Liberia - Senate to Hold Special Session On Eton Loan Agreement

Monrovia — Contrary to public expectations that the Liberian Senate would have just concurred with the House of Representatives on the Eton loan financing agreement, the Senate has scheduled a special session for Friday, June 8, on the agreement.

On Monday, June 4, the Joint Legislative Committees on Ways, Means, Finance and Development Planning and Judiciary Monday, had public hearing on loan agreement with stakeholders.

All of the speakers at public hearing , had pushed the lawmakers to rectify the Eton US$536 million loan financing agreement between the Government of Liberia and Eton.

Following the hearing, when the House of Representatives met, they unanimously passed the agreement into law and sent it to the Senate for concurrence.

The way it had been swiftly passed by the House in spite of all the controversies surrounding it, some Liberians felt that the Senate would have just concurred with the House as its (Senate's) members on Ways, Means, Finance and Development Planning and Judiciary, had taken part in the joint meeting with the stakeholders.

However, the Senate has now called for a special session to discuss it further.

The session is expected to bring together legal and financial experts and other stakeholders to discuss the pros and cons of the loan agreement before it can be considered for ratification or not. According to Senator Gble-gbo Brown of Maryland County, the intent is to understand the agreement properly and to also hear from the ordinary public on why it should or should not be passed.

Members of the House of Representatives Tuesday unanimously passed the controversial US$536 million loan from Eton Finance Private Limited, but restricted the sovereign guarantee to the government's consolidated fund.

The loan agreement received a unanimous vote from the floor with one lawmaker, Representative Nyumalin Francis Sakila of Lofa County District 1, abstaining from the process.

The loan financing agreement was ratified a day after a public hearing conducted by the Legislature Ways, Means and Finance and Judiciary committees.

The restriction of the sovereign guarantee to the consolidated account means should the government default on payment, Eton would not be able to seize any of Liberia's assets at home or abroad or natural resources, but would be able to take money from the country's consolidated account.

At the joint public hearing on Monday, Justice Minister Cllr. Musa Dean said all the internal procedures, including approvals, consents and authorizations required by the Constitution and laws of Liberia for the negotiation and signing of the loan financing agreement have been taken, fulfilled and observed.

Resolution for by-election

Meanwhile, in another Senate news, a resolution from President George Weah setting the date for the by-elections in Montserrado and Bong Counties has received majority signatures from members of the Senate. According to Senator Brown of Maryland County, bulk of the members of the Senate has signed the resolution.

President George Weah last week wrote members of the Legislature requesting them to pass a resolution that would set July 31, 2018, as the date for the holding of the senatorial by-elections in the two counties.

In the communication sent to the legislature, President Weah informed members of both Houses that the National Elections Commission (NEC) has informed the Executive branch of government that it is prepared to hold the by-elections no later than July 31, 2018.

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