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In Liberia, President Sirleaf's Budget Faces Consternation


In Liberia, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s 2006-2007 budget, the first peacetime budget in 15 years, remains in the Legislature since being submitted for review in mid-June. The Legislature has raised many questions pertaining to the budget. Charles Brumskine, who challenged President Sirleaf in last year’s elections, is a member of the opposition Liberty Party. He spoke with VOA English to Africa reporter James Butty about his concerns regarding the budget.

“Our issue with the budget is what appears to reflect presidential unaccountability. She should inform the people as to how money was expended during the first six months of her administration prior to submitting a budget for authorization to spend more money.”

Brumskine accuses President Sirleaf of presiding over a bloated civil service.

“Our problem with regards to the civil service was in particular reference with the size of what she has in the Executive Mansion. What the president attempts to do right now is to reduce the size of the civil service, and our position is that let’s start with the Executive Mansion.”

Brumskine says President Sirleaf should follow the Liberian Constitution.

“The Constitution of Liberia provides that the president must inform the people through the legislative branch of government exactly how much money was expended during the last fiscal period. The president submitted a budget; when the members of the legislature asked her for expenditure report, she indicated that she didn’t have to do that, and up to this point she hasn’t done that. So what is happening here is that the executive is requesting authorization to spend more of the people’s money without first accounting to the people the money that was previously authorized for the operation of government.”

Brumskine rejects suggestions that his party is criticizing the president for the sake of argument.

“I believe anyone who is following developments on the ground will appreciate the fact that the Liberty Party has been very constructive with regards to our criticism…and believe it or not, the government has adopted most of what we have said.”

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