…As House Vows To Scrutinize Draft Budget in the Interest of the People
The Joint Budget Committee of the 54th Legislature has vowed to robustly scrutinize the 2023 National Budget in the tone of US$777.94m in the interest of the people of Liberia and the country.
Montserrado County District #5 Representative, Thomas P. Fallah and chairman of the Joint Budget Committee of the 54th Legislature, on behalf of the Committee said they are poised to implement their constitutional mandate to review the National Development envelope (budget).
The Joint Committee Chair Hon. Fallah made the remarks on Monday during the kickoff of the 2023 Budget Hearing.
He urged his colleagues to “look into” the proposal to allocate US$6m to increase over 15,000 civil servants who are making below US$150.00 in the minimum wage.
The Joint Budget Committee comprises Committees on Ways, Means, and Development Planning and the Public Accounts & Expenditure from the House of Representatives and Senate.
He explained that the 2023 Draft National Budget will begin with the revenue component which will be done in a close door (Executive) Session while the Expenditure Hearing will be done in opened session in the Joint Chamber of the Legislature.
Mr. Gabriel Montgomery, Deputy Commissioner General for Technical Services of the Liberia Revenue Authority (LRA), in his presentation during the commencement of the 2023 National Draft Budget said each year, more than US$300M is lost to tax waivers and incentive programs.
“Each year, more than US$300M is lost to tax waivers and incentive programs,” Montgomery said.
“We believe that incentives can be good if they are targeted towards investment and growth promotion, and that specific requirements for qualification such as local content requirements, and employment are met. There is a need to revisit our incentive policies and monitoring frameworks to safeguard our revenues.” He stated
“As we all know, Mr. Chairman, domestic revenue mobilization is the lifeblood of our country’s development. As donor support is drying up, we will continue to increase our reliance on the LRA to meet even more ambitious targets.”
Mr. Samora P. Z. Wolokolie, Deputy Finance Minister for Fiscal Affairs said the total resource envelope for Fiscal Year 2023 is United States Dollar Seven hundred Seventy-Seven Million, Nine hundred forty three thousand, two hundred twelve dollars, fifty cents (US$777,943,212.50). And of this amount, 16% or (LRD 20.1 billion) is domestic currency, and $656.6 million or 84% is actual United States dollars at the projected exchange rate by the Central Bank of Liberia is US$1:165.31 LRD.
Deputy Minister Wolokollie said the total projected revenue from Domestic Resource Mobilization (DRM) is US$667.9 million or 86%, while External Resources account for US$110 million or 14% and that revenue assumptions are supported by the following macro-economic and tax policy assumptions:
“Real GDP (in dollar terms) for 2022 is estimated at US$3.51 billion and is expected to reach US$4.9 billion in 2023. The statistics speak to the good health of the economy under our stewardship.
For FY2023, there are no new tax policy measures underpinning this budget, however, we intend to further strengthen current tax policies that are already in effect and to present a draft amendment to the revenue code to replace the goods and services tax (GST) with Value Added Tax (VAT) as well as other amendments to strengthen tax administration.” Deputy Minister stated.
Meanwhile, the revenue component of the 2023 budget begins with the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning, LRA, and the National Port Authority.
Day two, Wednesday, February 1, 2023, will bring together six Agencies. They include the Liberia Telecommunication Authority (LTA), Ministry of Mines and Energy, Ministry of Transport (MOT), Ministry of Justice, The Liberian National Police, and the Liberia Immigration Services (LIS).