The Senate recently, through a unanimous vote of standing, concurred with the House of Representatives to pass the 2019-2020 National Budget at US$526 million, which is worth the equivalent of L$109,408,000,000 at an average rate of L$208 to US$1.
The chair of the Senate Committee on Ways, Means, Finance and Budget, who briefed the plenary as to the formulation and analysis of the budget, said it engaged the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning (MFDP), the Liberia Revenue Authority (LRA) and other major stakeholders to jointly scrutinize the proposed National Budget for fiscal year 2019-2020.
“The joint committee after the analysis of the proposed budget, which the Executive submitted, arrived at the current budget as follows: Expenditure, Legislative Recast; Compensation, US$296,992,913; Use of Goods and Services, US$72,272,618; Subsidies, US$430,500; Grants, US$57,528,644; Social Benefits, US$1,491,628; Non-Financial Assets, US$36,264,534; Debts, US$35,945,775; PSIP, US$25,73,388; total, US$526 million. The committee hereby recommends that the Senate concur with the House of Representatives as to the enactment of the gross budget…”
Meanwhile, Chairman on Ways, Means and Budget, Senator Morris Saytumah, informed his colleagues that based on the country’s discussions with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which felt that the US$314 million was too high in terms of percentage proportionality of the compensation of the overall budget, “…recommended that we stay at US$297 million, which was cast in stone as a result of the deliberations.”
In terms of deduction, Senator Saytumah disclosed that the Senate contributed 26%, and “we did so because we decided that our staff will not be disturbed, so we absorbed whatever sensitization that was to be levied against the staff.”
Before crafting of the current budget, Senator Saytumah said, the Senate’s total take-home pay was US$7,000,000 but has been reduced to about US$6.4 million. “So actually that thing that was in the air about some amount is not realistic, because it never existed on our budget.”
But when it came to the question of what senators’ actual take-home pay was, Sinoe County Senator J. Milton Teahjay suggested that the disclosure of their current benefits be done in Executive session (behind closed doors). That suggestion brought a loud protest of “NO” from his colleagues and spectators. Teahjay, just days ago, differed with Senator Darius Dillon over the correct amount of a senator’s take-home salary.
Senator Saytumah, however, disclosed that though it will still be done in executive, “I think it is about US$6,244.00.”