Key members of the Liberian House of Representatives and Senate have assured the Governance Commission of their commitment to ensuring the passage of the Code of Conduct Bill into law.
At a one-day conference on Friday, February 7, organized by the National Integrity Forum (NIF) held in Monrovia to support the passage of the code of conduct bill into law, Senator Jewel Howard Taylor of Bong County, promised to lobby with colleagues to ensure the Code of Conduct Bill is passed into law.
According to Sen. Taylor, the bill would ensure that civil servants adhere to their responsibilities as charged by public office in the country. She explained the Code of Conduct Bill could be used as an instrument for fairness and creating a new code for government officials. The Senator also used the occasion to call on other legislators to see the bill as a comprehensive and applicable bill that could be used to address other issues like the position of civil service in politics as well as situations of conflict likely to impair government officials during the performance of their duties.
Also speaking at the forum was Representative Alex Tyler, Speaker of the House of Representatives. Rep. Tyler expressed his commitment to the Governance Commission and related institutions as a proponent for passing the Code of Conduct Bill into law. He said the National Code of Conduct could help protect the rich, poor, educated, and uneducated in the country, stating that if nothing is done, history would judge the 53rd Legislature of Liberia harshly.
The Chairman of the House’s Committee on Governance and Government Reform, Rep. Acarous M. Gray, also pledged his support in ensuring the Code of Conduct Bill is passed into law. Gray used the opportunity to highlight several areas in the bill he felt were debatable. He focused on a part of the bill saying those eligible for election to the House of Representatives should resign from previous posts a year before election. Mr. Gray expressed the opinion that potential candidates should resign from other posts two years before they could be acknowledged. According to the Code of Conduct, all appointed officials “shall not engage in political activities during working hours or use government facilities, equipment, and resources in support of other political aspirations.”
The National Code of Conduct Bill is intended to be comprehensive and applicable to all branches of government and officials therein that would allow them to declare any private property or personal activity that could present conflicts of interest. The Code of Conduct Bill, if passed into law, would ensure that public officials be admonished to hire and promote employees based on merit rather than on the issue of political favoritism. It is not yet clear whether or not significant amendments would be made to the bill and when it is expected to be passed.