The Government of Liberia has been hit by a budget shortfall of US$20 Million in an already cash-stricken economy.
Already, the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning along with the technical team of the Liberian Legislature through the Ways, Means, Finance and Budget Committees of both houses has commenced forecasting of the current 2019/20 national budget due to the shortfall.
Sources from the Finance and Development Planning Ministry, including the House of Representatives and the Senate Ways, Means, Finance and Budget Committees are now working out technical details in re-shifting national priorities to adjust the current realities facing the country.
Addressing significant shortcomings that have emerged in the budget process and expenditure controls, the source said, will be critical in coming months.
“In recent weeks, it has become clear that a significant number of road contracts were being implemented without corresponding budgetary allocations. The authorities are initiating external audits of the financial and technical aspects of these projects, and are working with relevant stakeholders to ensure commitments outside the budget do not occur again”, the source confided in this paper.
Though no reason yet provided for the shortfall, it is suspected that government has not generated the needed revenue projected from the revenue generating agencies here.
The source further narrated that the Liberia Revenue Authorities (LRA) and other revenue generating agencies are working tirelessly to ensure the US$530 projected in the current national budget is achieved.
“The forecasting of the budget means areas that were earlier captured with much financial attention will now be reduced to fit the current realities and that the hit of about US$20 million is big blow to the already struggling economy of a country that’s facing serious international aid drought,” the source said via mobile phone.
With the shortfall, government with full understanding and cooperation from the Liberian Legislature will revise the 2019/20 national budget focus points and redirect some to areas that may consume less money, but vital priority areas, including salaries and benefits will be retained.
Both authorities from the Finance and Development Planning Ministry and the Liberian Legislature seem unwilling now to comment on the speculation.But within matter of days the government is expected to introduce the forecasting process to the House of Representatives.
This is the biggest shortfall the Weah administration is experiencing. Last budget year, the government experienced a shortfall of US$8.2 million,after failure to collect US$31 million projected for the National Road Fund Fee to support the 2018/2019 Fiscal Budget.By E. J. Nathaniel Daygbor–Editing by Jonathan Browne