The current situation at the Capitol with lawmakers approving 1/12 spending of the FY2019/2020 draft national budget for the second time, pending formal endorsement of the financial instrument clearly indicates the Weah administration is sinking deeper into deficit spending.
Apprehensions abound that by the time the 54th Legislature approves the draft budget, it would have already been exhausted before the next fiscal period which begins in June, 2020.
Last week, the Executive thru the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning informed the Legislature that it had expended the first 1/12 of the proposed budget, and warned that if another 1/12 were not approved in accordance with the Public Financial Management (PFM) law, the entire government risks shut down.
Accordingly, members of the House of Representatives Tuesday approved another 1/12, representing US $47,500,000 of the proposed budget to enable government to operate smoothly, pending full enactment by the Legislature.Some of the current challenges surrounding the budget may be attributed to delays in the first place by the Executive in submitting the draft budget in time, which should have been somewhere between April and May this year.
But the Executive submitted the financial instrument to the Legislature in June for scrutiny, which actually marks the start of the fiscal period. The House of Representatives is presently conducting hearings for Ministries and Agencies amid the repeated request for 1/12 of the unapproved budget for expenditure.
The point is, by the time the House approves the budget and forward it to the Liberian Senate for concurrence, it might well been exhausted months before end of the fiscal period, leading to huge deficit spending in an economy that should practice austerity spending. What a paradox!
Only heaven knows when Liberians would get themselves out of this quagmire and put the economy in the right trajectory for growth and prosperity.
The government recently announced some austerity measures such as curtailing unnecessary travels by officials, aimed at controlling spending. But the President himself led a very huge delegation to the just-ended Tokyo International Conference on African Development or TICAD
The Liberian delegation left here for Tokyo, Japan days before the official start of the conference, which means spending more than is economically prudent at a forum meant to beg for assistance. The lack of discipline in our fiscal operations poses pressure on the national budget is being experienced at the Capitol.