– But, Sen. Sherman says “it’s impractical.”
President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has written members of the House of Representatives and the Senate of the 53rd Legislature to approve at least 13 bills by Saturday, January 13, 2018, but the Chairman on the Senate Committee on Judiciary, Cllr. Varney Sherman, says the President’s idea is “very impractical.”
The Dangote Cement Liberia deal in the tune of US$41 million and the extension of the Firestone Agreement top the list of the President’s 13 bills.
President Sirleaf has submitted a ‘Matrix of 22 bills with a priority of 13 bills’ to the Legislature to be considered during the 9-day extension, which is already in effect as of Thursday, January 4, to Saturday, January 13, 2018.
But in an exclusive interview with Senator Varney Sherman yesterday, he said the 13 prioritized bills submitted by the President is not only impractical, but is “very unlikely and doubtful,” because no amount of ‘rubber stamping and 4G speed’ will allow both Houses to pass the 13 Bills.
“It is very doubtful, extremely difficult; there is no time, it is impractical, because the President’s Bills will not only be the issues, there are issues on elections of the President Pro Tempore, Speaker and Deputy Speaker,” Sen. Sherman said.
It can be recalled that the President issued a proclamation extending the sixth and final Session of the 53rd Legislature by nine days beginning January 4, 2018.
Accordingly, the proclamation followed the signing of a certificate of extension by members of the Senate and House of Representatives respectively.
“Whereas, the Sixth and Final Regular Session of the 53rd Legislature was extended through a Certificate of Extension signed by members of the Senate and House of Representatives respectively to extend the Regular Session from September 1, thru December 31, 2017,” the proclamation said.
The proclamation notes that Article 32 (b) of the Constitution of Liberia provides that the President shall, on the President’s 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 of adjournment or call a Special or Extraordinary Session of that body to discuss or act upon matters of national emergency and concern.
The President’s proclamation also acknowledged that there are several unresolved key matters of national interest that require the urgent attention of the 53rd Legislature and is aware of the emergency nature of these matters, which are all geared toward the enhancement of the socioeconomic interests of the state and its people.
Also, the proclamation realizes that cognizant of the limitation of time to discuss these key matters to facilitate the smooth transition from one democratically elected government to another, which requires the participation and involvement of the 53rd Legislature in Session, it is “convinced that the President of the Republic of Liberia shall appropriately take advantage of the Constitution of the Republic of Liberia to invoke Article 32 (b) as a sole means to involve the participation of the 53rd Legislature in Extraordinary Session to address these unresolved state matters.”
The proclamation concludes, “Now therefore, I, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, President of Liberia, by virtue of the authority in me vested, do hereby issue this Proclamation for the 53rd Legislature to reconvene into an Extraordinary Session for a period of nine days, commencing January 4, thru January 12, 2018.”
13 Prioritized Bills
The 13 prioritized bills which the President wants passed include, Investment Incentive Agreement between Liberia and Dangote Cement-Liberia Limited; An Act Ratifying the Agreement for the Establishment of the African Export Import Bank (AFREMIXBANK); An Act to Amend Title 25, Patriotic and Cultural Observances Law, Chapter 3, Recognition of Distinguished Service, by adding thereto to a New Subsection 64 to be named the Order of the Republic and An Act to name Certain Roads and Bridges in the country.
Others are, a bill to Amend Chapter 22 Subsection 22.76(a) of the Liberian National Police Act, 2015; Land Rights Bill; a Bill to Amend Section 6.1(5) of the Aliens and Nationality Law of Liberia, Title 4, Liberian Codes of Laws Revised, regarding Permits of Residence; a Bill to Ratify the Investment Incentive Agreement between Liberia and the TIDFORE investment Company and Liberia Steel and Cement Mining (LICEMCO).
The remaining Bills include An Act Repealing the Public Employment Law and Amending the Executive Law to Create a Civil Service Commission; Amendment to the Amended and Restated Concession Agreement between Liberia incorporated; a Bill to Ratify the Concession Agreement between Liberia and the Nimba Rubber Incorporated (NRI) and the Amendments to the country’s Constitution/CRC Propositions and An Act to Amend Title 21 of the Liberian Code of Laws of 1956 to update the Provisions of the Maritime Law and Maritime Regulations to implement the Maritime Labor Convention, 2006 and Incorporating other necessary and appropriate Provisions relating to the name change of the Bureau of Maritime Affairs to the Liberia Maritime Authority including edits that were inadvertently overlooked in previous years of the codification of the Maritime Laws and Regulations.
Among the 13 prioritized bills, Sen. Sherman said the Land Rights Act would not be possible for his Judiciary Committee to report, adding, “there should be no urgency in passing of bills.”
The Grand Cape Mount County Senator has informed the Daily Observer of withdrawing his interest in the candidacy to contest the post of the President Pro Tempore. He withdrew from the race, “because Vice President Joseph N. Boakai was defeated in his presidential bid.”
Sherman also said he would only pledge his support secretly to any of the two Senators, Albert Chie and Steve Zargo, because Senator Geraldine Doe-Sheriff has also withdrawn from the Pro Temp race.