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Budget Bonanza (Pt-4)

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Budget Bonanza4Foreign Minister Augustine Kpehe Ngafuan is no doubt the face driving the country’s foreign policy. He says, he needs US504, 959.00, for foreign travel in the 2015/2016 national budget.

Not only that, but he also needs US523,000.00 as his foreign Daily Sustenance Allowance or DSA, bringing his total foreign travel expense to US1,027, 959.00, about US346,923.00 more than what he spent last year, excluding an incidental fee of US25,000 from a total budget of US14,713,834.00 for 2015/2016.

With the foreign travel it is quite understandable, but Ngafuan insists, he must also have US60,000 for domestic travel and US31, 000 as domestic DSA. As to whether he is going to use the total of US91,000 to explain the country’s foreign policies around here is unknown.

But what is known for sure is that while Ngafuan’s foreign and domestic travels budgets are witnessing significant increases, most of the country’s embassies abroad remain in derelict conditions, with our diplomats living in some of those countries like beggers.

The Foreign Ministry is one ministry with the highest telecommunication expense. The ministry’s telephone expense is put at US115,000.00.  Its electricity expense is another thing. One would think that this is so because it hosts that of the Office of the President and the Ministry of State – but you might be wrong.

The ministry plans to spend US120, 000.00 on electricity, in addition to fuel and lubricants for generator at US150,000, bringing the total to US270,000.00 to power the Foreign Ministry. If you think that was okay because the Ministry of State and the Office of the President is being housed in the same building, then take another look at the Ministry of State’s budget again. The ministry has US27,456, for electricity and US7000 for fuel and lubricants for its generator. Where it sets its generator, is a question that needs to be answered.

The Ministry of Finance and Development Planning is the biggest of them all, with a total budget of US60, 500, 632; most of its departments’ budgets are in the millions. Out of this budget, Minister Amara Konneh says he will spend US1000,000 (one million United States Dollars) on his national priority project – Private Sector Development. As to where in the private sector is undefined in his budget, but what is defined is that most Liberian owned businesses are dying all because the Liberian Government has deliberately refused to pay them money genuinely owed.

Minister Konneh says he will spend US30,000,000.00 to support the Poverty Reduction Support Development Policy. Well, it remains unclear which strategic areas this money will be spent and whether they will impact the poverty stricken population will be another thesis to write about this government. But Konneh is certain that US10,000,000.00 will be made available for 3-Year Budget Support Cooperation on reducing Greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD+) and developing Liberia’s agriculture sector. Konneh like many government officials will make foreign travels during the 2015/2016 budget period too. He says he will spend US270,000 on foreign travel with a DSA of US319,998.00, while the Prosecution Department at the Ministry of Justice gets just US1,800 for foreign travel with a meager sum of US1800 as DSA.

Konneh will also take US36, 750.00 as DSA in this fiscal budget. He has no budget for domestic travel but has a domestic DSA of US32,000.00. He says staff at his ministry must practice safe sex and promote gender equality. Therefore, it has a budget of US156,256.000 for gender and HIV/AIDS.

The ministry has a special budget for its communication office at US156.000. The Board of Tax Appeal, with a budget of US275.000, can only boast of a tax case involving the Government of Liberian and Lone Star Cell MTN during the last budget year.

The Monrovia City Corporations or MCC, with a budget of US2,265,489.00, says it will spend US1,602, 813 on its special project, as the remaining amount goes to Administration and Management. No wonder Mary Broh would take to cleaning the Mesurado River as her special project, walking away with US250,000.00.

The Paynesville City Corporation or PCC has a budget of US445,049.00. Of this amount, US302, 120 will be spent on salary alone, while US29, 196 will be used for professional fees. No wonder the Paynesville market sits in filths.

The General Auditing Commission or GAC, is one integrity institution, which is never void of controversy. The GAC has a budget of US5, 978,506 almost US6 million. Two items seem to require explanation – that is the GAC has as audit fee US650,000. It is not clear why it would be requesting audit fees and from whom? Officials at the GAC, like Vice President Boakai, also have about US70,125 for entertainment and gifts.

The Governance Commission is next. With a budget of US1,83, 894, Dr. Amos C. Sawyer says he will spend US99,000 on his national project too. He says his national project will be providing institutional and development support.

For just sitting and writing concept papers that the next government may keep on the shelf, the GC officials received US1,01, 461 in general allowance and US360,000 for special allowance besides salaries. Fuel and lubricants for their vehicles is put at over US100.000, while taxpayers will have to bear the burden of putting credits on phones and internet at the cost of US48, 383. By Othello B. Garblah

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