Liberia: Senate Passed 27 Bills Before Taking Annual Break

Monrovia — In keeping with its constitutional requirement, the Liberian Senate has taken its break to return next year January.

Article 32(a) of the Constitution states that "The Legislature shall assemble in regular session once a year on the second working Monday in January. (b) The President shall, on his own initiative or upon receipt of a certificate signed by at least one-fourth of the total membership of each House, and by proclamation, extend a regular session of the Legislature beyond the date for adjournment or call a special or extraordinary session of that body to discuss or act upon matters of national emergency and concern."

During its 3rd session, the Senate passed 27 bills. According to Senate Pro-Tempore Albert Chie, bills passed include the Re-stated and Amended Central Bank Act and the 2020/2021 National Budget. The Budget was approved and enacted into law at US$ 570,111,173.00.

As part of the budget approval process, the Legislature approved request of the Executive Branch and has placed an amount of US$1m in the 2020/2021 National Budget to help with the salaries of private school teachers.

The Senate also confirmed 59 people nominated to positions in Government by the President. There were, however, four instances where the Senate declined to approve the nominations and the President withdrew one nomination.

The Pro-temp stated: "The third session was made very difficult by the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic which has so far infected over 1,300 of our citizens and residents and caused the loss of about 84 lives. The pandemic has also strained the economy, led to the loss of jobs and other means of livelihood and reduced productivity in all sectors."

The Senate Pro-Temp paid tribute to health workers for their resilience and sacrifices in the management of the virus situation, causing the situation not to go out of bounds, despite the somehow denial behavior of some of the citizens.

Speaking on the education sector, he said, the educational sector was also affected by the COVID-19 situation. Schools and other learning institutions were closed and are gradually re-opening. Despite the closure of schools, the government honored its commitment to public schools, including the timely payment of their salaries.

Senator Chie: "However, the private schools had difficulties meeting the payment of the salaries of their teachers. But the Government is the Government; so it has decided to come to the aid of these private schools. To this end, the Legislature has approved the request of the Executive Branch and has placed an amount of US$1m in the 2020/2021 National Budget to help with the salaries of private school teachers.

"Despite the onslaught of the coronavirus, I can still report that significant progress on economic front has been made over the last 10 months. All civil servants received their salaries on time. The Central Bank has reported that the L$4 billion approved for printing by the Legislature has been brought into the country and is being infused into the economy. This, coupled with the review of the monetary policy and the institution of certain monetary and fiscal policies measures, continue to somehow resurrect public confidence, albeit slowly, in the banking sector.

"The price of Liberia's principal mineral exports, gold and iron ore, have started to improve on the world market. The combination of all of these factors continues to give us hope that Liberia's economic growth figures will improve in the coming years."

Pro-Temp Albert Chie also told legislative reporters that it is his belief that revenue showings could be above expectation in the first two quarters of next year and could spur a justification to do a supplementary budget at the beginning of 2021 and fund important programs in the health sector, education, security, rape and domestic violence, human trafficking and other essential programs which could not adequately be addressed in the just-approved National Budget.

"An amount of US$10m has been appropriated to commence immediate pavement of the stretch of the road in Nimba County from Ganta towards Tappita, where a major health facility, the Jackson F. Doe Memorial Hospital is located. Additionally, an amount of US$8m has been set aside in the budget as matching fund for the Ganta-Fishtown (Rivergee County) Project which will be funded by the GOL and International Partners. But the Government is starting ahead of the partners," he added.

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