MONROVIA, Montserrado – The House of Representatives has passed a resolution to allow the Executive Branch to use US$47.5 million from the 2019/2020 budget, which has not yet been approved by the legislature.
The House took the decision based on a majority vote after a request from the minister of state for presidential affairs, Nathaniel McGill. McGill had asked the legislature to make the move in order to avoid the government having to shut down.
McGill wrote the House of Representatives arguing that such a resolution was necessary to allow the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning to spend above the legally allowed one-twelfth of the last year’s budget. Under the Public Financial Management Act, McGill said the government is only allowed to legally spend an additional US$1.8 million. He said that amount is not adequate for the month of August and could necessitate a shutdown.
“This request is prompted by the fact that from the US$47,500,000 allotted under the [Public Financial Management] law, US$45,633,310 has already been spent, leaving a balance of US$1,866,690 for government operations, which is grossly inadequate for the month of August,” he noted.
The law notes that when the legislature is unable to approve the national budget before the start of the fiscal year, the finance minister is authorized to approve expenditures in line with the proposed budget, but not more than one-twelfth of the previous fiscal year’s budget.
“I request the legislature’s prompt intervention because the US$47.5 million, which amounts to one-twelfth of last year’s budget of US$570 million has almost been exhausted,” McGill wrote. “The President urges you to treat this as a matter of urgency.”
The request was granted by the House following a motion from Lofa’s third district representative, Clarence Massaquoi.
“Being cognizant of the fact that shutting down the government means civil servants will not be paid or shutting down the government means our kids will not go to school or shutting down the government means the ministries of Public Works, Health, and Gender will not run the day-to-day affairs of the government and being here under the sole purpose of serving our people, I move – if I can obtain seconded – that this request sent to us by the executive be granted and this plenary take a decision to approve and authorize the usage of one-twelfth of the previous budget pending the passage of the 2019/2020 budget,” Massaquoi said in his motion.
The resolution has been sent to the Senate for concurrence. If the Senate approves the resolution, the government will begin spending an additional US$47.5 million.
Featured photo by Zeze Ballah