The office of the President Pro Tempore of the Senate has described as “behind the desk fiction” an article published in a local daily on Monday, October 19, titled: ‘Pro-Temp’s Hypocrisy Exposed.’
In an interview with the Daily Observer at the Capitol Building yesterday, Senator Armah Jallah’s spokesperson asserted that “while the office of the Gbarpolu County lawmaker respects the independence of the media in carving sensational headlines for stories, we seriously question the editorial judgment of the reporter who, in his attempt to dissect the budget of the Pro-Temp, maliciously and with a pre-conceived motive, decided to inject personal emotion into the facts and circumstances characterizing the budget.”
The office clarified that the Pro-Temp does not allot unto himself figures reflected in the national budget, but rather the budgetary process begins with the Executive, while the Legislature does due diligence in keeping with the separation of powers in government.
“Figures allotted to various government functionaries, including the office of the Pro-Temp are done based on the assessed needs of those functionaries and not merely on the basis of having excess to party with,” the office noted.
The office said it was reminding both the reporter of Monday’s article and the newspaper that references made by the Pro-Temp to impact national budget on the majority of the population was predicated on the overall size of the budget envelope.
“We believe the paper’s attempt to attribute the suffering of the masses to just the Pro-Temp’s budgetary allotment is frustrating. There is nothing hypocritical about identifying the shortcomings of the budget to addressing the critical needs of the people,” the Pro-Temp office asserted.
It further clarified that “besides, monies allocated in the Pro-Temp’s budget are not entirely for personal benefits but rather to effectively carry out the duties and functions with which the Liberian people entrusted him.”
The office disclosed that the amount of US$500,000 was inserted in the Pro-Temp’s budget solely for the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), and not for use by the Pro-Temp’s office.
Since taking over the mantle of authority at the Senate, the office of Senator Jallah said he has taken practical actions to address the plight of citizens, including staffers of the Senate as acknowledged by the reporter of the story.
“As part of the steps, the Pro-temp ensured that US$100,000 was allotted to augment the salaries of staffers. Also, several staffers of the Senate have benefitted from opportunities to pursue higher education both locally and internationally, and unprecedentedly, staffers of the Senate recently received in full, all benefits for the extraordinary sitting of the Legislature.”
Besides, the office said the Gbarpolu County lawmaker has personally contributed to humanity by making several donations to hospitals, schools and disaster stricken people.
“We therefore encourage the newspaper (under question) to transcend the traditional militia journalism and publish facts rather than behind the desk fiction,” his office said.