The 3rd Session of the Liberian Senate has formally closed here, as lawmakers go for annual break.
The session, which was constitutional scheduled to have close on August 31, 2020, was extended due to urgent businesses, including debate on the FY 2020/2021 National Budget, which has been passed at over US$500 million.
In his adjournment statement, Senate President Pro-Tempore, Senator Albert T. Chie of Grand Kru County thanked his colleagues and staffers for their level of cooperation during the working period.
Pro-Tempore Chie recounted that during the 3rd Session of the 54th Legislature, 27 Bills were enacted into law, including the Central Bank Act. During the time under review, he said that the Senate confirmed 59 nominees submitted by President George Manneh Weah.
He disclosed that in four instances, the Senate declined to approve nominations from the President and Mr. Weah himself withdrew one of the nominations.
President Weah under constraint, withdrew the nomination of Nigerian national, Cllr. A. Ndubuisi Nwabudike, whose Liberian citizenship has come under serious questioning despite claiming he is a naturalized Liberian.
Currently serving the Liberian government as executive director of the Liberian Anti Corruption Commission, Counselor Nwabudike was nominated by the President to head the National Elections Commission when questions about his Liberian citizenship came about, mainly after he submitted documents to the Senate with three inconsistencies in his date of birth, which led Liberia National Bar Association to reject his membership.
However, Sen. Chie also recalled the 3rd Session of the 54th Legislature was challenged by the Coronavirus pandemic, saying that though none of the senators were affected by the virus, Liberians generally died. He pointed that the pandemic negatively affected the economy, causing many to lose jobs and other means of livelihood, further reducing productivity in all sectors.
At the same time he commended health workers for their resilience and sacrifices which led to containing the virus and prevented the situation going out of bound despite denial by some compatriots.
Pro-Tempore Chie said the educational sector was also affected by the COVID-19, as schools and other learning institutions closed, but are gradually reopening, adding that despite the closure of schools, the government honored its commitment to public schools, including payment of salaries on time unlike private schools which had difficulty in paying salaries during school closure.
The Government of Liberia recently announced a US$1 million aid package for private school teachers across the country.
The Grand Kru Senator said during the past 10 months, civil servants received salary on time and the Central Bank of Liberia printed and brought into the country additional 4 billion Liberian dollars, approved by the 54th Legislature. However, despite the infusion, the money printed in 500 Liberian banknotes is scarce in the market.
Meanwhile, Pro-Tempore Chie has cautioned aspirants and political parties against use of inflammatory statements which could spur electoral violence, urging Liberians to refrain from electoral violence and instead, make use of the security and the law.
By Ethel A Tweh–Editing by Jonathan Browne