Liberia: Senate Votes On Dual Citizenship Debate On Thursday

-- Banking and Currency Committee retrieves L$35Bn printing report

The Secretariat of the Senate has been mandated to compile all notes from the day-long debate on Dual Citizenship, which is one of 13 Articles of the 1986 Constitution before the Senate for amendments.

According to the Senate plenary vote, the Secretariat report will be submitted to the Senate on Thursday, September 19, 2019 to be voted for approval or rejection by two third of members of that august body.

Grand Cape Mount County Senator, H. Varney Sherman, a lawyer by profession, who submitted the report to the Senate plenary presided over by President of the Senate and Vice President Jewel Howard-Taylor, underscored the need to give value that once a Liberian, always a Liberian.

Montserrado County Senator Abe Darius Dillon, passionately and vehemently pleaded for the passage of the Dual Citizenship, which is under Article 28 of the Liberian Constitution.

Like Senator Sherman, Dillion believes that once the blood of Liberia runs in the veins of an individual, such person should not be denied his/her birth right.

Although majority of the 23 Senators in attendance at Tuesday's sitting vowed to vote in favor of the Article, many of them, however will do so with caveats attached.

For example, Senator J. Milton Teahjay , of Sinoe County, though supports the proposal on the Dual Citizenship, he promised not to accept any law that supports such person hold offices of President, Vice President, Senator or any elected or appointed governmental positions.

Senators Sando Johnson, (Bomi County), Armah Jallah, Gbarpolu County, and Marshall Dennis, Grand Gedeh County, all support the proposal, but with similar caveats of limiting their functions in the areas such as superintendent, Senate, House of Representatives, Finance Minister, Defense, and/or President and Vice President.

Based on the passion shown by majority of the Senators, and the patience of the President of the Senate for the hours she spent in presiding, there are indications that the Dual Citizenship proposal will receive the necessary blessings towards referendum.

In another development, the chairman of the Senate Committee on Banking and Currency, A. Marshall Dennis, on Tuesday retrieved the submitted report his committee in which the Senate was requested to approve its recommendation for the printing of L$35 billion to replace L$21 billion of the current banknotes in circulations.

Dennis' decision to proffer the motion to return the report back to committee room, was necessitated by a minority report by a member of the Banking and Currency Committee, Oscar Cooper, who argued that due diligence was not done before the report was submitted to Senate plenary for action.

Senator Cooper warned that if the printing of the L$35 billion is approved, "I see additional and irrefutable hardship on our people, and we will only have ourselves to blame; if we do not carefully study the various scenarios, we will impose extreme hurt on the Liberian people who are already suffering from the last infusion of L$16 billion.

Senator Dennis welcomed Senator Cooper's decision, and agreed that there was a need for flexibility so that mistakes of the past are not repeated.

"We have observed that most of our colleagues still have a lot of lingering concerns on their minds that need answers; Mr. Cooper is quite correct when he said he sent to me that a list of questionnaire for Central Bank response, and since CBL is supposed to be responding to those concerns, at least to allay his apprehensions, it is but necessary that we accept his request to retrieve our report and invite CBL and the Ministry of Finance here," Senator Dennis said.

The CBL Governors and the Minister of Finance are meanwhile, expected to appear before the Banking committee on Thursday, immediately after the Senate's regular sitting.

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