Troubling budgetary year
House Speaker Emmanuel James Nuquay has signaled that the current 2016/17 National Budget is seriously facing troubling times that need quick intervention to repair financial crisis being faced by the nation.
Addressing a news conference in Monrovia over the weekend, Speaker Nuquay said from July to November 30, this year, the government was only able to generate US$159 million, which represents 27 percent of the US$600 million projected for the entire fiscal year.
According to the Speaker, the government is yet to raise the remaining US$1441 million that constitutes 73 percent of the national budget. The 2016/17 budget of US$623million was passed by the Liberian Legislature in September, following delay due to leadership crisis in the House of Representatives.
Plenaries of both the Liberian Senate and the House overwhelmingly voted in favor of the budget based on recommendations from the Joint Committee of the Legislature on Ways, Means, Finance and Development Planning and Public Accounts, chaired by Bong County Representative Prince Moye.
The Executive submitted a Draft Budget of US$555.9million but additional revenues were realized during the budget hearing on Capitol Hill thereby, leading to an increase of about US$67.1million to be generated in the fiscal year, which has affected the budget allotments to some ministries and governmental agencies. It is yet to be established if there is any increment in civil servants’ salaries. The fiscal year runs from July 1, 2016 to June 30, 2017.
Nuquay bluntly said indicators surrounding the national budget are troubling, and need some fast measures to in place to avoid further hardship.
He said due to bad shape of the economy, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf called for a retreat with legislators, adding that based on information provided by heads of revenue generating agencies of government, the Legislature has already taken some measures by increasing taxes on some commodities.
Speaker Nuquay warned that if the prevailing situation persists, it might be difficult for the current national budget to be executed completely, which could lead to an eventual shortfall.
By E. J. Nathaniel Daygbor-Editing by Jonathan Browne