The Business Desk of the Daily Observer has credibly learned that President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf will veto the National Budget Law for fiscal year 2014/15 approved last week by the National Legislature. According to Executive Mansion sources, President Sirleaf will do a line veto of the budget which many economists consider a huge departure from the actual reality of the economy. The lawmakers passed the budget increasing their salaries and benefits amidst the economic challenges in the face of the Ebola crisis.“The segment of the fiscal budget passed by the legislature is not realizable,” said a Liberian public budget analyst, who feels that the lawmakers’ decision to increase the budget above US$500 million is unthinkable at this time.The National Legislature passed the budget last week increasing its re-adjusted revenue envelop from over US$473 million to US$660 million contradicting the actual numbers highlighting declining revenue and huge government deficit.The economy has receded by over 6 percent projected with real gross domestic product (GDP) growth dipping further downward to 0.4 percent due to the ongoing Ebola crisis.Investment and export as well as government spending as functions of the economy have all been hit due to the crisis.Investments have dwindled as contractors and companies declared force majeure and left the country, but this does not stop the government from paying workers and ensuring that public institutions function—-which ultimately creates extra spending pressure on the government as the Ebola virus disease (EVD) outbreak rages.A revenue expert explained how the government would have collapsed had the World Bank and other multilateral institutions and bilateral governments not given direct budgetary support to pay health workers’ salaries and settle other costs.“The best we can do is to operate on core revenue only,” said this expert who preferred anonymity.Tax revenue is the government’s single largest resilience for funding, but with most of the businesses hit hardest by the EVD, revenue projections from them could be contingent upon how fast they recover from the impact of the virus, analysts have said.Apart from the initial draft budget envelop of US$473.2 million, members of the legislature included US$7.047 million as additional revenue from the budget hearing.In addition to this amount, they also made the following adjustments US$24 million core grant, US$50.3 million contingent (grant) revenue and US$70.6 million (core) borrowing as well as US$10 million borrowing (contingent) and US$25 million signature bonuses for oil blocks 6, 7, 16 and 17, respectively. By increasing the revenue envelop of the budget by US$186.9 million and increasing their own allowances and other benefits, many economists are wondering where the government will raise additional revenue from to complete the financing of the budget when deficit is already above US$305 million.Responding to our reporter’s inquest at the Ministry of Information Cultural Affairs and Tourism (MICAT) press briefing on Thursday, Finance Minister Amara M. Konneh announced that the economy is in trouble. “The economy is undergoing serious stress as a result of the Ebola crisis and the need to intervene in further stabilizing the country’s already fragile economy cannot be overemphasized. The government is challenged in dealing with deficit financing. We have a very huge task in dealing with deficit financing because we [government] don’t want to sink our country into another huge debt,” said Minister Konneh. He called for strong fiscal discipline in government as the economy struggles to recover.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)
Stories are posted on the APRN news page. You can subscribe to APRN’s newsfeeds via email, podcast and RSS. Follow us on Facebook at alaskapublic.org and on Twitter @AKPublicNewsListen nowSoutheast bids adieu to fast ferry FairweatherJacob Resneck, CoastAlaska – JuneauAlaska’s fast ferry completed what’s likely to be its last Southeast run this past weekend.FBI joins search for missing 10-year-old Kotzebue girlDan Bross, KUAC – FairbanksThe FBI has joined the effort to find a missing girl in Kotzebue. Ten-year-old Ashley Johnson-Barr was last seen the evening of September 6th leaving a local park.State fines group opposing salmon habitat initiative for violating naming ruleElizabeth Harball, Alaska’s Energy Desk – AnchorageThe Alaska Public Offices Commission says the group violated a rule that requires an organization fighting an initiative to clearly state its opposition in its name.Park Service extends perioid for public comment on hunting regulationsDan Bross, KUAC – FairbanksThe National Park Service has again extended the public comment period on a proposed sport hunting and trapping regulatory change. The controversial change proposed for Alaska National Preserve lands would allow state permitted practices like bear baiting, using artificial light to kill bears at den sites, killing coyotes during denning season, and killing of swimming caribou.ACLU-Alaska announces settlement in immigration detentionAssociated PressThe American Civil Liberties Union of Alaska says it’s settled a lawsuit with the city of Palmer that alleged officers wrongfully detained a Peruvian man over his immigration status.Clear Air Force station missile defense project receives $14.8 million grantTim Ellis, KUAC – FairbanksThe Army Corps of Engineers has awarded a $14.8 million contract to a Palmer-based contractor for work on a missile defense-related project at Clear Air Force Station, near Anderson.UAF highlights profitability of Sikuliaq research vesselDan Bross, KUAC – FairbanksThe University of Alaska Fairbanks operated research vessel Sikuliaq is proving to be a good investment. That was a key message from UAF college of fisheries and ocean sciences dean Bradly Moran during a Sikuliaq update for UA regents last week.Charging details remain confidential for Unalaska teens that allegedly threatened teen with handgunLaura Kraegel, KUCB – UnalaskaThe state has filed charges against two Unalaska teenagers who allegedly threatened another teen with a handgun this July. That’s likely all the information Unalaskans will get about the case — unless it moves to the adult court system.Alleged assault of grandmother in Juneau courtroom raises concerns about securityAndrew Kitchenman, KTOO – JuneauA 26-year-old Juneau man spent roughly six months in jail for allegedly assaulting his grandmother. Then the man — who’s diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia — did it again — this time in a Juneau courtroom. And it took 11 minutes for a law enforcement officer to arrive.Wrangell resident shares her story for World Suicide Prevention DayJune Leffler, KSTK – WrangellAlaska has the second highest rate of suicide in the nation, that’s according to a 2016 study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.Five decades on, a Sitkan takes lessons from the 1968 DNC RiotsRobert Woolsey, KCAW – SitkaSitkan Jerry Dzugan was a college student in Chicago in 1968 and witnessed firsthand the riots in the streets during the Democratic National Convention in late August. A bystander, he was nevertheless beaten and arrested during widespread efforts by Chicago police to clear the streets and restore order.