As reported by the Daily Observer two weeks earlier, President George Weah has written the Legislature, asking that body to return to Capitol Building so as to handle “very important legislation.”
Deputy Press Secretary Smith Toby confirmed that the President on Monday, November 4, 2019, forwarded the communication to the lawmakers to sit for another two weeks starting November 18, 2019. However, Mr. Toby did not elaborate on what legislation the President will submit to the lawmakers upon their return.
But the expected paramount reason for the senators’ return is the printing of new banknotes, as well as a communication from President George Weah requesting the Senate to authorize Public Works Ministry to enter into a contractual arrangement with the East International Group Incorporated, to carry out reconstruction of a 44 kilometers stretch of road on the Robert International Airport/Monrovia highway.
On the eve of the last days of their extended “annual break,” the senators received a communication from President Weah, “seeking the indulgence, approbation and acquiescence of the Senate to authorize the Ministry of Public Works to enter into a contractual arrangement with the East International Group Incorporated to carry out reconstruction of a 44 kilometers stretch of road on the Roberts International Airport highway.”
But in a motion, Grand Bassa County Senator Nyonblee Karnga-Lawrence, said that “Knowing that the request is not within the role of the Senate, I move that the communication be sent back to the Leadership of the Senate, so that a proper decision can be made with the leadership of the Senate for consultation and that the communication be returned to the Executive for proper direction.”
Following that motion, Pro Tempore Albert T. Chie immediately announced the Senate leadership seizure of the motion.
In his communication to the Senate, dated Monday, October 4, 2019, President Weah recalled the September 2017 Senate’s ratification of a pre-financing agreement between the government of Liberia and East International Group Incorporated for the pavement of a total of 65.5 kilometers of roads.
It can also be recalled that during its extraordinary session, President Weah, based on what he said was an advise from the Central Bank of Liberia, in September wrote the Liberian Senate, through the Legislature, to authorize the printing of new local currency to replace the current one.
In his communication, President Weah informed the Senators that he was in receipt of a communication from the Central Bank of Liberia, advising that the Liberian economy may be seriously affected, due to the unaccounted local currency infused into the economy that is causing high inflation; he has recommended the printing of new local currency to replace existing ones.
The Senate’s own committee on Banking and Currency, in a surprise move, recommended plenary to authorize the printing of the requested new banknotes in the amount of LS$35 billion, in the denominations of banknotes L$20, L$50, L$100, L$500, L$1000 and coins in the denominations of L$1, L$5, and L$10 as proposed by the Central Bank of Liberia.
Meanwhile, the Senate’s expected return coincides with recent appointments in government by President Weah, with some of the appointees in need of confirmation by the Senate; and also the resignation finally of the Executive Governor of the Central Bank of Liberia, Nathaniel Patray.
Neither confirming nor denying their possible return, Senate Pro Tempore Albert Tugbe Chie, in a recent press conference, told journalists that “I don’t know yet whether we will return in November, because there were issues with donors authorization, so the Senate declined to give that authorization, because we felt that the Central Bank of Liberia has to be restructured; and as we speak, since our closure till today, I have not seen any movement in that direction,” Pro Tempore Chie told Legislative reporters recently.
“So I am not aware that we will come back, it may happen next week, maybe things will change, but so far to my knowledge, I hear the same rumors that you continue to hear; but I have not seen any movement, no, not to my knowledge; it’s possible, but as we speak I don’t have that information.”