–IREDD Terms 2018/2019 National Budget
By R Joyclyn Wea
The Institute for Research and Democratic Development (IREDD), says the Draft National Budget for fiscal year 2018/2019 recently passed by the House of Representatives is ‘unrealistic and unachievable’ for the George Weah led administration.
According to IREDD’s Program Officer, Bob Johnson, government is projecting a little over US$570million whereas the budget was initially submitted in the tone of US$562m on grounds that the government has omitted and identified additional resources, thus increasing the budget to the amount of US$570million.
Johnson made the assertion Wednesday, June 27, 2018 at a one-day National Community Media Forum organized by the Liberia Media Development Initiative (LMDI) program in collaboration with the Liberia Accountability and Voice Initiative (LAVI) held at the Monrovia Christian fellowship Church on 9th in street Sinkor, under the theme: “Liberia’s 2018-2019 budget: what’s in it for citizens.”
Johnson wondered what is the economic basis for the incumbent in the budget by the House of Representatives jumping the 2018/2019 budget from US$562million to US$570million.
Giving reliance for his statement, Johnson explained “when you do a comparative analysis of the country’s fiscal budget from 2006 to 2013 including the 2017/2018 fiscal budget, one would realize that the highest revenue generated in the country when the prices of commodities were good on the world market had been around US$559million including US$45.4million grants giving to government.”
He emphasized “excluding the grants from partners, government through the House of Representatives has done a little over US$426million incumbent in the budget as of May 31, 2018.”
He said this is “unrealistic and difficult” for government to achieve.
Johnson further wondered whether or not the incumbent of the 2018/2019 fiscal budget as approved by the House of Representatives was done based on facts and empirical evidence.
He indicated that Budget is based on clear indicators, and that budget should also be based on what happened in the last fiscal years in order to do a projection for the next fiscal year, saying “but if you cannot, as a government earmarked projects that raise the budget to such amount, then there is a room for questioning.”
It can be recalled that during the regime of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the national budget was around US$527million, but just within the first year of President’s Weah regime, the National Budget has been raised to US$570million.
On the issue of whether the budget is Pro-Poor driven or citizen’s center, Johnson graded government ‘fair’.
He recognized efforts by legislators for making additional projections within the budget that is expected to cater to the needs for citizens which he puts at US$1.7million.
The additional projections include roads connection which is around US$34.6 million; this Johnson wants government provides detail by spelling out road earmarked under this fund.
Bob Johnson in his word stated “those roads must be identified or clearly earmarked. For example, if you say you want to do the road from Grand Bassa County to Cesto City, it should be mentioned in the budget that you will spend two million to do that road.”
“You say you will do roads, health, agriculture that’s good, but can you give us the detail so that we all can check with the implementation. There are good policies on the book, but there is no implementation,” he further lamented.
The IREDD’s executive holds that this would enable citizens and civil society organizations do an analysis of monies spent in order for the country’s money to get values and not to be spent outside of what is being projected or appropriated within the budget.