Senator Jewel Howard Taylor (Bong Co.) has submitted a bill to the Senate requesting that the Legislature be granted financial autonomy like the Executive and Judiciary branches of the government.
In a June 23 letter accompanying the bill, referred to as “Financial Autonomy Act of the Legislature”, Senator Taylor noted that except for the National Legislature, the other two branches of government, the Executive and the Judiciary, exercise financial autonomy thus experiencing leverage, latitude and decisiveness in decision making and program implementation.
“The Legislative Branch finds it difficult to function efficiently under the present financial administrative arrangement wherein the Executive Branch administers the budget and the processing of financial documents of the Legislative Branch, thereby subjecting the Legislative Branch to bureaucratic process which impedes its smooth administration,” the outspoken Bong County lawmaker declared.
When passed into law, as it is highly expected, the Act will grant the Legislature financial autonomy in the management and processing of all documents relating to the administration of its budget, subject to compliance with the allotment process of the Ministry of Finance; with all provisions of the Public Procurement and Concessions Act of 2005, and with internationally accepted accounting principles and procedures; as well as the laws and procedures of the General Auditing Commission relating to submission to audit in a statutory period.
According to the draft Act, each House of the Legislature shall maintain a finance section headed by a Director of Finance who, in consultation with the Head of the Secretariat of the respective House, shall have overall responsibility for professional and administration of the budget of the
House for which said Director of Finance is employed.
The Director of Finance of each House, after passage of the National Budget and in consultation with the Head of the Secretariat of the respective House, “shall adopt a system of sound financial management policies in conformity with financial regulations of the Government… and guidelines of the Bureau of the Budget to ensure prudent and efficient management of funds allotted for operation of the House concerned and the Legislature in general.
“In furtherance of this Act, each House of the Legislature shall establish a current operating account in its name at a local bank into which the House concerned shall disburse its funds in keeping with normal banking regulations and procedures; while the authorized signatures on the account of each House shall be the Director of Finance as first principal authorizer (A), or in the stead, the Secretary of the Senate as alternate substitute authorizers; while in the House of Representatives, the Director of Finance of the House as first principal authorizer, or in the stead, Chief
Clerk of the House as alternate substitute authorized.”
The second principal authorizer (B) for the Senate is the President Pro Tempore, or in the stead, the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Rules and Order as substitute authorizer; while for the House of Representatives, the Speaker will serve as the second principal authorizer, or in the stead, the Chairman of the House Standing Committee on Rules and Order as second substitute authorizer.
A motion by Senator J. Milton Teahjay (Sinoe Co.) for an immediate passage of the bill was however differed, and a majority vote sent it to a three-member Ad Hoc Committee chaired by Senator Joseph N. Nagbe and included Senators Jonathan Kaipay (Grand Bassa) and Jewel Howard Taylor, with the mandate to report to plenary on Thursday, June 30.