Following a two weeks delay of the submission of the 2017/18 fiscal year budget the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning, under the leadership of Boima S. Kamara, has finally submitted the budget, but with a 12.3% reduction from the US$ 600.2 million approved for the 2016/17 national budget against the current FY 2017/18 US$526.5.
Submitting the budget to the 53rd National Legislature on behalf of the ministry yesterday at the Capitol, the Deputy Minister for Budget and Development Planning, Tanneh Brunson, said the formulation of the draft budget has been constrained by the increased expenditure demands placed on it. Minister Brunson explained that despite the challenges, the FY2017/18 national budget has been prepared in a framework which addresses critical public expenditure demands as the country faces two major transitions. She named the two major transitions as the 2017 presidential and legislative elections and the UNMIL drawdown, and added that the government remains committed to the delivery of critical public service and the completion of the ongoing projects in line with the national development plan. “The formulation of this draft National Budget has been exceptionally constrained, not only by the impacts of slow post-EVD economic recovery and unfavorable external and domestic macroeconomic conditions, but also the increasing expenditure demands placed on it. Despite these challenges and constrained fiscal space, the FY 2017/18 national budget has been prepared in a framework which addresses critical public expenditure demands as the country faces two major transitions,” she added. Addressing the Speaker of the House of Representative, Madam Brunson said Liberia’s economy, like in most parts of the world, is experiencing some turbulence due in large part to the global economic downturn. “But we are confident that our economy will withstand the tests of the moment,” she added. She said in order to submit a balanced budget; the expenditure portfolio is constrained to US$526.5 million and consists of two major segments - recurrent expenditure of USD 498.9 million or 94.8 percent; and the public sector investment plan (PSIP) of USD27.5 million or 5.2 percent. Naming the major components of expenditure for FY2017/18, she noted that it comprises the following: USD31 million for liabilities (debt service), including USD10.8 million for payment of foreign liabilities (debt) principal and interests; USD19.8million for the conduct of the October 2017 presidential and Legislative elections; USD296million for compensation of employees; USD81.1million for goods and services, including supplies for education and health; USD 3.4million in grant to non-governmental service delivery entities; and USD60.3 million in grants to government service delivery entities. Despite the huge intake of recurrent expenditure on the national budget, Madam Brunson said government will apply fiscal measures to control expenditure and demonstrate to “our partners’ commitment to the priories before us, and thereby attract supply”.