House Vows To Get US$73M…Denies Receiving 2014/2015 Draft Budget

By Alva Mulbah Wolokolie

In spite of the Liberian Senate’s action to reject the US$73m proposed, the Plenary of the House of Representatives has vowed to remain unwavering and assured residents of the 73 electoral districts in the country that under their leadership, the US$73m will be placed in the 2014-2015 National Budget for direct district projects.

The plenary of the House says despite the Senate’s rejection of the amount, it will not be frightened to do what it has already endorsed with a backing from Article 34(Di) of the Liberian constitution.

In January, 2014, House Speaker Alex J. Tyler proposed to his colleagues  for Plenary’s approval and the Liberian Senate’s concurrence of an amount of US$73,000,000.00 million to be placed in the 2014/2015 National Budget for direct district impact projects.

The House Plenary endorsed Speaker Tyler’s proposal as a result of their nationwide tour discussing the new oil law of Liberia where they observed that people in the rural areas are living in appalling condition which has drawn their attention. The document was then taken to the Senate for concurrence.

But unfortunately last week, the Liberian Senate vehemently rejected the House’s proposal on grounds that it violates provision of the country’s constitution which talks about administrative districts and not electoral districts as it is mentioned in the US$73m proposal. The Senate also argued that the House’s decision also contravenes the Public Financial Management Law of 2009.

At yesterday’s 30th day sitting of the 3rd session of the House, all of the 73 Representatives stood tall debating their previous commitments that appropriation comes from the House as highlighted in Article 34(Di) of the constitution.

Members of the House regretted writing a communication to the Senate because the proposal is not a Bill or Act but did it to show mutual respect and also in the spirit of coordination.

Several lawmakers including Gabriel Smith, Edwin Melvin Snowe, James Biney, Bill Twehway, Eugene Fallah Kparkar, Muna Pelphum among others reacted that Article 80(D) talks about electoral districts and therefore the House does not approve of the Senate to allot US$73m for direct development to the people of Liberia.

“We should not follow them; we are the true representation of the people. Article 34(D) gives us the authority to make appropriation. So, we will not be deterred by anyone to take development to the people,” Rep. Gabriel Smith said.

After several hours of debate, Montserrado County District # 17 lawmaker, William Darkel, proffered a motion that the US$73m is a gateway to development in the country and so the Legislative Budget Office (LBO) should begin to make preparation to include the amount to the 2014-2015 draft budgets when it arrives at the House.

In a related development, House Speaker Alex Tyler has disclosed that the House has not received the draft budget of 2014-2015 as it has been reported in the media.

According to him, the House expected the budget since April 30, 2014 in accordance with the Public Financial Management (PFM) Law of Liberia. Speaker Tyler said the PFM states that the budget should be accompanied by items highlighted in section 12(D) of the PFM Act before formally notifying the Legislators.