12 January 2018

Liberia: President Sirleaf's Legislative Agenda Runs Aground

The last sitting of the 53rd Senate finally ended yesterday with the President Pro-tempore declaring the 6th Session adjourned, but without passing or ratifying a single item on its loaded agenda as called for by President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.

The next time the 30 Senators convene will be on Tuesday to elect its new corps of leaders including the President Pro-tempore and other operatives of the Senate Secretariat and Chamber. Sitting President Pro-tempore Armah Jallah, in fact, may have just presided over his last session in that capacity.

President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, in accordance with the Constitution, recently through a proclamation recalled members of the Legislature to sit for an additional nine days to complete the passage of a number of bills on her Legislative agenda.

Yesterday's agenda contained 15 reports from Standing Committees, including the Bill from Senator Varney Sherman (Grand Cape Mt.), which is intended to regulate the status of tenured and non-tenured personnel of the Liberian Government, also scheduled for debate.

Other important reports on the agenda included the Act Ratifying the Agreement for the Establishment of the Export-Import Bank (AFREXIMBANK); an Act to Ratify the Concession Agreement between the Republic of Liberia and Firestone Liberia Incorporated; and the Amendments to the Constitution of the Republic of Liberia (CRC Propositions).

The much talked-about US$41 million Dangote Cement Investment Agreement was conspicuously absent from the list of four items submitted by President Sirleaf for legislation.

Among the President's four items were the Line of credit Agreement for Financing private sector projects between the Arab Bank for Economic Development in Africa and Liberian Bank for Development and Investment (LBDI), dated April 21, 2017.

Also included is the Guarantee Agreement for the lines of Credit provided to LBDI to Finance private sector projects and trade transactions in the Republic of Liberia between the Republic of Liberia and the Arab Bank for Economic Development in Africa (BADEA) dated May 25, 2017.

Some Senators who spoke to our Legislative reporter could neither confirm nor deny rumors that the Senate's action was as a result of the President's failure to meet up with some financial obligations owed them. Others however, argued that it would be pointless to ratify any legislation after the House of Representatives had earlier adjourned. "The 54th Legislature is right around the corner, in fact next week, so why the rush? Hurry, hurry burst trousers," one Senator retorted with an age old Liberian maxim.

Meanwhile, the Legislative Press Pool (LEGISPOL) will this afternoon, on Capitol Hill, conduct debates between candidates ahead of the elections for the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the President Pro-tempore of the Senate, on Monday and Tuesday, respectively, in the Joint Chamber.


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