Legislature Receives Recast Budget for 2017/2018

MONROVIA, Montserrado – The 54th National Legislature has announced receipt of the 2017/2018 recast national budget.

According to a legislative release, the budget was submitted on Thursday, March 8 by President George Weah, for consideration.

According to the release, the recast budget stands at US$536.2 million, a US$27 million decrease from the original budget earlier approved by lawmakers.

The original budget that was also signed by President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf was US$563.5 million.

The release disclosed that Weah communicated to House Speaker Bhofal Chambers that as of January 31, 2018, the total revenue collected was US$231.6 million, equivalent to 41.1 percent of the total projected revenue.

“This includes US$226.8 million from domestic revenues and US$4.8 million from grants, thus resulting to an uncollected revenue of US$332 million,” the release said.

The release further noted that tax revenue accounts for US$401.4 million or 71.2 percent of the budget, while non-tax revenue accounts for US$100.4 million or 17.8 percent. At the same time, he noted that grants and loan account were US$54.9 million and US$9.7 million of the budget, respectively.

The recast budget will take affect from February 1 – June 30, 2018.

Members of the House of Representatives unanimously voted for the recast budget to be sent to the Joint Committee on Ways, Means, Finance and Development Planning and the Committee on Public Accounts and Expenditure. Those committees are expected to report to the body on Tuesday, March 12.

During his State of the Nation address, Weah announced that he had inherited a broke government and broken economy.

“Our economy is broken, our government is broke, our currency is in free-fall, inflation is rising, unemployment is at an unprecedented high, and our foreign reserves are at an all-time low,” he said at the time.

However, Weah’s predecessor, former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, told BBC in an interview that her administration left at least US$150 million in the government’s account.

Recently, the Executive Governor of the Central Bank of Liberia, Milton Weeks and Deputy Finance and Development Planning Minister for Fiscal Affairs, Samora Wolokollie appeared before plenary of the House of Representatives to give detail explanation on the actual status of the country’s economic status.

However, their separate accounts provided to the lawmakers created further confusion as they could not be easily reconciled.

Weeks revealed that there was US$5,637,000 in foreign currency and more than L$534 million in aggregate of the local currency accounts, was left into the government’s account, as of January 22, this year.

For his part, Wolokollie said up to January 31, the new administration met an amount of US$11,835,000 from reconciled account balances along with bank account statement for the last two fiscal periods.

He said the reconciled account balances and bank financial statements for the two periods amounts to more than L$642 million. According to Wolokollie’s revelation, the grand total from all government accounts in US dollars since January 31 is US$16,966,000.

Upon a request from Montserrado’s 16th district representative, Dixon Seboe, the House of Representatives voted to invite Finance Minister Samuel Tweah and the Central Bank of Liberia’s governor to provide detailed explanations on the country’s financial standing. Tweah was represented by his deputy minister for fiscal affairs.

Featured photo by David Stanley

Gbatemah Senah

Gbatemah is a graduate of the University of Liberia and a recipient of the Jonathan P. Hicks Scholarship for Mass Communications. In 2017, Senah won three Press Union of Liberia awards: Women's Rights Reporter of the Year, Legislative Reporter of the Year, and Land Rights Reporter of the Year. In 2018, he was also recognized as the Land Rights Reporter of the Year.

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