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Budget Hearings Stall As NHA, NTA, MoCI, Others Fails To Appear
By Wilfred Gortor
MONROVIA, August 8 (LINA) - The ongoing hearings into the expenditure component of the 2016-17 fiscal budget could not continue on Monday as key actors failed to appear before the Joint Budget Committee of the Upper and Lower Houses for the exercise.
Those not present included the National Housing Authority (NHA), National Transit Authority (NTA), and the Ministries of Commerce and Labor.
No formal excuses were given for their failure to appear, but the Director for Press and Public Affairs of the House of Representatives, Isaac Redd, told journalists at that only the Ministry of State officially informed the budget committee that it was unable to honor its request to appear.
Redd disclosed that the Ministry of State asked for a reschedule of its appearance on grounds that the ministry is busy with funeral formalities of its fallen Minister, Dr. Edward McClain, who recently died in South Africa.
Redd stressed that under Article 35 of the Liberian Constitution, the Legislature is entitled to make budgetary appropriations, so the process of appropriating the president's proposal for spending in 2016-17 is under review, therefore any ministry that fails to show up will have appropriations according to the committee's determination.
Meanwhile, Redd has refuted reports in the media that the budget has been recalled by President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, terming it as untrue as the budget remains in the ambit of the legislature.
"The Committees on Ways, Means and Finance and Public Accounts of the Senate and House of Representatives are perusing the budget and hearings will continue on Tuesday," Redd noted.
The 2016-17 budget, which is a little over US$555 million, about 11 percent less than the original approved budget of US$622,743,420 million for the fiscal period of 2015-16, was presented to the Legislature on May 16 by Finance Minister Boima Kamara.