Liberia: President Weah Requests 22 Days Delay in Budget Submission

Monrovia — President George Manneh Weah has made a request to the national legislature for a twenty two-day delay in the submission of the country’s national budget.

The new Public Financial Management (PFM) Law in 2021 set the budget year from January 1 to December 30 (replacing July 1 to June 30) and that 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.

By this provision that calls for two months before the start of the fiscal. This means, the Executive branch of government is already behind the notice set by the Public Financial Act. Adding insult to injury, the Executive is requesting additional 22 days delay in the submission of the 2023 fiscal budget.

President Weah, in his communication assured 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 Public financial management law.

Explaining his reasons for the delay, the President said, the government of Liberia must conclude discussions regarding its next monitoring and fiscal policy course which are largely aimed at achieving micro-economic stability. Hence, 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 states: “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.”

The President’s Communication was rejected by Senator Abraham Darius Dillon (LP-Montserrado County) in a motion on grounds that justification for the deal is weak and any attempt to grant such request will give the legislature limited time to scrutinize the budget before its passage.

The debate became heated causing the Presiding Officer Senator Saah Joseph (CDC-Montserrado County) to seize the motion. However, the motion was defeated and a new one was filed allowing the Senate to accept the request.

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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