Granted the preparation and presentation of the national budgets by relevant agencies assigned thereto, with the Budget Bureau long since known for such great tasks at which recent decades have since produced the names of several former directors thereat, including Messrs Frank Stewart, Emmanuel O. Gardner, slow-but-sure Bestman, among others, transcending to the most-challenging time of Mr. Augustine Kpehe Ngafuan, former Minister of Finance and now Minister of Foreign Affairs, they have all been a matter of figures and their interpretations to reflect existing realities.
Amongst the many presidents of the Republic of Liberia that have come to pass, and with this author remaining a witness to power out of practical exhibitions of the knowledge acquired by them, the late 19th President of the Republic, the Reverend Dr. William Richard Tolbert, Jr. has presented itself as glaring evidence in which he dared profiteered at the expense of the poor, moreso been a farmer who took into serious account the more democratic measures of accountability and transparency.
Strange, though, it may have appeared, with the empty-headed using political guesses to undermine the efforts, rather than gradually learning therefrom to meaningfully contribute in the future to the gradual building of the Liberian society, it ought not to be misconstrued in the least that the “three” periods indicated in this year’s national Independence Day oration by erudite Dr. Elwood Dunn, in which some have already begun perceiving as trying to reinvent the good past that was characterized by peace, stability, gradual national growth and development bordered on the respect for traditional and cultural practices, as well as the respect for the rule of law are indeed obvious or must once again be brought to bear.
Without this author delving much into the nitty-gritty of the political rules and arithmetic of budgeting, as expounded upon in a book written by Allan Schick, which the brutally-killed Liberian leader truly represented and was displayed through the gradual but very effective use of the democratic culture bordered on Liberia’s pervasively-practiced traditional culture, perhaps many of his able-lieutenants who may still be alive and must indeed be considered consultants on various national subject-matters ought to now be searched and highly appreciated purely in the cause of the perpetuity and not destruction of the nation.
Not interested in delaying delving into the subject matter but as an attempt to simply lay premises that are grounded on facts and not ongoing speculations fast-obtaining in the democratic dispensation at the expense of democracy quite still unknown to many but must continuingly be brought to full awareness for adaptation, since yesterday cannot continue to be regarded as today or the future.
Thus, whilst the budgetary hearings remain ongoing and expected to end within a specified period, lessons from the Federal Budget of the United States of America, considering Liberia a total replica of that great nation, it must be brought to the fore that amidst the guesses ongoing without considering the miscalculations of those who can hardly answer a seven plus two or interpret it, the words must go down forth that inasmuch as Liberia is constitutionally not yet considered a federal nation, though being advocated by Nimba County Senior Senator Hon. Prince Yormie Johnson, several actions in the process must be interspersed therein in disallowing the citizens to remain confused.
Dependent upon a set of House and Senate committee, the 53rd Session of the National Legislature, if they truly desire to leave behind an imprint for future leaders to follow, must begin to concentrate upon the establishment of committees on annual budget resolution, revenue measures, the authorization of legislation and appropriation bill, appreciative as a Legislative Budget Office (LBO) has since been established in recent years thereat to ease the problem worth greater educational efforts and not just creating same for mere sake to make fabulous salaries and other immunities.
Agreeable and encouraging of the democratic environment that the Liberian nation desires not only to create but sustain, the words must go forth that budget resolution is not a statute and does not bear legal effect, something that has for many years locally watched the Ways, Means and Finance Committee remaining the oldest and strongest. Grand Bassa County Representative Hon. Byron Brown may now be sitting in very good seat to be at his best, as already being exemplified by the continuing bills submitted to Plenary, as well as demonstrating his advocacy and activism thereat.
To this end and whilst several agencies of government continue to appear in the William Richard Tolbert joint chambers at the Legislature, with the local security sector having appeared yesterday, the question of discretionary spending that is not controlled by annual appropriations but by legislation that establishes eligibility criteria and payment formulas, or otherwise obligates government, has created the snail-pace approach in the passage of the 2012/13 national budget.
Purely designed to ensure that the basic task in future spending levels constituting discretionary spending which few have already begun terming as “wasteful,” with appreciable number of citizens still living below the poverty line, meaning living below US$1.00 per day, mandatory spending becomes the best option in estimating the cost of past financial decisions in reconciling the future. This is the true undercurrent pursued by the Legislature and not simply a matter of refining the past in which individuals elected thereat became self-seeking at the extreme detriment of those viewed as been the suffering and “illiterate” majority.