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Financial Autonomy Bill: Let Rationalism Prevail Over ‘Self Interest’

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With less than two years to the end of the current administration, politicians in the Liberian Senate on Capitol Hill in Monrovia are seeking financial autonomy.

The decision, manifested in a Bill authored and submitted to the Senate’s Plenary by Bong County Senator Jewel Howard-Taylor, is attributed to the difficulties, including financial strangulations, the Legislative Branch of Government undergoes in regularly accessing finances for administrative operations.

To further back the foregoing justification, a letter accompanying the Bill to the Plenary of the Liberian Senate suggested that the Executive and Judicial Branches of the Liberian Government enjoy leverage, latitude and decisiveness in financial decision-making and program implementation under financial autonomy, but very difficult for the Legislature to function efficiently under the present financial administrative arrangements subjecting the ‘first branch of government’ to un-necessary bureaucratic process.

According to Senator Taylor and her Bill, the financial autonomy being sought is in consonance with the allotment process of the Finance and Development Planning Ministry, as well as in compliance with all provisions of the Public Procurement and Concession Act of 2005 and meets international best practice and accounting principles/procedures, laws and procedures of the General Auditing Commission.

The rationale provided for the decision for the Legislature to be financially autonomous may be genuine, considering the fact that the two other branches of government “enjoy financial autonomy”, but not convincingly timely and necessary.

While some Liberians may think such is the time and condition, others believe the decision lacks ‘good intentions’, knowing our Legislators to be what they are, as far as fiscal discipline is concerned. It is an agreeable fact that in as much the Executive and Judicial Branches of the Liberian Government benefit from financial autonomy, the Legislature must also enjoy such financial privilege, even though the formers had been enjoying such benefit since the inception of the current administration in 2006.

Moreover, at the time the Legislature is rocked by crises to include allegations of financial discrepancies relative to vehicle purchase and Global Witness Report involving some of its members, as well as the political conflict characterizing relations between the Capitol Building and Executive Mansion, it may just be not justifiable and timely to give that august body any financial autonomy – it should have been done ever since as done especially by the Judicial Branch then headed by the former Chief Justice, the Late Cllr. Johnnie N. Lewis.

While some may consider the passage of the Bill by the Plenary of the Senate on Thursday, June 30, 2016 as very unfortunate and unpatriotic, reliance could also be on the ‘motion for reconsideration’ against the passage filed by Margibi County Senator Oscar Cooper wherein rationalism will prevail over ‘self-interest’.

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