By Alva M. Wolokolie
The House of Representatives has approved the draft national budget of US$582,0939M for the fiscal period 2013/2014 with an increment of extra US$29.66M that would buttress government’s developmental agenda to settle some financial problems with over 5,000 health and teachers. In May 2013, the Executive Branch of government through the Ministry of Finance officially presented the draft national budget of US$553M, for the fiscal year 2013/2014 to the 53rd Legislature with no funding provided for the construction of new roads in the country.
Key areas of investment in the draft budget presented to the Legislature in May 2013 included salaries and wages US$206M, goods and services US$124.5M, energy US$15.3M, roads and bridges US$23.7M, ICT US$3.5M and youth development US$5M. Other areas prioritized by the Executive were capacity building US$3M, health US$11M, education US$15M, security US10M, Water and Sanitation (WASH) US$3.2M and reconciliation US$2M.
On Friday, August 9, 2013, several hours after an extraordinary executive session was held by members of the House of Representatives, Margibi County Representative and Chairman on the House Standing Committee on Ways, Means and Finance, Emmanuel Nuquay reported to plenary that after several months of scrutiny of both the revenue and expenditure component of the 2013/2014 draft budget, it was necessary that his committee reports to plenary for subsequent passage.
Rep. Nuquay told plenary that although the Executive presented to the Legislature US$553M as 2013/2014 draft budget, the Ways, Means and Finance Committee were able to identify other source of revenue from motor vehicle taxes in the tone of US2.5M, LTA license fees US$10M, tax revenue US$8.8M among others which summed to additional US$29.66M.
The Margibi County lawmaker said the additional amount indentified to the previous US$553M budget presented, would be used by the Finance Ministry to tackle issues affecting thousands of teachers and health workers who have been on go-slow action in the country.
After his presentation, a motion was filed by Lofa County Representative Eugene Fallah Kpakar that the report from the committee on Finance representing the proposed budget 2013/2014, be passed and sent to the Senate for concurrence.
The motion was seconded and passed with 40 lawmakers voting for, none against and 2 abstentions. House Speaker Alex Tyler then instructed the Chief Clerk of the House to take the instrument to the Senate for either an amendment or concurrence.
Speaker Tyler, minutes after the passage of the budget, told Legislative reporters that the House could not increase any payment for civil servants or staff of the Capitol Building due to key national issues that were prioritized.
Speaker Tyler said the US$25 proposed by President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf at the state of the nationwide address has been maintained. As a result of this, Speaker Tyler indicated that no increment has been made in civil servants salaries for 2013/2014 fiscal year.