratify this agreement to achieve sustainable poverty reduction,” President Weah implored the lawmakers in his communication.
Meanwhile, in a bid to fast track the ratification process, the House, through a motion by Rep. Isaac Roland (District #3, Maryland County), suspended its rule and unanimously approved the agreement.
Rep. Roland, in his motion said: “I move, if I can be seconded, that the communication from President Weah, considering the catalyst nature of this communication, that the rules be suspended and the one time reading of this communication be consummated and the House turns itself into a committee to pass this instrument if I can obtain a second.”
Rep. Thomas Goshua (District #5, Grand Bassa County) attempted challenging plenary’s ‘hasty’ decision in ratifying the agreement, but House Speaker Bhofal Chambers intervened, stating the agreement has overstayed at the Legislature and owing to urgency of the fund to support government’s projects in all parts of the country including Goshua’s constituents, it was prudent to pass it.
With that, Rep. Goshua abandoned his motion of reconsideration and Plenary’s decision was upheld.
The agreement will now be sent to the Senate for concurrence.
Meanwhile, the IDA’s intervention comes in the wake of officials from both the Executive and Legislative branches hinting of an imminent budget shortfall.
High-placed legislative sources informed FrontPageAfrica that the Legislature will shortly begin the process of recasting the final phase of the 2019/2020 national budget.
According to our sources, the government of Liberia is unable to raise over US$22 million in revenue.
It is unclear whether the anticipated US$40 million was captured in the FY 2019/2020 national budget of L$110,460,000,000 or US$526,000,000 that was passed in October 2019.
Senior government officials including lawmakers have hailed the IDA’s intervention as timely intervention.
At the signing ceremony, Finance and Development Planning Minister Samuel D. Tweah, lauded the World Bank Liberia Country Team, Accra-Ghana Team and staff in Washington DC for their well-coordinated approach, which led to the successful signing ceremony.