House, Senate Split Over National Budget

The House of Representatives has criticized members of the Senate for rejecting its proposal for the allotment of US$73 million annually in the National Budget as District Development Funds.

According to the Liberia News Agency, the Senate rejected the proposal on May 15, 2014 on grounds that it was “unconstitutional” to allocate funds per electoral districts rather than administrative districts.

Capitol Building: Home of the National Legislature
Capitol Building: Home of the National Legislature

Senators further argued that their decision is more in the interest of disenfranchised administrative regions to help boost their local economic development and to ensure the well-being of the people.

However, during discussions on a letter from the Senate in Plenary Thursday, several members of the House, including Maryland County Representative James Barney, termed the Senate’s decision as “stereotype and immaterial”, noting that the House has the constitutional power to set up a budget with which the Senate may or may not concur.

 

Senate Pro Temp Gbehzohngar Findley
Senate Pro Temp Gbehzohngar Findley
House Speaker Alex Tyler
House Speaker Alex Tyler

Speaking on the floor, Barney interpreted the “may” as meaning that the concurrence of the Senate is not necessary, but only a desire out of courtesy.


Other lawmakers including Edwin Snowe of Montserrado County and Eugene Fallah Kparkar of Lofa County, likened the situation to confirmation, where the Senate does not need any input from the House to reject or accept a presidential nominee.

In a Plenary in which every member present spoke, there was no contrary view that called for acceptance or concurrence of the Senate’s letter.

In recent times, the House and Senate have publicly expressed divergent opinions on a number of issues, including the decent work bill and the amount for registration fees for political candidates at the National Elections Commission.

Meanwhile, the House has stated that it would identify necessary revenue sources and place the US$73 million in the core budget, reminding other branches and offices of government that the law provides that all revenue issues should originate from the House. By Winnie T. Dixon/LINA

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Author: D K Sengbeh

Danicius Kaihenneh Sengbeh (author of Sengbeh's Weblog) is a respected and renowned Liberian journalist, poet and writer with with journalism experience since 2001, of working both as a mainstream journalist and a communication/media consultant in Liberia. He is Secretary General of the Press Union of Liberia (elected Dec 2013). He was Assistant Secretary General of the Union Dec 2011 to Dec 2013. He is also Editor-In-Chief of The Informer Newspaper—one of Liberia’s credible dailies. Before joining the Informer, Danicius had served as reporter, chief reporter, sub-editor and News Editor at The Independent Newspaper between 2002 and 2006. Before then, he was reporter at the defunct Patriot Newspaper and Kiss FM 2001-2002. Danicius is a UN Media Fellow and Liberia’s first UN Medal Award-winning journalist for his contribution to journalism and for being the second Liberian journalist in 15 years to qualify for and successfully attended the United Nations’ Reham Al-Farra Memorial Journalist Fellowship Program in New York and Geneva, Switzerland in 2012. He earned a Bachelor’s of Arts Degree in Mass Communication and Sociology from the University of Liberia and a Diploma in Journalism from the International School of Journalism. He holds several awards and recognitions both in and outside of journalism, and carries dozens of certificates in journalism and communication from studies in Ghana, China, United States and Switzerland, among others. He volunteers as Chair of the Information and Communication Committee of his local Bardnersville community. He can be quickly reached via (+231) 886586531/777586531/777464018/ dakasen1978@yahoo.com

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