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Legislature nets over US$240m

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A circular released here has revealed that the Liberian Legislature during the period 2006-2015 received a total amount of US$240,805,960.00 as budgetary allocations, but with very limited impact on key offices at the Capitol, particularly information services.

Vol.6 No

Circular 001.07.16 released by the Legislative Information Service or LIS under the caption: The Case for a “New Legislative Beginning with Renewed Efforts”, calls on members of the 53rd Legislature to embrace the need for a new legislative beginning and act in ways aimed at building a more effective Legislature, as Liberia transitions in 2018.

The Director of the Legislative Information Service and Head of Secretariat of the Joint Legislative Modernization Committee, Mr. B. McCarthy Weh, II said statistics reveal that since the 2006-2007 Budget year, the Legislature has received in appropriation, a total amount of US$240,805,960.00 (240.8m).

Speaking at a two-day retreat recently in Buchanan, Grand Bassa County, Mr. Weh indicated when the Legislature received such a mouth-watering amount over the years, which could, in fact, see an increment in the 2016/2017 appropriations, and yet there are no accountability means to audit such “mammoth” expenditures, and no effective internal audit control mechanisms with the lack of internal audit department at the House of Representatives, while the one established by the Senate lacking adequate support, then uncompromisingly, and with every compelling dictate, there is need to embark upon a ‘new beginning’ agenda in the first branch of government.

According to him, when such amounts are made available over the years and to date, there is yet no electronic voting system and no “administration and management” in the internal budgetary structuring of the Legislature, which contributes massively to undermining accountability and transparency, then the call for a ‘new beginning’ is compelling.

He also emphasizes that with these amounts provided over the years and to date, the Legislature lacks functional website, electronic voting system as well as internet/Wi-Fi facility, coupled with budgetary support to implement a modernization plan approved since September, 2008, among others, then the need for a new beginning cannot be overly exclaimed.

McCarthy further details that out of the US$240.8m appropriated during the period, the House of Representatives received US$159,604,289.00 (159.6m), which constitutes 66.28 percent, while the Liberian Senate did receive US$81,201,671.00 (81.2m), amounting to 33.72 percent.

“For the benefit of those reading this communication who may not be informed, the amount for the Senate is less due to the size of the Senate with 30 Members as compared to the House of Representatives that has 73 Members. It is important to state that the total amount as recorded herein may be LESS by any amounts that may have been deducted by the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning (MFDP) at any time of the budget execution periods”, he added.

However, he reflected that under the same period, the Legislature acted on 310 legislative instruments, and enacted 113 laws.  “A total of 145 international instruments have been ratified with 52 amendments recorded. Courtesy of the Offices of the Secretary of the Senate! This is quite impressive and will be more so when updated to include 2016. Oversight and representation functions have also been executed to some appreciable degree. We must commend the 53rd Legislature and that of the 52nd. However, with respect to legislative budgetary appropriations which could aid in the effective running of the Legislature, much is needed to be desired”, he concluded in his circular to the lawmakers, some of whom, including Speaker Alex Tyler and Senator Varney Sherman have been indicted by the State for economic crime and other charges.

By E. J. Nathaniel Daygbor-Editing by Jonathan Browne

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