By Esau J. Farr
Cogent information reaching this paper has revealed that the delay in the presentation of the Draft 2019/2020 Fiscal Budget to the Legislature for passage is heavily linked to the ‘June 7 ‘Save The State Protest’.
Our source revealed that had the Government of Liberia presented the already Draft 2019/2020 Fiscal Budget to the Legislature before the June 7 protest, it would have further given more reasons for the protest.
One major fear for the delay in the presentation of the draft budget is the issue of the reduction of civil servant salary across the country, something the Executive Branch of Government fears that should the draft fiscal budget comes out before the protest, many civil servants will join the protest.
There is already a communication from Montserrado Electoral District eight Representative, Acarus Moses Gray sweating in committee room which is calling for the reduction of the benefits and incentives of members of the House of Representatives in the next budget.
With civil servants always complaining about low salary and calling for increment while the Weah led government is contemplating on reducing the already small salary by 25% in an already declining economic system marred by corruption allegations, the government through the Finance Ministry is unprepared to timely present the Draft Fiscal Budget.
The Budget Law of 1999 in line with the Constitution of Liberia amongst other things calls for the Executive branch presenting the draft budget to the National Legislature of the country on or before the 30th of April each year.
But early last week, the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning sent a communication to the 54th Legislature through President George M. Weah asking for additional 45 days to enable the government present a holistic and realistic Fiscal Budget running from July 1, 2019 to June 30, 2020.
With the 2019/2020 Draft Fiscal Budget of Liberia coming only two weeks before the start of execution by government, it is expected that the Finance Ministry will make use of the ‘1/12’ budget law to pay civil servants for the months of July, August and maybe September 2019.
With the submission of the draft budget expected to come more than a month and a half, it is expected that there will also be serious delays in the passage of the budget owing to the fact that spending agencies of the Government of Liberia are mostly reluctant to provide performance budget to the Legislature as required by law, but only become active during budget hearing.
Despite public outcry about the damping and declining state of the country’s economy, President Weah should stand ready to call for extra ordinary session of the 54th Legislature at the end of the Second Session since members of that august body will perhaps intentionally delay the passage of the budget dragging them into extra ordinary session aimed at getting ‘double pay’ guaranteed under the law of the land. TNR