12 January 2018

Liberia: House Adjourns, Shelving Ellen's Last-Minute Bills

Photo: Liberian Legislature
The Capitol Building houses the Liberian legislature

The House of Representatives has finally adjourned the 53rd Legislature and leaves behind the much-unfinished business, including all the listed bills of President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, which she described as "draft bills of vital importance to the economy and revenue generation."

Thursday's session was adjourned after a motion was tendered by Lofa County District #3 Representative Clarence Massaquoi when the agenda was read, which had a single item -- adjournment.

37 Representatives, who were present, according to the record of the Chief Clerk Mildred Sayon, said yea, to support the motion.

"We hereby adjourn to meet on Monday, January 15, to attend to the transitional ceremony of the 53rd Legislature to the 54th Legislature," Speaker Nuquay said as he knocked the gavel.

However, in an interview with the Speaker, he said the House has adjourned without the approval of any of the bills, for which President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf recalled them, for an extra nine (9) days -- January 4 thru 13.

"There are issues... . there are concerns, many Liberians felt quite strongly that at this point in time, during the transition, it's not the time to legislate bills that will have a far-reaching impact on the governance of the republic, taking into consideration that the new government will be inaugurated on January 22," the Speaker said.

Speaker Nuquay added: "More so, the incoming government is very concerned and reached out to us and they, too, feel quite strongly that in the fact of transitional period, all other matters that are discussed by the outgoing and the incoming, including if there will be any new legislation... passed by the Legislature, they should have a say."

He further said: "We created the opportunity for both the outgoing President and the incoming President to have a conversation and to revert to us as to whether there will be a meeting of the minds for us to proceed but to this date, we don't have a feedback, so we have to adjourn."

Thursday's closure marked the end of the 53rd Legislature, which began in January 2012.

Meanwhile, it may be recalled that the President submitted a 'Matrix of 22 Bills with a priority of 13 Bills' to the Legislature to be considered during the 9-day extension, which runs from Thursday, January 4 to Saturday, January 13, 2018.

But Grand Cape Mount Count Senator, Cllr. Varney Sherman, recently said the 13 prioritized bills submitted by the President are not only impractical but are "very unlikely and doubtful" because no amount of "rubber-stamping and 4G speed" could allow both Houses to pass the 13 Bills.

The 13 prioritized bills, in which the President wants to be passed include: Investment Incentive 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 (AFREMIXBANK); An Act to Amend Title 25, Patriotic and Cultural Observances Law, Chapter 3, Recognition of Distinguished Service, by adding thereto to a New Subsection 64 to be named the Order of the Republic, as well as An Act to name Certain Roads and Bridges within the Republic of Liberia.

Others are A Bill to Amend Chapter 22 Subsection 22.76(a) of the Liberian National Police Act, 2015; Land Rights Bill; A Bill to Amend Section 6.1(5) of the Aliens and Nationality Law of Liberia, Title 4, Liberian Codes 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).

The remaining Bills include An Act Repealing the Public Employment Law and Amending the Executive Law to Create a Civil Service Commission; Amendment to the Amended and Restated Concession Agreement between the Republic of Liberia inc.; A Bill to Ratify the Concession Agreement between the Republic of Liberia and the Nimba Rubber Incorporated (NRI) and the Amendments to the Constitution of the Republic/CRC Propositions and An Act to Amend Title 21 of the Liberian Code of Laws of 1956 to update the Provisions of the Maritime Law and Maritime Regulations to implement the Maritime Labor Convention, 2006 and Incorporating other necessary and appropriate Provisions relating to the name change of the Bureau of Maritime Affairs to the Liberia Maritime Authority including edits that were inadvertently overlooked in previous years of the codification of the Maritime Laws and Regulations.

On Monday, January 15, a program marking the transitioning of the 53rd Legislature to the 54th will be held respectively in each chamber and climaxed with a luncheon.


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