Senators on Capitol Hill may be in a joyous mood right now with reports coming from the corridors of the Liberian Senate, indicating that body received a total of US$180,000 from the executive for the recent endorsement of the State of Emergency and stimulus package submitted subsequently by President George Manneh Weah.
It is yet unclear whether members of the House of Representatives also received such amount for the State of Emergency and stimulus package endorsement. But it has been customary at the Legislature that in lobbying fees for legislative materials passage, the same amount is duly shared between both the Senate and the Houses.
Sources revealed that earlier delay by legislators to have acted on the State of Emergency and the stimulus package was due to delay from the executive branch in releasing funds dubbed as lobbying fee.
Last week Friday, members of the 54th Legislature overwhelmingly voted that the 21 days State of Emergency be extended to two months.Both the House of Representatives and the Liberian Senate passed a Joint Resolution, endorsing both documents from the President.
Earlier, sources claimed each received US$9,000 for the deal, but speaking to reporters in his office at the Capitol, Montserrado County Senator Abraham Darious Dillon said each senator actually received US$6,000 and that the amount is intended for operational cost for lawmakers.
There are speculations that members of the 54th Legislature signed the Joint Resolution because of the financial package attached, but Dillon said, based on his conviction, the stimulus package and the State of Emergency are helpful for the citizenry and the State.
When asked if the money did not amount to clear bribery, he defended that it was for speedy passage of both documents. The opposition lawmaker, who is seeking re-election, maintained the amount has nothing to do with bribery, instead; it meant for operation.
However, he failed to explain what sorts of operational cost lawmakers have incurred or they expect to incur during the coronavirus pandemic.
By E. J. Nathaniel Daygbor–Editing by Jonathan Browne