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Friday, June 14, 2024

HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES ORDERS INVESTIGATION INTO ALLEGED ALTERATION OF 2024 BUDGET LAW

Date:

MONROVIA – The Plenary of the House of Representatives reached a decisive conclusion on Thursday, June 6, 2024, during its 7th day sitting. This action followed a communication from Representative Clarence G. Gar of Margibi County’s electoral district #5, raising serious concerns over alleged alterations in the 2024 budget law.

Representative Gar, who chairs the House’s Public Accounts and Expenditure Committee (PAC), pointed out discrepancies in the final printed version of the budget. He claimed that during the 2024 budget deliberations, it was unanimously agreed that any references to the Legislative Budget Office (LBO) should be replaced with the Public Accounts Committee (PAC). Despite this agreement, the printed budget still mentioned the LBO as the supervising body for the allocation and use of funds by government ministries and agencies.

In his communication, Gar emphasized the significance of upholding legislative decisions to maintain integrity and transparency in government operations. “It can be recalled that at the end of the 2024 National Budget deliberations, a motion was made by Representative James Kolleh of District #2, Bong County, which was unanimously voted on and passed into law. This motion stipulated that where all in the 2024 National Budget Law are written LBO, it should be automatically replaced with PAC,” Gar stated.

Both the House and Senate had earlier passed the 2024 budget, amounting to US$738,859,827.00, with a clear mandate for heads of government ministries, agencies, state-owned enterprises, and corporations to execute funded plans and programs professionally and accountably for the benefit of Liberia’s citizens. This budget was passed with a serious warning to ensure that allocated funds are used effectively and transparently.

However, the alleged failure to reflect the agreed changes in the final budget prompted Rep. Gar to address his concerns formally. He argued that the oversight could undermine the credibility of the legislative process and the trust of the Liberian people. The Margibi lawmaker insisted that the alteration was illegal and called for immediate rectification.

Following Gar’s letter, a robust debate ensued on the House floor. Many representatives expressed support for Gar’s concerns, emphasizing the need for transparency and accuracy in the budgetary process. The integrity of the legislative process, they argued, hinges on strict adherence to agreed-upon decisions.

In response to these concerns, the Plenary agreed to forward the communication to the House’s leadership for further investigation. Additionally, they mandated the leadership to invite the Ministry of Finance Development Planning to appear with a copy of the budget within one week to address the claims of alteration.

Representative Ivar Jones, who put forward the motion, highlighted the necessity of resolving the issue swiftly to maintain public confidence in the government’s financial management. He stressed that any discrepancies in the budget must be rectified to ensure that all government plans and programs are executed as intended.

This incident underscores the legislature’s commitment to ensuring that legislative decisions are accurately implemented and that the principles of transparency and accountability are upheld in managing the nation’s finances. It also reflects the ongoing efforts by lawmakers to scrutinize government actions closely and hold relevant authorities accountable.

The upcoming session with the Ministry of Finance will be crucial in determining the next steps. The House expects a thorough explanation and resolution to ensure that the 2024 budget reflects the true intentions of the legislative body. This move is aimed at restoring confidence and ensuring that all budgetary allocations are properly supervised and utilized for the benefit of Liberia’s citizens.

This revised version aligns the headline and content more clearly with the subject under discussion, focusing on the alleged budget law alterations and the House’s response.

Socrates Smythe Saywon
Socrates Smythe Saywon is a Liberian journalist. You can contact me at 0777425285 or 0886946925, or reach out via email at saywonsocrates@smartnewsliberia.com or saywonsocrates3@gmail.com.

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