Liberia: Senate Passes Power Theft Bill

Liberian Senate on Thursday, 29 August passed into law the Power Theft Bill based on recommendation by the Senate's committee on Lands, Mines, Natural Resources and Environment to plenary.The committee recommends that passage of the bill into law for economic development of the country.

The committee's report says the 2015 Electricity Law didn't criminalize power theft as a crime that sabotages the government.As such, the committee indicates that the Power Theft Bill is meant to repeal Chapter 6, Section 6.13 of the 2015 law of Liberia and to amend Chapter 15 of the Penal Law of Liberia by adding a new Section 15 .88.

According to the report, Section 6.13 of the 2015 Electricity Law provides that theft of electricity is a criminal offense and anyone [culpable] should be prosecuted under the laws of the Republic of Liberia.The committee recommends further that power theft should be considered here as a crime and national security crime because it damages the country's economic development.

Committee asserts that the crime is equal to economic sabotage, noting that it destroys lives and properties when illegal connections are done and cause fire outbreak at times.Additionally, the Senate committee says power theft constitutes tampering with transmission distribution, and interfering with or improper use of electric meter, among others.

It suggests that penalty should be awarded by competent court of jurisdiction based on the seriousnessof the offense, noting that reducing power theft will bring about economic development.However, Senator Augustine Chea of Sinoe County made a motion that the bill be enacted into law and a vote was unanimously made to pass the bill into law.By Ethel A. Tweh

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