By Ethel A Tweh
The President Pro-Tempore of the Liberian Senate Albert T. Chie says, the government has allotted no money for the two months’ extra sitting of the senate.
Senators here are accustomed to receiving money from the Executive each time they come for extra sitting, and this pronouncement by the Pro-Temp could be a strange departure.
Speaking at the opening ceremony of the Special Session on Tuesday, October 19, 2021, Senator Chie thanked his colleagues for cutting their Annual Break short to return to the Capitol in the interest of their people.
He recalls that the Senate closed on 31st August for the fourth session of the 54th Legislature, but had to cut their Annual Break to deliberate on the 2022 National Budget which should come into force on January 1, 2022, and other issues of national concerns, including security.
Pro-Tempore Chie explains that in line with the amended Public Financial Management Act, the new fiscal period starts from January 1 each year and ends on December 31 of the same year.
“The most cardinal purpose for which this Special Session is being convened is to work on the proposed 2022 National Budget which will be submitted to the Legislature by the President of Liberia shortly”, he adds.
He notes that Article 34(d) of the Constitution of Liberia empowers the Legislature to make an appropriation for the fiscal governance of the Republic. “I, therefore, challenge the ways, means, finance and budget committees of both chambers of the Legislature to take seize of the budget process.”
He says although the Legislature should cooperate with the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning in the budget process, they should always remember that appropriation is the responsibility of the Legislature and the people will hold them accountable for the performance of the budget and its implementation, as they also have oversight responsibilities.
“We have had several discussions in plenary on the need for a program based budget, it is time to implement this.”
Chie notes that in the past fourth session, the Senate plenary approved a proposal for Annual Budget Allotment for Infrastructure Development within the political subdivisions, adding “It is a hard time that the decision is implemented starting with the 2022 National Budget.”
He says with good indications coming from the fiscal managers of the economy that domestic revenue is performing, the Legislature needs to increase significantly the budgets for security, health, and education and consider significant appropriation for human trafficking, fight against sexual and gender-based violence, and other national priority programs such as the recent investment proposal from the University of Liberia.
However, the Pro-Tempore clarifies that the Liberian Senate does not approve or concur with laws and amendments to the law which are not in the public interest, most especially when it comes to protection and distribution of natural resources, in an apparent reference to the recently amended Mineral Development Agreement signed between the Executive and steel giant, ArcelorMittal Liberia, pending ratification.https://thenewdawnliberia.com/traditional-chiefs-risk-senate-inquiry/ Editing by Jonathan Browne