NOCAL Boycotts Budget Hearing

By Alva M. Wolokolie

The National Oil Company of Liberia (NOCAL) which was expected to submit its operational budget to the committee on Ways, Means and Finance to explain its revenue components of the 2013/2014 draft budget has boycotted the public hearings currently taking place at the Capitol Building.

The Committee on Ways, Means and Finance of the House of Representatives has already begun reviewing and critically analyzing the 2013/2014 Draft National Budget aimed at defining the accurate financial position of the country to realign the President’s priorities .

During the official recognition of line ministries and autonomous agencies yesterday by the Committee’s Chairperson Rep. Emmanuel Nuquay, there was no official written excuse from NOCAL to show reason why the entity could not appear before that body.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Ministry of Public Works, Commerce, Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Finance and the National Oil Company were all expected to appear before that committee yesterday. Besides NOCAL, all of the other ministries were in attendance.

At the opening, Rep. Emmanuel Nuquay of Margibi County said that recommendations from the various committees of the House are being gathered to inform the Way, Means and Finance Committee’s recommendation to Plenary.

Plenary of the House upon receiving the Draft Budget for 2013/2014 , in early May 2013 , mandated the various Statutory and Standing Committees to conduct budget hearings with their respective oversight agencies and ministries and submit the observations to the Appropriation Committee.

These hearings will concentrate on whether all revenue and income in the 2012/2013 Budget were deposited in the Consolidated Funds Account at the Central Bank as required by Section 7 of the Revenue Law of Liberia.

Over thirty five (35) revenue generating ministries and agencies will present their revenue projections and strategies to capture more revenue for the National Envelop of Liberia.

The hearing continues until Friday, June 28, 2013 with the Legislative Budget Office (LBO) providing technical support to the Committee.

House Spokesperson is quoted in a release that the Ways, Means and Finance Committee will ensure that the process of vetting the President’s Draft Budget is opened and participatory.

The expenditure component which would explain how the public money is expected to be spent will be preceded by the hearing on the revenue.

Performance report of the 2012/2013 Budget of each spending entity is a requirement for appearance of line ministries and agencies of government at these hearings,” Mr. Isaac Redd said.

When the INQUIRER decided to contact the public relations office of NOCAL via telephone yesterday evening to ascertain why the oil company did not show up, the number rang endlessly.