Monrovia — Multiple sources within the Legislature have hinted FrontPageAfrica that Executive has frozen the Liberian dollar component of lawmakers' benefits for the past six months (since June 2017) until they can pass 13 bills submitted by President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.
The benefit, according to lawmakers, is the equivalent of US$500.00 in Liberian dollars.
According to our source, the President made her last push for the passage of the bills by the extension of the 6th Session of the 53rd Legislature by nine days which is supposed to end by next week.
A lawmaker who spoke with the FPA on the basis of anonymity said, President Sirleaf has told him and some of his colleagues in one of their meetings with her that she will only release their salary and benefits for November and December if they honoured her request.
When contacted for reaction on this allegation, Presidential Press Secretary Jerolinmek Piah told FrontPageAfrica he could comment on the issue until this paper discloses its source of the information to him. He, however, described the lawmakers who hinted this paper on the issue on the basis of anonymity as "cowards".
But the lawmakers say they'll not bow to the President's manoeuvring by signing the bills under duress.
"If she says she cannot pay, we'll wait for the new government because our salary is in the Budget and the Budget is a law, so we cannot pass laws because the President wants us to do so," one of the lawmakers said.
Both Houses received the bills from the office of the President on Tuesday, January 9, 2018 and were forwarded to the respective committees for review.
The committees are to report to plenary on Thursday, January 11 for deliberation and subsequent decision.
Bills submitted include, Investment Agreement between the Republic of Liberia and Dangote Cement Liberia Ltd, An act Ratifying the Agreement for the establishment of the African Export-Import Bank, An Act to name certain Roads and Bridges within the Republic of Liberia, A Bill to amend Chapter 22 subsection 22.7 (a) of the Liberian National Police Act, 2015 and the Land right Bill.
Others include, A bill to amend section 6.1(5) of the Aliens and Nationality law of Liberia, title 4, Liberian Code of laws revised, regarding permits of residence, A Bill to ratify the Investment incentive Agreement between the Republic of Liberia and the TIDFORE Investment Company and Liberia Steel and Cement mining (LICEMCO) as well as An act repealing the Public Employment law and amending the Executive law to create a civil Service Commission.
The President also wants the following amendments: Amendment to the amended and restated Concession Agreement between the Republic of Liberia and Firestone Liberia Inc., A Bill to Ratify the Concession between the Republic of Liberia and Nimba Rubber Incorporated (NRI), the Domestic Violence Bill and Amendments to the Constitution of the Republic of Liberia/CRC propositions and An Act to Ratify the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, amongst others.
Last week, President Sirleaf issued a proclamation extending the sixth and final session of the 53rd National Legislature of the Republic of Liberia by nine days beginning January 4th, 2018. The proclamation followed the signing of a certificate of extension by members of the Senate and House of Representatives, respectively.
"Whereas, the Sixth and Final Regular Session of the 53rdLegislature of the Republic of Liberia, was extended through a Certificate of Extension signed by members of the Senate and House of Representatives respectively, to extend the Regular Session from September 1, thru December 31, 2017", the proclamation recalls.
The proclamation notes that Article 32 (b) of the Constitution of the Republic of Liberia provides that the President shall, on the President's own initiative or upon receipt of a certificate signed by at least one-fourth of the total membership of each House, and by proclamation, extend a Regular Session of the Legislature beyond the date of adjournment or call a Special or Extraordinary Session of that Body to discuss or act upon matters of national emergency and concern; and
In her request for extension she claimed that the legislature acknowledges that there are several unresolved key matters of national interest that require the urgent attention of the 53rd Legislature and is aware of the emergency nature of these matters, which are all geared toward the enhancement of the socio-economic interests of the State and its people.
The proclamation realizes that cognizant of the limitation of time to discuss these key matters to facilitate the smooth transition from one democratically elected government to another; which requires the participation and involvement of the 53rd Legislature in Session.
"Convinced that the President of the Republic of Liberia shall appropriately take advantage of the Constitution of the Republic of Liberia to invoke Article 32 (b) as a sole means to involve the participation of the 53rd Legislature in Extraordinary Session to address these unresolved state matters", it emphasized.
The proclamation concludes "Now Therefore, I, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, President of the Republic of Liberia, by virtue of the authority in me vested, do hereby issue this Proclamation for the 53rd Legislature to reconvene into an Extraordinary Session for a period of Nine (9) Days, commencing January 4 thru January 12, 2018".