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Avoiding Further Delays in the Budget Passage

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The leadership of the Liberian Legislature has reportedly signed a joint resolution for the extension of the stay of both Houses for additional two weeks. The decision, in keeping with rules of the Legislature giving its members the statutory mandate to take an annual agricultural break for six months, is intended to fast-track the passage of the 2013/14 National Budget and Election Bill.

“There are two vital bills before us that should be passed before taking the break- the national budget and the election bill; Failure on our part to pass these bills, it might create some near-future embarrassment functions and smooth conduct of the 2014 election,” said Maryland County Senator Dan Morais who presided over  a recent Senate Planer at the Capitol. The disclosure by Senator Morais, Chairman of the Senate’s Foreign relations Committee, came a few weeks after the House of Representatives had passed the National Budget and Election Bill and sent seem to the Liberian Senate.

Even though the Senate may have had some qualms with certain aspects of the budget, including the issue of augmenting the salaries of civil servants-something the Senators would have taken at least a week to resolve, the two documents continued to languish within the corridors of the Liberian Senate to the detriment of the country’s progress.

While many would appreciate the extension, the setting up of a conference committee, as disclosed by the Senate’s Foreign Relations Committee Chair, may further delay the passage of the Budget and Bill, probably due to the ‘hauling and pulling’ on the issue of the salaries of civil servants, which the House of Representatives did not address, except for health workers and teachers. Many may have thought that while the budget hearing was in progress, Senators who had now developed ‘deep interest’ in civil servants, would have quietly engaged/lobbied some of the colleagues in the House as a way of resolving this matter.

While the Senators may  have “good intention” for Liberian civil servants, as the conference committee is yet to begin work, while members of the House are also raising a counter-argument to the desire of the Senators, such good is may further delay the process and even result to another extension.

However, we can only appeal to both members of the Senate and House of Representatives and their Joint Conference Committee to ensure a speedy passage of the budget and election bill so as to avoid further delays in the implementation of our national projects and programs. Even though we do appreciate the two-week extension, all must be done in the shortest possible time for a common ground in the interest of the people of Liberia.

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