The USAID funded Liberia Media Development Program (LMD) in collaboration with its partners today held a one day National Community Media forum of the Country’s 2018/2019 Budget.
Today, the Upper House concurred with the Lower House over the passage of the budget which is now being sent to the president for approval.
The Budget was passed in the tone of 570,148.000 Million with a slight increment of additional 8million dollars.
This year’s budget focuses on four keys areas: Education, Health Infrastructure and Agriculture, respectively.
According to the House Committee Member on Ways, Means, and Finance, Rep. Francis Dopoh of Rivergee County, no matter how we cut on figures emanating from the executive branch, the government will still be addressing the issue of poverty which is Pro-Poor sensitive.
Rep. Dopoh noted that the 8million increment was due to citizens’ needs in the four cardinal areas of government’s focus.
“The budget submitted to the National Legislature was at 562 million and we did our analysis and we passed the budget at 570million”.
He noted that the budget came from the executive with a huge sum of allocation in the tone of 75million for ‘Public Sector Investment Project’, which he said was cut down by 5million in order to address the issues faced in education and health sectors.
“Currently we have 15% of the budget on Education, and additional 15million to ease the ‘would be’ tension is likely to come out as the result of donor fatigue especially with the FARA project, POOL Fund which ends this June”, He averred.
Initially, according to the draft budget submitted to the Legislature, health amounted to 13.2%, infrastructure 11% among others.
He disclosed that the budget has ‘Out Budget Support’ of 5.95million from international partners that doesn’t come directly to the budget but are factored in 11 sectors of the budget.
“The Budget is Pro-Poor but it can only be felt by the people when it is used properly and we are making sure to pass the budget on time in ensuring the full implementation”, he stated.
In order to ensure proper accountability and transparency of the budget, the Public Accounts Committee chair, Rep. Clarence Gahr disclosed that the committee will require performance report from all ministries and agencies over the expense of the public monies within three months period.
“For us to have value for money the implementing arms of the government must be present their reports in order to see the impact of the budget on the ordinary people”, he noted.
For her part, USAID Liberia Accountability and Voice initiative Chief of Part, Malicia Panic lauded efforts of an increase in the educational sector but encouraged policymakers to factor in other neighboring countries strive for more funding to education.
Malicia noted LAVI will continue to raise the voices of people on different issues ranging from the County Social Development funds to Education among other in order to have an informed citizenry on national issues.
The one day dialogue was held under the topic: Liberia’s 2018/2019 Budget: What’s in it for citizens?’. The dialogue brought together youth leaders and young people who are direct beneficiary of the country’s wealth in order to engage policymakers including their direct representatives as well as civil society organizations for a better understanding of the budget.
Internews, Liberia Accountability and Voice Initiative (LAVI), Liberia Media Development Initiative (LMDI), the Center for Transparency and Accountability of Liberia (CENTAL) including the U.S State Department partnered collectively to ensure the budget’s discussion with young people and it was held in Monrovia today.