Statutorily, it is required that the draft national budget be submitted to the legislature by May each year to enable lawmakers conduct due diligence, which includes heads of line ministries and agencies appearing before the Legislature’s joint committees on Ways, Means and Finance to give account of public funds entrusted into their care respectively, and for the public to make import on how the national cake should be shared.
President Sirleaf in a one-page letter dated April 22, 2015, said cited the critical issue of the state of preparing the national budget, and therefore requested for an extension of the deadline for the submission of the draft budget for fiscal 2015/16 from April 30 to May 31, 2015.
The President noted that in her last Annual Massage, she highlighted the impacts of the Ebola Virus Disease on all vital national institutions, especially Health, Education and social infrastructure, which severely weaken their service delivery capabilities.
“While the government’s unified effort in confronting the Ebola Virus has resulted in its almost total eradication, the economic impact of the outbreak will last long after Liberia is declared Ebola free,” the communication to the House read.
According to her, these economic effects already have budgetary repercussions, which will continue to impact the effort to restore those affected social services and institutions.
The Liberian leader explained that the Liberian economy will grow by less than one percent in 2015, compared to 5.9% projected before the EVD outbreak.
She told the lawmakers that the tax base will shrink so that the core domestic revenue forecast for fiscal year 2015/16 is US$440 million, compared to the earlier forecast of US$468 million.
“Moreover, external resources through grants and borrowing for budgeting support are projected at US$89.8 million. This is US$118.2 lower than the budget support for fiscal year 2014/15, as most donor partner’s front loaded their support to fiscal year 2014/15 in order to help the government combat the EVD,” she asserted through the communication.
President Sirleaf maintained that the net effect of these unfavorable forecasts is that the preliminary estimates for the 2015/16 national budget is US$40.6 million a total resource envelope. “Of this amount, US$482 million represents core revenue (tax and non-tax revenue and grants) while US$58.6 million is identified financing, domestic and external,” the letter added.
Meanwhile, plenary of the House of Representatives has forwarded the communication to the Ways, Means and Finance Committee to advise plenary within two weeks.
By E. J. Nathaniel Daygbor