The leadership and members of the Liberian Senate are reportedly demanding six months’ pay and other benefits due them before debating the current draft national budget before them and passing it into law.
Information gathered so far from the corridors of the Capitol Building indicates that the Liberian government through the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning owes the Senate over six months’ gasoline and other benefits, including salary arrears for staffers.
Senators are arguing that the only option to force the government to clear the arrears is by holding onto the draft budget until authorities of the Finance Ministry can respond positively.The Liberian Senate is hugely indebted to staffers for about 17 months, something that staffers had protested for repeatedly. Last year, the senate paid four months against the 17 months’ salary arrears.
The leadership is also making it one of its demands to Finance Ministry authorities, to pay the remaining 13 months in order to start at new with staffers’ salaries and special allowance.However, when Senate President Pro-Tempore Albert Chie was contacted via mobile phone her dismissed it as, “False. The senate does not do such things,” he added.
Last Monday, the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning submitted to the Liberian Legislature the Special Draft National Budget for fiscal year July 01 to December 31, 2021 in the tone of US$301.5 million, consisting of only domestic revenue.Acting Finance Minister Dr. Samora P.Z. Wolokollie presented the draft fiscal instrument to House Speaker Bhofal Chambers on Tuesday.
The submission is in accordance with Section 65 of the amended Public Finance Management Act of 2009, which provides for the change in the fiscal year and for the formulation of a special national budget of six months to pave the way for transition to the new fiscal year, which begins in 2022.
Minister Wolokollie at the submission projected economic growth at 3.2 percent up from a slump of 3.0 percent in 2020, with recovery momentum continuing in 2022 at 4.0.
Priority areas of the special budget include agriculture, education, energy and environment, health, industry and commerce, infrastructure and basic services, security and rule of law, public administration and transparency and accountability. By E. J. Nathaniel Daygbor–Editing by Jonathan Browne