Members of the Liberian Senate are seeking financial autonomy for the first branch of government. Towards this goal, Bong County Senator Jewel Howard-Taylor submitted a bill for possible passage to enable the Liberian Legislature to be more independent.
According to a communication dated June 23, 2016 attached to the bill, the other two branches of government – Executive and Judiciary, exercise financial autonomy, experiencing leverage, latitude and decisiveness in financial decision-making and program implementation.
The Bong County Senator indicated that it was very difficult of the Legislative Branch to function efficiently under the present financial administrative arrangement wherein the Executive Branch subjects the Legislature to un-necessary bureaucratic process, which impedes its smooth administration.
According to the bill, financial autonomy was in compliance with the allotment process of the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning. According to the bill, the decision was also in compliance with all provisions of the Public Procurement and Concession Act of 2005 and meets international best practice, couple with accounting principles and procedures, laws and procedures of the General Auditing Commission, regarding to submission to audit in a statutory period.
The bill also requests that each House of the Liberian Legislature maintains a financial section headed by a Director of Finance who, in consultation with the head of the secretariat of the two Houses, shall have overall responsibility for professional administration of the budget of the House for which such Director of Finance is employed.
The bill further stated that in compliance with the Financial Autonomy Act, the amounts allotted by the Department of the Budget from time to time to each House of the Legislature, excluding salaries, taxes and payments for social security, shall be directly deposited by the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning into the current operating accounts of the respective Houses.
“It shall remain the legal responsibility of the ministry to prepare and provide each employee of the Legislature a statement of income for tax purpose,” the bill indicated. Senator Taylor, through a bill, maintained that the annual accounts of the each house shall, in collaboration with the head of the Legislative Budget Office, be prepared and audited by the comptroller of each House and thereafter, presented to the Statutory Committee on Rules, Order and Administration for review and validation, and subsequently presented to the Plenary of the House concerned for information and action.
By E. J. Nathaniel Daygbor