14 January 2013

Liberia: Lawmakers Return With Unfinished Businesses

Members of the Liberian Legislature are today 14 January resuming work after five months break. According to the Constitution of Liberia, the functions of the Legislature include; lawmaking, oversight and representation.

It is expected that members of the first branch of government will commence their activities with the early passage of the "Code of Conduct Bill" in the second sitting of the 53rd Legislature.

The bill was submitted by the Executive about two years ago, but both the House of Representatives and the Liberian Senate have failed to act on or enact the document into law for unexplained reasons.

The bill seeks among others to place restrictions on government officials in the usage of public properties, including vehicles and funds allotted to their respective offices, something that seems to not being welcomed by the legislators.

Also, the Legislature is expected to possibly pass the Decent Work Bill, which seeks to provide minimum wages for employees as well as protect the rights of both employers and employees.

Prior to the end of their first sitting, the lawmakers drafted and subsequently submitted to plenary of both chambers to stop the Executive from appointment acting officials for protracted period, including city mayors.

On the aspect of oversight, there are reports that some representatives and senators are seriously considering to invite President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf to provide reasons why she has failed to submit quarterly progress report on the implementation of recommendations advanced by the defunct Truth and Reconciliation Commission to the Capitol.

Some senators, who confided in this paper, said it has been unfortunate that President Sirleaf, who supposed to be chief unifier has fell short to provide the first branch of government with development as it relates to the report.

Findings and recommendations submitted by the Commission require the government through the Office of the President to furnish the legislature with updates on the TRC report geared at moving the country forward with reconciliation through palava hut meetings.

Reports within the corridors of the Capitol says the Legislature is about to double its effort on introducing some political reinforcement for the Executive branch to promptly conduct the payroll audit in order to effect salary increment for civil servants as earlier agreed by the two branches of government.

Meanwhile, the leadership of the Legislature has reportedly spent US$500,000 to give the grounds of the Capitol a facelift, but the report was strongly rejected by the House of Representatives Chairman on Rules and Order, Representative Edwin Melvin Snowe.

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