Following little over two months of hearings, the House of Representatives, at a special session last Friday, passed the 2013/2014 Liberia National Budget. During the review process, the budget was augmented (from the initial US$533.262M submitted by the Executive Branch) to the amount of US$582.931M. The increment in the budget was a result of the identification of an additional US$29M in the revenue component of the budget at the time of the review process by the Committee on Ways, Means, Finance and Budget of the House of Representatives.
In consultation with the Executive Branch of Government during the budget hearing process, a number of key areas in the government to include education, electricity, health, elections, as well as the government’s resettlement Action Plan for the expansion of Paynesville/ Redlight- Ganta Highway and Paynesville/Redlight-Somalia Drive were prioritized. In the budget passed by the House of Representatives, even though a number of key areas, including health and education were prioritized, the issue of civil servants was given a “horse kick”. Health workers and teachers were placed at the core of the priorities of the Representatives, while civil servants were kept on the waiting list-perhaps because election for them will take place in 2017, and so, there was no need to concentrate on them for now.
We think the decision by members of the House of Representatives was very unfair and a complete misrepresentation of the people the claim to be representing. While they may have done well by finally listening to the concerns of teachers and health worker, as well as augmenting the salaries and benefits of the respective staff, it would have been more holistic and welcoming were they to include civil servants.
Even though the budget is now before the Liberian Senate, any decision there to favor civil servants may just be for political reasons, considering the fact that both the Senate and House connived during the 2012/2013 budget year to deny civil servants any increment in their salaries and benefits. Whatever the Liberian Senate intends to do with the budget currently to increase salaries and benefits of civil servants may not be from a sincere perspective, but to win favor from them only because of the 2014 Mid-Term Senatorial election in which fifteen of them would be participating.
Again, one can only be thankful to the Almighty God to appreciate the fact that atleast because of the Mid-Term election, “our Senators” are raising eye-brows at their colleagues in the House of Representatives for their failure to include civil servants, and may be thinking about doing something better for them- God is actually great.