Senate mandates its committees to inquire
The Senate yesterday mandated its Committees on Judiciary, Claims, Petitions, and Human Rights and Social Security, Pension & Insurance to inquire why the National Social Security &Welfare Corporation (NASSCORP) decided to invest US$1.4 million in the Cocopa Rubber Corporation at a time when the price of rubber on the global market is at its lowest.
The Senators, at their 45th day sitting, also want to gather from the NASSCORP authorities whether a risk analysis was done before the transaction, especially in the wake of recent workers unrests.
The lawmakers’ concern was prompted by a letter from the Senate chairman of the Committee on Concession & Investment, Bomi County Senator Sando Dazoe Johnson, in which he requested Senate Plenary to invite the NASSCORP leadership to provide a detailed explanation of the transaction.
“We are aware that monies within the custody of the National Social Security & Welfare Corporation are collected from workers across the country with the intent of providing retirement and other social reimbursements to beneficiaries,” he said.
NASSCORP, Senator Johnson said, “needs to provide reasons to the plenary of the Liberian Senate as to why they are investing our people’s money at a time when the present government is phasing out. There is a tendency that accountability could be lax and people could carry out the dubious act.”
The Liberian-owned plantation, which is situated on the Ganta-Saclepea highway in Nimba County, was in 2016 hit twice by strike actions when workers went on rampages, setting up roadblocks in demand of months of salary arrears.
The Nimba Rubber Incorporated, a Liberian-owned business, and the National Investment Commission on July 7, 2016, signed a concession agreement for the running of the Cocopa Rubber Plantation, which value was said to exceed US$20 million at the time. The concession agreement was reportedly entered into without Legislative approval.
Meanwhile, the Senate’s outspoken chair on Post & Telecommunications, Grand Bassa County Senator Nyonblee Karnga-Lawrence, tried in vain to convince her colleagues that the Committee on Social Security, Pension & Insurance, which has the oversight responsibility for NASSCORP, should take the lead in the inquiry. Instead, the Committee on Judiciary was tasked to take the lead since it was agreed by consensus that that matter had “legal implications.”