Liberia’s first draft multi-year budget faces serious crisis at the National Legislature, thereby making the Capitol Building to find it difficult to smoothly pass the budget into law.
Besides the complications associated with the draft budget due to its new fiscal phenomenon in Liberia, criticisms, war of words, media attacks and claims and counter-claims between both Houses of the National Legislature in recent time have brought setback to the passage of the draft budget.
As usually done, the budget was expected to be passed before the country’s Independence Day which was celebrated last week Thursday. Delays in the passage of the draft budget have not only hampered salary payment for government’s employees, it has also brought development activities in the country to a standstill.
Having realized this backdrop and the propensity of bringing them to public disrepute, members of both Houses have resolved to smoke a ‘peace pipe’ to pave way for the speedy deliberations and passage of the draft budget, according to documents, which copies the In Profile possesses. The Senate earlier wrote the House, calling for resolution into the matter, while the House responded affirmatively.
The communication from the Senate, through its Committee on Revenue, Ways, Means, Finance & Budget, dated July 2, 2012, informed the Lower House of attacks against each other ( Senate and House of Representatives), noting that such trends were inimical to their work, and that it was important to find a solution in order to protect the image of the first branch of government.
“Members of the Houses of Representatives and the Senate were elected by popular suffrage of citizens and residents of their respective localities to advance and protect their interest at all times. My experience since taking seat at the Liberian Senate in January 2012 has shown that often time legislators openly criticize each other mostly during radio talk shows. While I accept the fact that the divergence of views on issues is healthy in a democratic society, I also strongly feel and believe that such timing is not proper,” the Chairman of Senate Committee on Revenue, Ways, Means, Finance & Budget, Grand Gedeh County Senator, G. Alphonso Gaye noted in the communication.
To ensure a coherent and speedy passage of the budget, Senator Gaye suggested a joint committee of both Houses to review the draft national budget; something he termed as ‘traditional method.’
Responding, the House of Representatives, through its leadership, in a communication dated July 10, 2012, concurred with the Senate that both Houses revert to reviewing the budget jointly.
According to the communication signed by House’s Chief Clerk, Mildred N. Sayon, the Lower House acknowledged of receiving letter from the Senate and issues highlighted.
“In view of the above, and given the fact that the House has earlier thought of putting into place mechanisms to expeditiously review and pass into law the National Draft Budget, I am further directed to inform the Liberian Senate through your office that the House’s Plenary has agreed that the both Houses’ Committees on Ways, Means & Finance work together to ensure the speedy passage of the Budget,” the House’s Chief Clerk said.
Be as it may, the budget is far from receiving its blessing from the lawmakers as resolution of issues that arose between the two Houses requires time and energy.
Also, it is not clear when the joint review of the budget, as proposed and agreed by both the Upper and Lower Houses will begin.
Pundits say it is now important that the lawmakers restore sanity among themselves in order to assiduously deliberate and subsequently pass the budget.