12 December 2017

Liberia: Senate Holds Major Executive Session Today

The Senate is scheduled to hold probably its biggest Executive Session today that will include the heads of the country's foremost financial houses: the Executive Governor of Central Bank of Liberia (CBL), the Ministers of Finance and Commerce, and the Commissioner General of Liberia Revenue Authority (LRA).

A communication by the secretary of the Senate, J. Nanborlor F. Singbeh, addressed to the Minister of Finance and Development Planning, Boima S. Kamara, has cited him to appear based on a communication from Senator Jonathan L. Kaipay of Grand Bassa County to Senate plenary on the current state of the economy, which has claimed the attention of the Senate.

Minister Kamara is requested to appear at 12:00 p.m. today to provide an update on the 2nd Quarter of the 2017/2018 Budget and revenue generated during the quarter under review in line with the LRA's revenue projection, for which he should appear with "all relevant documents appertaining thereto, so as to enhance the discussions."

The CBL Executive Governor, Milton A. Weeks, is expected to provide an update on the current rate of exchange between the United States dollar (USD) and Liberian dollar (LRD), citing the uncontrollable increase in the rate between the two. Commerce Minister Axel Addy will provide information on the hike in the prices of basic commodities and plans for stabilization.

The Commissioner General of the LRA, Madam Elfrieda S. Tamba, like the Finance Minister, will be expected to provide an update on the 2nd Quarter of the 2017/2018 Budget and revenue generated during the quarter under review in line with the LRA's revenue projection.

It may be recalled that Senator Kaipay last week sent a communication dated November 20, 2017, to Senate plenary requesting that body to cite both Minister Kamara and Mrs. Tamba to provide information on the current state of the country's economy.

The Grand Bassa County lawmaker wants the information to be requested from the two finance houses to include an update on the 2nd Quarter of the Budget on which the government is currently operating, and the revenue generated during the quarter under review, according to LRA's revenue projection.

The ensuing debate resulted in a majority of the 16 Senators present in a unanimous agreement to not only invite Minister Kamara and Commissioner General Tamba, but that the Executive Governor of the CBL and Minister of Commerce also be cited.

Senator Nyonblee Karnga-Lawrence, who earlier this year flagged the deplorable state of the economy with emphasis on the exchange rate, told her colleagues that the situation is fast approaching an alarming state: "Referral hospitals have not received supplies for over three months and people are dying for lack of drugs. With such a situation, we need to know how much we have as a budget before the sitting of the new government to avoid an economic disaster," she noted.

Because of the important and urgent nature of the communication, one group of Senators suggested that the Senate conduct an open (public) hearing, while others suggested that due to the sensitive nature of what may be divulged by the officials to be cited, the Senate should constitute itself into a committee and conduct hearings in executive session (behind closed doors).

With a vote of 15 for and one abstention, the Senate agreed that the Ministers of Finance and Commerce, the CBL Governor and LRA Commissioner General be cited to brief the Senate on the state of the economy referencing their respective institutions.

The four government officials cited are to appear before the Senate in Executive Session today, Tuesday, December 12, 2017.


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