‘Comprehensive Legislative Reform Needed’

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The Director of the Legislative Information Service (LIS) has informed both Houses of the National Legislature, on the need to reform their operations.

In a seven-page letter of recommendations, Director McCarthy Weh, II identified six major areas that needed reform.

“Having attended to your duties and functions of lawmaking in the last ten years, it is about time to focus on internal reforms of the first branch of government,” Mr. Weh observed.

The seven-page letter proposes internal reforms “so that, as we, as a nation, thread the path of transformation in our ongoing nation rebuilding, reforms will underpin our collective drive.”

The letter is entitled: Need for a Comprehensive Reform of the Operations of the Legislature, and recognizes progress in the last decade; spotlights challenges and suggests internal reforms, which it said set the stage the agenda for much more effective and efficient running of the First Branch during the next two legislative terms of the 54th and 55thLegislature.

It said the Legislature has endeavored to execute the mandate of its three functions while improving the outlook of its physical structures, this same momentum has not been directed to the internal operations of the Legislature.

“Internal reforms have not been heard of, least to talk of evolving and executing at the Liberian Legislature in recent decades. It is predicated upon this that we sense a compelling need to shift the Legislature’s attention to internal reforms in the last years of the 53rd Legislature,” Director Weh disclosed in the LIS document.

Weh said there was no better time than to offer recommendations, especially when the lawmakers are visiting with their constituents and holding discussions on wide range of issues. The need to reform the Legislature, he noted, is one critical issue on which they may seek the opinions of their constituents as they come close to the end of twelve years. “If such matter is placed on your Recess Agenda, it could assist in informing you on what contributions to proffer when you shall have been briefed by your respective leadership upon your return in January 2016,” he said.

Six areas that need consideration, according to Mr. Weh, include the strengthening of internal audit departments with semi-independence status, introduction of administration and management for inclusion of departmental budget lines exclusive from budgetary allotments for members in the national budget, among others.

The LIS letter also recommends that the Legislature engage the Executive Branch to bring senior staff on income par with their counterparts in the Executive and Judicial branches.

The letter wants the Legislature to develop staff by building their capacity through budgetary means while calling on that body to do away with manual voting system and make electronic voting mandatory in both Chambers.

The extraction of Administration from “Rules, Order and Administration” to be called “Committee on Rules and Order” leaving policymakers with national issues is one recommendation.

Meanwhile, credible Legislative statistics displayed by LIS show that within the period 2006 to 2015, the Legislature has acted on 310 legislative instruments, 113 laws enacted, 145 ratifications of international protocols and 52 amendments.

Some of the laws acted on and described as ‘quite impressive, remarkable and commendable’ include the Financial Management Law, the Liberia Revenue Authority (LRA), the Code of Conduct and the establishment of various integrity institutions.

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