Finance Minister, Amara Konneh while addressing members of the House of Representatives on Tuesday disclosed that even if he were to collect all revenues for fiscal year 2013/2014, government would still experience US$7m shortfall.
He also informed the lawmakers that it also risks a total of US$74m uncollectible revenue that may not be collected by June 30, 2014.
However, Minister Konneh disclosed that Liberia’s economic outlook remains vulnerable to fluctuations in commodity prices particularly for its key exports, rubber and iron ore and China’s decreasing demand for both commodities.
Giving reasons for the continuous budget shortfalls in the budget, Minister Konneh admitted that there are challenges in revenue collection and there has been a sharp decline in the global commodity since 2012 which has negatively impacted domestic revenue generation, and this trend, he added is expected to continue over the next five years.
Among other things, Minister Konneh pointed out that rubber, the key export commodity of the agriculture sector, would be the most affected. On the other hand, prices of the key import commodities, rice and petroleum, have declined and expected to remain so. He said this could upset the lost export revenue with respect to the balance of payment depending on the growth rate of export and import volumes.
As Liberians, we are very concerned about the continuous budget shortfalls in the past two years and call for collective action among our leaders intended to find quick solution to this situation that is hurting not only the government but mainly the ordinary Liberians who have no other means of survival.
We are afraid that the economic situation especially the rise in prices of basic commodities due to the high US Dollar rate might have an adverse effect on the entire nation. It might also hamper government’s operations and the effectiveness of government.
That is why we are appealing to our leaders to stop politicizing this ugly situation which is now being referred to as economic crisis and deal with it collectively because the economy of the country is presently going down the drain and is likely to resort into something beyond our control. While we agree that there is separation of power in government, we appeal to members of the three branches of government to use their wisdom and act holistically and collectively in the interest of the people by ensuring that this situation does not extend beyond this point it has reached because anything contrary to that will be counterproductive to the survival of Liberia as a nation and its over three million population.
Again, we call on our political leaders to stop politicizing the Budget Shortfall issue and tackle it as a government and not as various branches of government because if the Executive fails, the entire government fails, hence that is why we want collective action to resolve this situation.