Liberia: House summons Finance Minister Over Delay in Submission of 2024 Draft Budget

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The House of Representatives has extended an invitation to the Minister of Finance and Development Planning, H. Boima Kamara, to appear before its full plenary and provide insights into the reasons behind the delay in submitting the draft budget for 2024.

The decision to summon the Finance Minister stems from a request made by Rep. Moima Briggs Mensah (District #6, Bong County), who emphasized the necessity of clarifying the causes for the delay in presenting the 2024 National Fiscal Budget.
According to the Liberia’s Public Financial Management Act, the President is mandated to submit the national budget to the Legislature no later than two months before the expiration of the current budget year.
However, the 54th Legislature returned the fiscal year 2024 draft budget, which had been prepared by the outgoing Weah-Taylor administration in December. This was to allow the incoming Boakai-Koung administration sufficient time to make necessary adjustments and realignments, aligning with the President’s 100-day deliverables.
While awaiting the resubmission of the budget from the Executive, President Boakai, in February, communicated a request to allocate US$41.3 million for the month to cover government expenses, including salaries for workers and other essential expenditures. The executive assured that the draft budget was still under preparation and would soon be submitted for legislative action.
The Legislature accepted the President’s request and passed a special budget amounting to US$41.3 million for February to prevent a government shutdown.
However, despite these measures, the executive has yet to submit the draft budget, and February has concluded. Rep. Moima Briggs Mensah brought this matter to the attention of the plenary, emphasizing the need to ascertain the reasons for the delay.
In her communication, Rep. Briggs reminded the plenary that the decision to return the draft budget to the Executive was made to facilitate coordination with the new administration and align with the President’s 100-day deliverables and the “ARREST” (Agriculture, Roads, Rule of Law, Education, Sanitation, Tourism) platform for government advancement.
“Today marks a 14-day delay in the submission of the National Fiscal Budget, and as representatives of the people, we must inquire about the reasons for such a delay without receiving formal communication from the plenary,” expressed Rep. Mensah.
During the session’s deliberations, Rep. Mensah urged urgent action to avoid negative consequences and urged colleagues to bring the Finance Minister before the body to discuss the matter and provide a definitive timeline for the budget’s submission.
“I urge my colleague to take this matter seriously and report back to the body with a concrete plan for the budget’s arrival. It is important to avoid any negative media attention and ensure the job of the Liberian people continues. Therefore, we should bring the Finance Minister to discuss the matter and provide a definite timeline for the budget’s arrival,” she said.
Chair of the Committee on Ways, Means, Finance, Rep. Dixon Seboe (District #16, Montserrado County), warned of a potential government shutdown if the executive continues to delay the submission of the budget.
“The primary concern here is that we have already allocated US$41.3 million to avert a crisis. And if we are unable to give the government any more money, the public may begin to think that the Legislature wants the government to shut down,” cautioned Rep. Seboe.
“If the budget is not submitted quickly, we won’t have enough time to discuss it, which would be a major problem.”
Rep. Musa Hassan Bility, (District #7, Nimba County), echoing these concerns, said this was the situation he feared when he opposed the passage of the special budget.
He highlighted the challenges posed by the lack of clarity regarding the budget’s submission timeline and the absence of the Finance Minister, currently out of the country, complicating matters further.
“Without any explanation as to when we will receive the budget, it becomes difficult to determine how long it will take us to deliberate on its passage. The Executive’s decisions have been overriding and causing delays. On Tuesday, we were informed that the Minister of Finance is currently out of the country and the Central Bank has no authority to disburse any funding for March. This puts us in a difficult position,” said Rep. Bility..

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