Presidential Press Secretary, Isaac Solo Kelgbeh says members of the legislature, making specific reference to the Senate, did not help President George Weah when they signed a resolution endorsing the president’s State of Emergency (SOE).
Mr. Kelgbeh told this paper Tuesday that when the president spoke of providing a stimulus package, he was cleared in mentioning the four counties that were initially affected-Montserrado, Margibi, Nimba and Grand Kru and that the President’s SOE was for 21 days.
Instead, members of the Legislature did not only approve the SOE, but also extended same for 60 days and recommended that the stimulus package should benefit the entire country without sourcing additional funding or making an appropriation for the additional funding. Mr. Kelgbehe explains that this is where the lawmakers failed to help the president.
“The President’s mandate was based on the affected counties at the time,” Mr. Kelgbeh said. “So with the increase…that is why we are now saying the most vulnerable,” he added.Mr. Kelgbeh says President Weah is not in favor of the prolong lockdown of the country because of the negative effect it is having on the economy but he has been constrained to do so.
He says, he is not sure that president Weah would extend the lock down beyond the 60 days.
President Weah over a month ago presented a stimulus package before the Liberian Legislature to provide emergency relief to citizens here during the country’s State of Emergency. An amount of US$25million was earmarked to cover the entire stimulus package, which includes emergency food distribution, electricity and water supply, hazard pay for medical workers etc.
Since the rectification of the resolution by the National Legislature, which did not only approved the President’s State of Emergency (SOE) but also extended the SOE by 60 days with a controversial USD6, 500 payoff to members of the Senate-some senators described it as payment of overdue operational funds, while others say it was their sitting fees for coming back from break to sign the SOE, the package is yet to be distributed.
However, the Steering Committee which comprises government officials, opposition members and the World Food Program says the household food support program will target vulnerable groups and slum communities.
According to the Steering Committee Chairman, Commerce Minister Wilson Tarpeh, the distribution will be modelled after the former Special Emergency Life Food (SELF) food distribution program but will be headed by the World Food Program assisted by the community leaders in targeted slum areas beginning May 23.