“Wrongful Legislative Proceedings”? Bility, Dillion, Mcgill, Others Fuss Over Decision To Grant Boakai’s Request

By: Jeremiah Sackie Cooper
Gmail: jeremiahcooper105@gmail.com

Liberia: The granting of President Joseph Boakai’s request to spend US$41, 300, 000.00 (FORTY ONE MILLION, THREE HUNDRED THOUSAND) for government’s operations for the Month of February 2024 by the Senator and House of Representatives have come under serious criticism by some members of both houses.

On February 15, 2024, President Joseph Boakai wrote the plenary of both houses of the Legislature seeking authorization to use US$41.3 Million for government’s operations.

The House of Representatives on Tuesday February 20, 2024, unanimously voted to approve the president’s request, forwarding it to the Senate for concurrence.

The Plenary of the 55th House of Representatives took the decision after a recommendation made by the House’s Committee on Ways Means, Finance and Development Planning and Public Accounts to approve the president’s request to avoid the government from shutting down.

Today, February 22, 2024 the plenary of the Liberian Senate concurred with the House of Representatives on the passage of President Joseph Boakai’s US$41.3 million, with 20 (twenty) senators voting Yes and Senators Albert Chie and Simeon Taylor of Grand Kru and Grand Cape Mount Counties respectively abstaining from the process.

Despite majority members of both houses voting in favor of the President’s request, several Lawmakers have expressed frustration and disappointment over the approval.

Four senators, including Sen. Darius Dillon and Sen. Nathaniel Mcgill of Montserrado and Margibi Counties, and Representative Musa Bility of District #7 Nimba County voted NO to the president’s request.

Giving reasons for his decision, Margibi County Senator Nathaniel Mcgill said that President Boakai in his letter to the Senate failed to provide details surrounding the US$5.7 million meant for domestic debts.

Like their colleague, Senator Gbleh-bo Brown of Maryland County, Senator Abraham Darius Dillon of Montserrado County voted “NO” on ground that the budget be approved only if a list containing the domestic debts is provided and reviewed.

For his part, Nimba County District #7 Representative Musa Bility termed the decision of the plenary of the 55th House of Representatives as lacking legal standards.

According to the Nimba County District #7 Lawmaker, the president has failed to provide an explanation as to why the Executive has not submitted an amended FY 2024 National Budget.

It can be recalled that in December 2023, the outgoing 54th Legislature failed to act on the proposed national draft budget in the tone of US$625,5700.00 submitted to former President George Weah Administration. However, the draft national budget was sent back to the incoming administration now the Boakia-Koung administration for revision and resubmission. Since then, the Executive has failed to resend the proposed financial envelope to the Legislature.

Rep. Bility also furthered that President Boakai’s request lacks details of the breakdown of the Budget items.

“The budget summary includes payment of debt servicing in the amount of Five Million Seven Hundred Thousand United States Dollars but falls short of outstanding what specific debts are to be paid out of the requested amount. It is important that a copy of the detailed budget be available to this body (House of Representative) for review and to further inform our decision on its approval”, Rep. Bility stressed.

He at the sametime noted that the House’s decision lacked the adherence to the Public Financial Management Law.

“To date, the Executive has not submitted and the legislature has not received an amended FY National Budget nor an explanation or justification for this lapses” He stressed.

The Public Financial Management (PFM) Law of Liberia mandates the Executive to submit the annual national budget to the legislature for approval.

The PFM Law lays out fundamental procedures for the preparation, adoption, execution and final accounts of the National Budget and related matters including internal control, accounting and auditing of public finances, assert as well as the arrangement for public debt and government guarantees.

Meanwhile, the President of the Senate, Jeremiah Koung has mandated the Secretary of the Senate to communicate the decision with the relevant authorities.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *