President George M. Weah has pleaded with the National Legislature for a twenty two-day delay in the submission of the country’s Fiscal Year (FY) 2023 National Budget.
However, this latest appeal from the Liberian leader is in total contravention of the New Public Financial Management (PFM) Law in 2021 which set the FY budget year from January 1 to December 30 thus replacing the July 1 to June 30 budget year.
The PFM law of 2021 states: “The President of the Republic of Liberia shall submit the proposed Budget and accompanying documents to the Legislature no later than two months before the start of the Fiscal Year, thereby requiring the Legislature to be in Session.”
Additionally, Via this provision that calls for two months before the start of the fiscal year, this means, the Executive branch of government is already behind the notice set by the Public Financial Act, by the Executive requesting additional 22 days delay in the submission of the 2023 fiscal budget
But the Liberian Chief Executive, in his communication to that august assured the Lawmakers that despite the request for delay, the budget will be prepare and ready for its January 1, 2023, implementation as stated in the new fiscal policy of the PFM law.
Justifying his reasons for the delay, President Weah maintained that his government must conclude discussions regarding its next monitoring and fiscal policy course which are largely aimed at achieving micro-economic stability.
Therefore, as a follow-up to the recent discussions at the World Bank annual meeting, an IMF fifth review mission under the government of Liberia extended credit facility program is in Monrovia to conclude its assessment of our micro-economist development and performance and our fiscal policy outcomes and projection for the ensuing fiscal year.
The President’s communication further, “Under the ECF program negotiation by ensuring adequate funding for the 2023 general and presidential elections, addressing an extra budgeting pressure to subsidize the current rice situation in the country as well as fund government institutions in order to remain operational without causing disruption during the elections.”
“It is important to also state that the severity of the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and the ongoing war in Ukraine on our domestic economy continued decline in the global commodities prices and coupled with expenditures demands on our meager domestic resources cannot be overemphasized but we remain committed to addressing these challenges,” he said.
President Weah in his communication added, “So, it is my hope that the additional time requested will allow us to formulate a realistic and comprehensive FY2023 National Budget that reflects our current realities.”
“And during this extended period, I have instructed the Minister of Finance to commence sustained engagements with the Legislature and all spending entities in order to ensure a wider consultations and inputs to the formulation of the budget,” he noted.
Meanwhile, following the reading of the President’s communication, a motion was then proffered by Representative P. Mike Jury of Maryland County to accept and invite the Minister Finance to explain further on reason behind the appeal for extension of the budget submission.
It can be recalled that in 2021 the legislature passed a bill titled: “An Act to Amend Section 1 of an Act Fixing Day for the Annual Adjournment of the Legislature of the Republic of Liberia. And to establish in lieu thereof “An Act Setting the Calendar of Adjournment for the Legislature.”
According to the proposed bill, there will be three adjournment and recess periods (also known as constituency visit/break). “The first constituency visit/break shall commence on the third Friday of March of each year and end on the second Friday of May of each year,” the bill states.
“The second constituency visit/break shall commence on the third Friday of July of each year and end on the third Friday of October of each year; while the third constituency visit/break shall commence on the second Friday of December of each year and end on the Friday immediately preceding the second working Monday of January of each year in order to satisfy Article 32 (a) of the Constitution of Liberia.”
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