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GeneralLiberia news

Justice Minister risks contempt 

By Bridgett Milton

The House of Representatives has ordered Justice Minister Frank Musa Dean to justify why lawmakers should not hold him in contempt after he failed to update them about some petroleum dealers’ debts.

The House has summoned Minister Dean to appear before its Plenary at 10:00 A.M. prompt on Thursday, 2 March 2023, to show cause why he should not be held in contempt.

During the lawmakers’ sitting Tuesday, 28 February, members of the House of Representatives voted for the Justice Minister to come along with his legal counsel and answer why he should not be held in contempt.

Last week, members of the House of Representatives unanimously summoned 10 petroleum importers and authorities of the Liberia Revenue Authority (LRA).

They also summoned authorities of the National Road Fund (NRF) for allegedly reneging of taxation on petroleum products collected or taxation being withheld by petroleum importers in the tune of millions of dollars.

House Speaker Bhofal Chambers discharged West Oil and MOTC for reportedly being in compliance.

However, Chambers asked why Mr. Musa Bility, Chairman of petroleum firm Srimex, shouldn’t be held in contempt for not appearing before Plenary during previous sitting to respond to debts in taxation.

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Mr. Bility quickly mounted the podium with apology to that august body and said his absence was not intentional, but he was not in country when the House invited him.

During the House’s regular session on Tuesday, 31 January 2023, Nimba County Electoral District #2 Representative Prince O. S. Tokpah explained to his colleagues through a communication about why the National Road Fund was established by an Act of the Legislature in 2006.

He said this was done to ensure among other things that road assets are sustained and that sufficient funds for both periodic and routine maintenance are allocated for that purpose. 

He added that the National Road Fund was intended to ensure that national, sub-national and feeder roads have sufficient share of the total funds such that these roads can operate as an integrated network.

It said it was meant to ensure that the needs of the road users and those impacted by roads are considered in terms of safety, security and environment.

According to him, the funds generated should finance roads and maintenance of bridges, and activities directly associated with planning, programming, and management.

“But looking across the country, it becomes difficult to comprehend whether the National Road Fund is meeting up its tasks,” said Mr. Tokpah.

“Majority of our roads across the country are impassable, especially during the peak of the rainy season. Road maintenance is a serious challenge. Damaged bridges are found all across the country,” he added.

Based on his communication, the House Plenary decided to invite those concerned.

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