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Editorial: The Senate Should Rethink

The Liberian Senate took a decision on Monday that is very unprecedented in the political history of Liberia. From all indications, the decision seems not to be in the best interest of the majority of Liberians, who are illiterate and poverty-stricken. The Senate has ratified an act that would compel government to allot US$4 million annually for any three foremost political parties here with the purported intent of building capacity and strengthening democracy.

Senate President Pro Tempore Cletus Wotorson, has defended the act, maintaining that it is intended to strengthen democracy and build strong political institutions. According to Senator Wotorson, that’s the only way to building democracy in Liberia by investing in strong political parties.

We think this act is unfair and has an ulterior motive aimed at changing our budding democratic environment into a welfare environment where politicians and political leaders would no longer have to devise strategies in raising fund, but to directly look to government for annual subsidy.

Political parties are alternative governments in waiting, but if a law is being enacted to compel the state to fund their activities we wonder what moral grounds they can stand on to criticize an incumbent administration at the national leadership. The next danger this could pose is that sooner or later intra-party fight might erupt at the hierarchy level of parties over money expected from government thus, leading to alliances and coalitions breaking apart and subsequently dampening the democratic space.

Somewhere along the way, we think the lawmakers themselves have got vested interest in this act as most of them could shortly be out of job after the October 11 general and presidential elections. And so they have already begun to put in place measures and strategies that would ensure state fund continue to come their way or their respective political institutions even while out of active public service. This is wrong.

It may be recalled that few months ago, a bill was introduced at the National Legislature, seeking benefits in the range of US$40,000 and 50,000 for lawmakers after they exited from the First Branch of government. Still unsatisfied after consistently allocating fabulous salaries and benefits in the national budget unto themselves over the years at the expense of basic social welfare, our Legislators seem to subscribe to the view that the national revenue should be dished out to a few greedy citizens at the neglect of the majority.

Rather than seeking US$4 million for political parties we think such money should be directed at technical and vocational education, which is urgently needed in the wake of prospects in the industrial sector of the economy, including prospects for crude oil mining here!

Our population, dominated by youths, needs to be empowered through basic technical and vocational education in making sure that Liberians get first preference for decent employment in those concession companies that have come to exploit our nature resources. This can be achieved when we set our priorities rightly with the national objective being the focus.

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