Senate Says Buchanan Retreat Cost “Exaggerated” -Calls for Ethical, Balanced Reporting by Media

MONROVIA – The tidal waves of civic and political consciousness amongst Liberians, following the fall of the country’s one-party oligarchy, bolstered by the advent of Internet Communication Technology (ICT), not only embolden the exercise of human freedoms, including free speech and free press, but also render the public space vulnerable and uncheckable for various shades and quality of news and information. In other words, contemporary Liberians are freer, more vocal, critical and persistent in criticizing their leaders and just anything, holding people accountable, but at times miss the boat with disinformation and misinformation. This might be one reason why the Senate of the 55th Legislature was swift to come out with a press statement dismissing as false, misleading news and utterances in the public space “exaggerating” the cost of their recent brainstorming sessions held in the port city of Buchanan, Grand Bassa County. The Analyst reports.

There has been a lot of public suspicion and mixed reactions regarding how much the Liberian Senate used in terms of cash and material when they held a four-day retreat in Buchanan City.

The port city went alit when the Senate of the 55th Legislature emptied itself into port city, with 108 persons touching down, most of them senators, senate security guards, drivers, support staffs, protocol officials, directors of departments, retreat secretariat and facilitators.

While others were focusing attention on the critical issues being brainstormed at the retreat, including transparency and accountability and audits of the Senate, decentralization of the budget including programs, digitization of the senate and the review of the Senate rules, amongst others, there were other commentators who were accessing the grandeur of the event and conjecturing it had a deep bite on the national coffer.

Public spending in at all levels of Government in contemporary Liberia has been a matter of incessant scrutiny, something that is done at times fairly and at times maliciously, and it seems the Senate think criticisms of their spending for the Buchanan retreat was distortive, misrepresented and exaggerated.

In a June 12 press statement issued by its Press and Public Affairs Department, the leadership of the Liberian Senate, led by Pro Tempore Nyonblee Kanga Lawrence, spoke to the what it described “distortions and misrepresentations circulating in various media outlets and talk shows regarding the cost and intent of the Senate’s retreat held in Buchanan, Grand Bassa County.”

Contrary to the “exaggerated figures reported by some individuals and media entities,” the Senate says, “the total cost of the three-day retreat was $50,000 United States dollars.”

The US$50,000, according to the press statement issued by the Senate, covered accommodation for all attendees, rental of conference halls, catering services, daily subsistence allowances (DSAs) for all support staff (excluding the Senators), transportation, secretariat services and security arrangements.

“The leadership of the Senate unequivocally states that the retreat’s expenses were prudently managed and did not exceed the specified budget of $50,000,” said the release, which further stated that the Senate was challenging any individual or entity in possession of credible evidence to the contrary to come forward with their information.

Apparently retorting media entities and journalists who criticized the Senate, positing that it spent hundreds of thousands of dollars for the retreat, the Senate called for “ethical and balanced reports” on its activities.

The “House of Elders” noted that while it recognizes and respects the vital role of the media as the watchdog of society, it is also imperative that the role of the media is executed with the highest standards of professionalism, ethics, and accuracy.

“Irresponsible and inflammatory reporting not only undermines the credibility of the media but also has the potential to sow unnecessary confusion and discord,” the Senate warned, further urging all media practitioners to adhere to the principles of balanced and fair reporting.

The release added: “Accurate journalism is crucial for maintaining public trust and fostering an informed citizenry. The Senate remains committed to transparency and accountability and welcomes constructive dialogue and legitimate scrutiny from the media.”

The Senate leadership also acknowledged public’s interest in its activities and reiterates its dedication to serving the people of Liberia with integrity and responsibility.

“We remain open to engaging with the media and the public to provide clarity and ensure that accurate information is disseminated,” the Senate asserted.

  1. Jessy says

    “The US$50,000, according to the press statement issued by the Senate, covered accommodation for all attendees, rental of conference halls, catering services, daily subsistence allowances (DSAs) for all support staff (excluding the Senators), transportation, secretariat services and security arrangements.” So how much was spent on the Senators? The Senate is dishonest to the core. What sense does it make for the Minister of Information to be told the Retreat cost $50,000.00 and now return to say the amount was only for support staff. Nyonblee is showing all the signs why JNB decision was right on point. She is corrupt to the core and represents everything that is wrong with this country.

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