House Speaker J. Emmanuel Nuquay says he hopes the Executive Branch of Government will submit to the Legislature the proposed national budget for the 2017/2018 Fiscal Year, as he expresses worries that “the most part of this year will be characterized by heightened political activities.”
Addressing the formal opening of the sixth and final session of the 53rd Legislature on Monday, 9 January, Speaker Nuquay said the Legislature wants to ensure that the 2017/2018 budget is passed in time and becomes operationalized by 1 July, thus seeking its early submission for scrutiny and deliberations.
Like presidential aspirants, current members of the House of Representatives, who may be seeking a renewal of their mandate will be battling against others from their constituencies in the October elections.
The Speaker said coordination of the branches of government here only enhances collective efforts as leaders, to do those things that are necessary in impacting the lives of “our people” and moving the country forward.
He also emphasized reconciliation as the first pillar of his vision, having assumed the office of Speaker of the House through an election that ended months of divide when representatives were split in two blocs, one against former Speaker Alex Tyler, while others supported him before he (Tyler) was finally dethroned last year.
“We will continue to reconcile because in unity, there is strength and as the old adage puts it, “a house divided against itself cannot stand”. Hence, reconciliation will remain a top priority of our leadership”, Speaker Nuquay said.
Regarding building the image of the Legislature, he first attributed the “mischaracterization of the Legislature in general and members of the House of Representatives” on the lack of understanding of the work of lawmakers and lack of information about their accomplishment.
“Legislators do not usually get praises for their accomplishments, even though everybody runs to the Capitol Building for solution when problem arises,” he argued. Speaker Nuquay said the image of the legislature has been tainted over the years with incessant public condemnations, as some members of the public have accused lawmakers of being self – interested and not doing anything for their constituents.
“We strongly reject this mischaracterization of the Legislature ingeneral and members of the House of Representatives in particular. We think what is responsible for this kind of negative branding is the lack of understanding of the work we do …” he argued.
Concerning the role of the media, he said the vision for the Legislature and the Country’s transformation agenda cannot be achieved in isolation, rather suggesting that the Fourth Branch is needed onboard if Liberians must have a truly holistic and functioning government.
He said some of the negative news in the media is due to the impression that the media is being isolated and neglected in the business of government. As such, Speaker Nuquay said there is a proposal for the inclusion of the Fourth Estate in the national budget beginning this 2017/2018 budget period to help construct the Headquarters of the Press Union of Liberia under the direction and supervision of the relevant agency of the Government and to provide training and capacity building for journalists across the country.
He expressed optimism that these measures will give birth to a responsible media that will help maintain the peace, improve the image of the country and attract investors to Liberia
By Bridgett Milton-Editing by Winston W. Parley