Monrovia – Action for Liberia’s Development (ALiD) said it is deeply concerned by the persistent delay in the submission of the country’s financial instrument, the draft national budget. Since its delayed submission, hearing on the draft budget is yet to commence.
ALiD has observed that over the past two (2) years submission of the draft budgets to the House of Representatives has been delayed for not less than two months thus leaving the august body with insufficient time to rigorously scrutinize the budget. The group believes managers of the country’s financial envelop should take due cognizance of the stipulated timeline for the submission of the draft budget as enshrined in the constitution to enable the national legislature conduct critical examination of the country’s purse.
Additionally, the group observes that parallel to delay in the budget submission, the executive branch has consistently failed to submit the framework paper of the draft national budget. Not only is the draft budget submitted late and the framework paper not submitted at all, according to the group, the national legislature has refused to compel spending entities to submit quarterly reports on expenditure – a violation of the Public Financial Management Law (PFML). As required by the constitution of Liberia, draft budget for the succeeding fiscal year should be submitted on April 30, but this has not been the case since the inception of the current regime. Liberia’s fiscal calendar begins July 1 and ends June 30th.
The group furthers that the country has key national priority issues, such as conduct of the December 8, 2020 Special Senatorial Elections (SSE) and national referendum, whose execution is contingent upon the budget passage.
As a pathway to addressing the constant budget delays, ALiD is recommending that the 54th National Legislature convenes a joint hearing that will bring together relevant institutions including the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning (MFDP), Liberia Revenue Authority (LRA), past government officials of those entities and civil society organizations to proffer recommendations that will change the culture of delayed budget submission.
Meanwhile, ALiD is urging the National Legislature to begin practical reform of the first branch of government in order to bring dignity to the body. Though House Speaker Dr. Bhofal Chambers and Senate Pro Tempore Albert Chie have assured comprehensive rebranding, it’s only on the lips.
ALiD encourages the National Legislature to fund the establishment of a website for the publication of key legislations for public access.