MONROVIA, Montserrado – On Tuesday June 26, the House of Representatives passed the 2018/2019 National Budget at US$570 million, sending the bill to the Senate for concurrence.
According to the chairman on the Ways, Means, and Finance Committee, Rep. Thomas Fallah, the committee conducted a vigorous and thorough scrutiny of the draft national budget by ensuring a comprehensive and participatory review of both revenues and expenditures.
Fallah said the review involved the legislature, the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning, line ministries and agencies, civil society organizations, and the public.
He noted that lawmakers identified an additional US$8 million in revenues, pushing the budget up from the initial US$562 million that was submitted in the draft budget by the executive branch.
It is not clear whether the expected increase in revenues is considering the tariff reductions President George Weah announced on basic imported commodities. The Information Ministry had noted that the reductions are in the range of 40 to 81 percent for more than 2,000 “widely consumed” commodities.
While one lawmaker abstained from voting, 52 lawmakers voted to pass the budget, and no one voted against.
Rep. Yekeh Kolubah of Montserrado’s 10th district abstained from voting.
“I will let the public know in a short and possible time why I did not vote in support of the passage of the Year 2018/2019 Draft National Budget,” said Kolubah, who previously announced a plan to run for senator of Montserrado in the upcoming by-elections.
“I’m going back to my district to tell my people why I abstained from the process because I owe explanation to my people.”
He said the speaker of the House of Representatives did not allow him to state his issues with the budget on the floor of the House.
Featured photo by Ida Reeves