A local civil society group, Institute for Research and Democratic Development (IREDD) has released its first quarter Legislative Performance Report on lawmakers in the 54th Legislature.
The report aims to provide citizens with accurate, objective, and comprehensive information about the performances of their elected leaders using indicators drawn from their primary constitutional mandate (lawmaking, oversight and representation). With support from partners, IREDD over the years has been monitoring the work of the legislature and individual lawmakers on Capitol Hill.
The report, according to IREDD, covered the period of January 15 to March 19, 2019. It also provides some analysis on the overall governance of the legislature, and the effectiveness of legislative committees.
Although, much legislative work are conducted in committee rooms, where bills are reviewed and amended, budgetary decisions are made and important oversight duties are performed, the report described as ineffective the House of Representatives in responding to critical national issues.
The report named former Deputy House Speaker, Grand Bassa District #1 Representative Hans Barchue, as one of the poorly performed lawmakers due to his constant absence from sessions.
Although Rep. Barchue is yet to respond to the report, IREDD also branded members of the House of Representatives as being ineffective in responding to critical national issues; and failed to pass decision on three critical communications written by Representatives Francis Dopoh, Dixon Seboe, and Ben Fofana.
According to the IREDD report, Representative Dopoh, in his communication, requested the appearance of the Minister of Finance and Development Planning and Liberia Revenue Authority Commissioner-General to discuss the performance of the last two fiscal quarters of the current national budget.
Representative Seboe, the report added, similarly communicated to the House plenary, craving the appearance of the ministers of Commerce and Finance and Development Planning to frankly discuss on strategy to move the economy from eight-hour to 12th-hour or 1-hour.
Representative Fofana also requested that the Minister of Finance and Development Planning and his deputies be invited to provide reason why counties have not received their respective Social Development Funds, and other remittances since the passage of the 2018/2019 fiscal budget, the report said.
IREDD said since the relevant committees were asked to probe the matters, and report in two weeks, the committees are yet to so up to press time last night.
IREDD’s Executive Director, Herald Aidoo, who read the 11-page report said his organization’s also recorded performance of individual lawmakers and individual senator.
Aidoo said seven members of the House of Representatives recorded the highest presence in session, scoring 100 percent. The lawmakers are Kanie Wesso of Gbarpolu; Matthew Joe of Grand Bassa; Speaker Bhofal Chambers of Maryland; Matthew Zarzar of Sinoe County; Ivar Jones of Margibi; Samuel Kogar of Nimba and Dr. George Boley of Grand Gedeh counties.
Meanwhile, IREDD said Representatives Vincent Willie of Grand Bassa, and Hans Barchue of Grand Bassa County, Bob Sheriff of Grand Cape Mount, and Zoe Penue of Grand Gedeh got lowest attendance grades in plenary.
At the Senate, five senators obtained the highest attendance grades during the period under review, scoring 100 percent. They are Albert Chie of Grand Kru, Gbleh-Bo Brown of Maryland, Dr. Henrique Tokpa of Bong, Morris Saytumah of Bomi and Augustine Chea of Sinoe.
On the contrary, the report said Senator Edward Dagoseh obtained the lowest grade by scoring 38.2 percent, even though he was battling illness.
IREDD has meanwhile recommended that the leadership of the Legislature should demand for efficiency and productivity from legislative committees members.
“If possible, the leaderships of those committees, including the Standing Committees, should be restructured to reflect the level of knowledge, effectiveness and willingness of committee members to execute their respective assigned tasks,” the report said.
The report said Legislature should make sure that quarterly performance reports by government ministries and agencies benefiting from national budget are produced. “This is upheld by the state’s budget law, which is a product of every legislature around the world. This will help the public cross-check the level of accountability and transparency measures used by public officials in handling taxpayers’ money,” Aidoo said.
IREDD said members of the 54th Legislature should also review its standing rules on secret sessions while making legislative deliberations, particularly the workings of the Committees.
Furthermore, they should review their standing rules on attendance so as to penalize individual lawmakers, who are suspected of being in the constant habit of leaving session after roll call, and those that continued to gain strength in lateness.
The entity recommended that the leadership of the House of Representatives and Senate should take steps to improve the level of transparency and openness in decision making process.
Particularly, IREDD calls for the adherence of legislative rules on record of the vote to improve transparency in vote-taking on legislation and national decisions.