What Happened to the 2022 Fiscal Budget? -Lawmakers Raise Red Flag over Budget Status

The House of Representatives passed into law the 2022 National Budget on December 16, 2021, and the Senate concurred with the House decision on February 8, 2022, paving the way for the Government of Liberia to execute Liberia’s biggest post-war budget. But since the passage of the US$786.587 Million National Budget, concerns are mounting, particularly in the corridors of the Legislature, as to the status of the budget since it was sent back to the Executive for approval and publication into handbills.

Some members of the Senate say they are no longer prepared to push the issue under the rug, as some have started to voice their dissent over the prolonged approval and publication of the National Budget to make it a working legal instrument that will be used to drive government’s development agenda for Fiscal Year January 1 – December 31, 2022.

According to Montserrado County Senator Abraham Darius Dillon, the Senate can no longer ignore the delays from the Executive in formalizing the budget that the Legislature has already passed and concurred.

“Since the Legislature passed the 2022 National Budget early February, there is no record to show that it has been approved, signed and printed by the President of Liberia in keeping with Law. Sadly, nearly six months since passage of the 2022 National Budget by the Legislature, no APPROVED, SIGNED and PRINTED Budget,” a visibly angry Senator Dillion informed his colleagues during last Tuesday’s plenary session.

He said the Senate has made several requests and demands to see and have a copy of the printed Budget but to no avail.

“The latest of our call for the printed Budget was yesterday at and during plenary sitting of the Senate. This will be part of our agenda for Plenary at our next sitting tomorrow, including the status of the verified domestic listing. We will not rest!!!” Senator Dillon blasted.

Touching on the Budget reporting cycle as prescribed by law, Senator Dillon lamented over the Ministry of Finance deliberate refusal to submit a Quarterly Budget Performance Report.

“We are well into the 2nd Quarter of the Budget Year with absolutely no Quarterly Budget Performance Report of the 1st Quarter as required by Law. The Finance Minister has failed to submit the Quarterly Report to the Legislature in keeping with the Public Financial Management Law (PFML) of Liberia that mandates submission of a Quarterly Budget Performance Report. We will continue to demand to have these reports in keeping with our oversight function to ensure check and balance, transparency and accountability,” Dillon stated emphatically.

For his part, Grand Cape Mount County Senator Varney Gboto Nambi Sherman bemoaned the disconnect between the Executive and the Legislature, for which he blamed the ongoing delay in formalizing the budget.

“There is a disconnect between the Executive and the Legislature. The law is, once the President approves and signs the Budget, it should be published and copies sent to us. But when no copy is sent to us, then we have to presume that is not yet law. We can’t tell our constituents anything until we have an approved and published budget,” Senator Sherman stated matter-of-factly.

Pundits are of the opinion that further delays from the Executive in finalizing the budget sooner could jeopardize implementation of the programs under the Government’s ambitious 2022 National Budget.

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