“Senators Will Minimize Electoral Conflicts” – Chie -As Pro Tempore Outlines Decisions of 54th Legislature
MONROVIA: As the commencement of political campaigns for the 2023 presidential and legislative elections stares aspirants in the face, members of the 54th Legislature on Monday, July 31, 2023 adjourned the second constituency break of their 6th and final session, with the Presiding Senate Pro Tempore Albert Tugbe Chie outlining a plethora of decisions reached during the just-ended sitting. The Grand Kru County lawmaker used the occasion to reiterate the commitment of the Liberian Senate to a transparent, fair and violent-free elections.
“Within the confines of our responsibilities and influence, Senators commit to help ensure minimization of pre- and post-electoral conflicts. For us Senators seeking re-election, we may be facing approximately eighty-six other candidates in October for 15 seats. May destiny take charge and make us observe and read a kinder and gentler history thereafter. All of us hope to return with good tidings in October,” Senator Chie said.
He further lauded his colleagues for the level of cooperation he received during the segment and spoke glowingly of the level of unity that persisted amongst the senators with respect to the building of multi-party consensus on a number of critical national issues, even though the segment was marked by political alignments and realignments leading to the pending national elections date.
“At the beginning of the segment, political pundits thought this pre-election segment would have been a lame-duck one. Nevertheless, the segment went on productively, to the point where it had to be extended by one week,” Pro Tempore Chie averred.
Among key decisions reached by the Senate during the segment, Senator Chie spoke of the confirmation of some nominees to tenured positions. “On Tuesday last week, the Senate confirmed nominees to positions at the Public Procurement and Concessions Commission (PPCC), the Governance Commission, the National Fisheries and AquaCulture Authority and the Board of Tax Appeal,” he said.
Road Development Oversight Initiatives
True to its oversight responsibility function, the Senate, according to Pro Tempore Chie held officials of the Ministry of Public Works accountable with deferred legislative contempt for failure to keep the Southeastern Road corridors and road segments in other parts of the country pliable despite receiving millions of US Dollars from the Government.
“These officials were mandated to work aggressively on the above road corridors and report periodically to the Senate on their work progress in line with work plans to be presented,” he said, noting that delinquent road contractors were referred to the Committees on Public Accounts and Public Works for investigation and possible referral to the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC) if probable cause was established after said investigation.
The National Budget being a major policy law, the Senate under Pro Tempore Chie ensured the passage of the recast budget to the 2023 National Budget to cut public spending.
Public Health Law
According to Senator Chie, “the Senate spent countless hours deliberating the draft revised Public Health Law at Committee level, in numerous public hearings, at Senate Consultative Meetings and in Plenary; We could not however concur with the Honorable House of Representatives due to several unresolved issues in the proposed law. We will continue consultation with relevant stakeholders upon our return in the last quarter of the year”.
He said the Senate also mandated the Ministries of Finance and Health to submit Budget performance reports for the health and education sectors for the period January to the first week of July 2023; in the wake of reports of non-payment of budgetary allocated amounts; which mandate was complied with.
Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission
Senator Pro Tempore said the Senate conducted hearings with seven nominated commissioners to the new LACC, while due diligence is continuing in respect to the county of origin of these nominees.
“This is to ensure compliance with Section 6.8 of the new LACC Act which states that “no two commissioners shall have the same county of origin,” he indicated.
National Census and the 2023 general elections
Pro Tempore Chie intimated that an Ad-hoc Committee was set up to work with the Honorable House of Representatives on legislative action on the final census report.
“The Ad-hoc Committee reported to Plenary that the final 2022 census report was presented to the Legislature around the end of June (a few weeks ago); at such it is too late to be used to set a threshold for the demarcation of constituencies for the October 10, 2023 Legislative elections. The consultative process will however continue with eye on the 2029 Legislative Elections,” he said.
Senator Chie also furthered that the Senate ratified several financing agreements to promote agriculture and one for budget support from the International Development Agency of the World Bank.
He said the Senate as well conducted numerous committee hearings and engagements to exert legislative oversight.