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Editorial: Draft Nat’l Budget Must Undergo Readjustment on Capitol Hill

The Executive Branch of the Government, through the Ministry of Finance seems to be very restless in its attempts to put an end to the debate on its 2012/2013 draft national budget. The budget, currently before the Legislature, continues to face serious criticisms and condemnations from the public and some members of the Liberian Legislature.

The President Pro Tempore of the Senate, Grand Bassa County Senator Milton Findley, perhaps being dissatisfied with its entire nature, condemned the budget as “bundles of papers with huge figures without interpretations,” suggesting his dissatisfaction over the unjustifiable manner and form the budget was drafted. A few other members of the House of Representatives also described the budget as a misrepresentation of the interest of ordinary Liberians.

Perhaps sensing the next action by the Lawmakers on Capitol Hill on the basis of their harsh reactions to the budget, Finance Minister Amara Konneh thought to host a “lunch meeting” with members of the 53rd Legislature on Wednesday, July 4, 2012 to again convince the Legislators to pass the budget.

Even though the undue publicity given the “lunch meeting” may have been inappropriate and disrespectful from the perspective of the lawmakers, the meeting was still held on Wednesday, July 4, 2012 at the Capitol, according to informed sources at the Legislature and Finance Ministry.

Whether or not the Minister of Finance succeeded in “kajoring or kabuluring” the Senators and Representatives in ‘whatever manner and form’ to pass the budget, it is left to the consciences of members of the 53rd Legislature for the most appropriate decision on the 2012/2013 draft budget. Having discovered a number of flaws in the budget and probably, the motives, it was now incumbent on members of the 53rd Legislature to effect some readjustments to reflect the interest of ordinary Liberians.

This is why many well-meaning Liberians continue to appeal to the wisdom of the Legislature to ensure that the budget is characterized by impact-making priorities for the ordinary people and not the few whose primary interest is to financially capacitate themselves in preparedness for the continuity of life in the United States or Europe at the end of the government or the next political season come 2017.

The lawmakers must remain resolved on the issues against the budget, ensuring that it is scrutinized and readjusted to reflect the general interest of Liberians. Such readjustment must also prioritize increased salaries and benefits for civil servants, including state security personnel and medical practitioners across the country.

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