Legislature to ‘Rush’ Amending Mining, Fisheries, Forestry Laws

House Speaker Bhofal Chambers, Deputy Speaker Prince Moye and Chairman on Judiciary, Cllr. J. Fonati Koffa

… to Repair Economy

As the the House of Representatives begins its third Session today, January 13, it is expected to commence with a tense discussion on rewriting laws on forestry, mining and fisheries, in a bid to rescue the bad economy.

At this time around, the head of Political Affairs and Communications in the office of Speaker Chambers, George Watkins, quoting the Speaker, told the Daily Observer exclusively via telephone that the House of Representatives will pursue the agenda for the rest of the 3rd Session, which runs from January 13 to August 31, 2020, to facilitate the smooth operations of the government.

There are reports that the Legislature might rush amending laws which are geared towards the enhancement of the socio-economic interests of the State and its people.

Mr. Watkins said Speaker Chambers in his Monday’s statement will persuade his colleagues to rewrite laws on forestry, mining and fisheries to impact the economy; some of which are included in the ‘Matrix of Priority Bills’ submitted by President George M. Weah in the 2nd Session of 2019.

Watkins indicated that the Speaker will communicate the championing and fostering of peace between and among lawmakers, and continue his collaboration with the Senate to concur with rewritten laws that would improve the economy.

He pointed out that the Speaker will also include in his Monday speech the engagement with the international community in building trust and confidence to dispel the sentiments of incompetence about the government in the public space.

He, however, rubbished rumors in the corridors of the Capitol that some like-minded Representatives are planning to oust the Speaker, of which he clarified that less than six unhappy Representatives cannot remove a Speaker constitutionally.

Meanwhile, there are reports that the 16-member specialized committee that was constituted in 2019 to ascertain compliance of concession companies is expected to begin visits to companies across the country to determine whether or not those companies are abiding by ratified agreements signed between them and the government of Libeiria, either under he administration of former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, or that of President George Weah.

The committee headed by Lofa County District #3 Representative, Clarence Massaquoi, was established to curb “suspected discrepancies between the agreements and the existing realities.”

As another means of helping to revamp the economy, the President has submitted some bills known as the ‘President’s Priority Bills’, which include an Act to Establish the Civil Service Commission; the Whistle Blower and Witness Protection Bill, and the eight revised propositions for referendum to amend the 1986 Constitution.

It may be recalled that the President, during a session of interactions with lawmakers said the laws of the country including the Constitution have been overtaken by time and circumstances, and was suggesting that it is about time to have a review of the Constitution.

“You can recall that the previous Constitution Review process was initiated by my predecessor, Madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf in 2012, and she appointed a six-member Constitution Review Committee, the CRC, with a specific mandate including reviewing the Constitution and identifying all provisions to determine whether or not they require amendments and to  propose such amendments,” President Weah said.

The President added: “The CRC completed its work and submitted its report to the then President, Madam Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, who subsequently forwarded the Committee’s 25 propositions to the Legislature.”

The President further said: “The unfinished work of the CRC had to devolve on the Law Reform Commission which has a general mandate to keep under review all laws of the Republic.”

The President pointed out that the Law Reform Commission has since embarked upon series of consultations with members of Legislature beginning with your predecessors, the 53rd Legislature, and continues with this 54th Legislature.

He indicated that consultations have also been held with civil society groups, professionals, laymen as well as chiefs and prominent persons in society. While these consultations may have been useful and promising, the constitution review process is still opting for the necessary approval of the Legislature in order to advance it to the referendum stage, which might be elusive if nothing is done immediately.

“It is for this purpose that I have invited you here to act upon the propositions for referendum,” the President said.


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