Rodney said the “Senators are talking rubbish”. According to him, the Minister’s communication seeking the reduction of budgetary allocation to the Senate is in no way a violation of the Constitution of the Republic of Liberia as claimed. The Liberian Journalist spoke when he appeared on the Capitol FM breakfast show on Thursday, February 4, 2016.
He indicated that it is unfortunate that some members of the legislature would want to abuse the rights of citizens in showcasing their powers. Mr. Sieh mentioned “they are talking rubbish, the fact that someone tells you about cuts in your budget does not mean you must punish them”.
He furthered lamented that it is frustrating that members of the legislature often times believe that they are above the law and can do anything they desire. The FrontPage Africa boss’ comments come in the wake of ongoing contempt hearing into allegation of constitutional violation against Finance and Development Planning Minister, Amara Konneh, and his principal deputy, Dr. James F. Kollie.
Members of the Liberian Senate are venting anger at the MFDP official over plan to cut the Upper House’s recurrent appropriation for FY2015/2016 from US$15,306,416 to US414,043,570 as part of measures to safeguard the Liberian economy that is seriously hit due to decline in the price of the country’s major export commodities as well as mitigating impact of the recent Ebola Virus outbreak. The Executive Branch is also considering recasting the FY2015/2016 National Budget downward consequently. Although Minister Konneh has apologized for the misconception about content of the letter, Senators are still pursuing contempt charge against the Finance Ministry officials. On the other hand, Deputy Finance and Development Planning Minister for Fiscal Affairs, Dr. James Kollie, earlier labeled the senate claims as ‘discombobulating’.
Dr. Kollie argues that the communication is in no way and cannot be a violation of the constitution of Liberia as claimed by some members of the senate. According to him, constitutional violation remains a grave accusation with immeasurable consequence, and the suggestion without evidence that another person has violated the Constitution and should therefore apologize is terribly unfair. Dr. Kollie mentioned, “We were acting upon Section 11(2) and (3), by sending out a Budget Call Circular (BCC) which sets the ceiling for each spending entities based on the projected revenue envelop and then request them to get back to us within a certain time frame so that we can compile the estimates and make the budget proposal which the President will then communicate to the Legislature.
He further emphasized that “as outlined in the law a proposal from the President will be placed before the Legislature for its review and approval. The President depends on technicians to put that proposal together. In order for the technicians to complete that proposal, they will need inputs from all spending entities as per the PFM Act”. If you read our letter carefully and not engage in what one Senator did by skipping a relevant phrase in the letter, you will observe that in the third paragraph of the letter, we stated that “subject to legislative endorsement” in line with Section 18(4) of the PFM Act of 2009 that states that the Supplementary Budget shall be approved by the Legislature,” he narrated. He indicated that Section 6(c) of the FY15/16 National Budget also states among other things that “The Minister of Finance and Development Planning is hereby authorized to institute risk management and cost saving measures during budget execution to ensure that spending is in line with revenue collection and that the Strategies and measures shall be done in consultation with the Ways, Means and Finance Committee of both Houses.”