10 January 2018

Liberia: Ellen Withholds Lawmakers Salaries?

The capitol building, the home of the national legislature, is inundated with lots of burning and mind-boggling issues, ranging from elections for Speaker at the House of Representatives and President Pro-Tempe at the Senate on one hand and the passage of tons of bills proffered by President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.

While the incoming 54th Legislature is concerned about the elections of Speaker and Pro-Tempe, the outgoing 53rd is faced with whether to act on the President's request to pass 13 different bills.

Amid such a serious national agenda is the issue of delayed or unpaid salaries that is said to be taking center stage behind the scene.

It is reported that lawmakers have not taken direct salaries for about eight months, besides other benefits.

According to information filtering into The New Republic Newspaper, lawmakers are reportedly uneasy with the holding of their salaries for few months by the Executive Branch headed by the President who is just few days away from leaving office.

Legislative insider confided in this paper that the President is allegedly withholding paying lawmakers, particularly the House of Representatives in demand for the passage of some legislation.

This paper could not immediately verify the information from either the presidency or authorities at the House.

According to the insider, the President is demanding that the House passes into law some instruments submitted by her before she can release their legitimate benefits.

The Liberian leader about a week recalled the Legislature into emergency session in line with the Constitution to address urgent national issues, mainly 13 bills she wants to pass into law before leaving office on January 22.

"The President is yet to pay us for the past eight months now in the tone of about one million United States dollars, even though she has cleared her entire executive and the Liberian Senate. But she was brave to tell us that she will only release our salaries when we pass her Bills she has submitted," the source said.

But the lawmakers are said to be adamant not to adhere to the mandate of the Liberian leader, this paper was told.

The burden of passing of those legislations, if deem necessary by the new government, could be placed upon the new government, it is said.

Meanwhile, President Sirleaf has submitted over 13 Bills to the House of Representatives for enactment into within the period of less than two weeks.

A communication sent to the august body by the Liberian leader cites the main reason for recalling the legislature to obtain legislative actions on some important Bills regarding the country's economy.

"I wish to thank your Honorable Body for the brief return to duty in keeping with my request in accordance with Article 329d) of the constitution. As you know the main reason for the recall is to obtain legislative actions on some important draft Bills of vital important to the economy and revenue generation that have been pending with your domain," the President communication's noted.

Prominent among these Bills submitted by President Sirleaf are the Investment incentive Agreement between Liberia and Dangote Cement Liberia Ltd, An Act to name certain roads and bridges in Liberia, A Bill to amend chapter 22 subsection 22.76 (a) of the national Police Act and the Land Rights Bill.

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