The Ellen Johnson Sirleaf Administration has submitted what is expected to be its last budget to the Liberian Legislature in the tune of US$526.5M for Fiscal Year 2017/2018, a 12.3 percent reduction from last fiscal year’s US$600.2M approved for 2016/2017.
Presenting the Draft Budget to the Legislature on Monday, 22 May Deputy Finance and Development Planning Minister, Tanneh Brumson, says this year’s budget reflects 3.5 percent decrease on the end -of-year forecast of US$545.5m.
House Speaker J. Emmanuel Nuquay, who received the draft instrument, notes that in line with law, government should have presented the budget on 30 April. With just a little over seven months to the end of the Sirleaf Administration, Speaker Nuquay says the 2017/2018 fiscal budget is not yet late, assuring the Executive Branch that the Legislature will ensure that the budget is done in time for the conduct of the October elections.
Despite citing challenges and constrained fiscal space, Deputy Finance Minister Madam Brumson had earlier said the FY2017/2018 National Budget has been prepared in a framework, which addresses critical public expenditure demands as the country faces two major transitions, including the 2017 Presidential and Legislative elections and the UNMIL drawdown.
The Finance official says the formulation of the draft National Budget has been exceptionally constrained, not only by the impacts of slow post-Ebola economic recovery and unfavorable external and domestic macroeconomic conditions, but also the increasing expenditure demands placed on it.
According to her, government remains committed to the delivery of critical public services, as well as completion of ongoing projects in line with the national development roadmap, agenda for transformation.
Minister Brumson notes that the Liberian economy, like most other economies in the world, especially Africa, is experiencing some turbulence due to large part, the global economic downturn.
She assures legislators on Capitol Hill that government is confident that the economy will withstand the test of the moment and is highly poised to come out stronger than before.
“However, this will not happen by chance; we will have to make tough decisions in both the short and medium terms, not only within the Executive, but also in the Legislative and Judicial branches of Government”, she adds.
Madam Brumson concludes that in the short time, government will continue to apply fiscal measures to control expenditure and demonstrate to Liberia’s partners its commitment to the priorities here in an effort to attract support.
By Bridgett Milton -Edited by Winston W. Parley