Lawmakers Blamed for Govt‘s ‘Poor Performance’

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The Institute for Research and Democratic Development (IREDD) has blamed the “poor performance” of the Unity Party-led government for the inefficiency of the Legislature in executing their legislative oversight responsibility.

IREDD is an internationally acclaimed Liberian-based research civil society group working with the National Legislature to improve democracy.

At the launch of IREDD’s  regular legislative score card yesterday in Monrovia, the research organization’s  Executive Director, Harold Aidoo, observed that “oversight weaknesses and the lack of transparency within the legislature accounts largely for the poor management of the state by the Executive.”

The civil society group noted that oversight committees at the Legislature lack the political will or fail to develop the needed capacities to ensure the quarterly scrutiny of oversight agencies’ budget performance consistent with the Public Financial Management (PFM) Law.

Even in the event that some scrutiny is initiated, IREDD maintained that the outcome is never well documented, neither is it made public.

“For example, a legislative concession monitoring committee was set up in 2011 and chaired by Representative Edwin Snowe and co-chaired by Representative Gabriel Smith to assess the extent to which concession holders are in compliance with the terms and provisions of their concessions. Our research reveals that to date, there is no report on the work of that committee. Over the last several years, the health sector has been the epi-center of routine demonstrations involving poor working facilities, inadequate incentives, lack of personnel and poor access to healthcare services. The Committee on Health took no concrete action to mitigate the situation. In addition, because legislators own businesses for which they also have oversight responsibilities, such conflict of interest compromises their oversight roles.

“For example, Speaker Alex Tyler and Representative Moses Kollie of Zorzor, Lofa County are both shareholders of ICC, a logging company, which has been awarded a Forest Management Contract in Grand Gedeh without the required capacity,” Aidoo declared.

Relative to lawmakers’ performance at the Capitol Building, Aidoo further pointed out, “our research recorded a total of 143 legislative instruments in committee rooms. Of this number of instruments gathering dust on the shelves of legislative committees, 76 or 55.24%  originated from the House of Representatives, 33 or 23.07% originated from the Senate, 26 or 18.18% came from the Executive, and eight or 5.5% came from other sources.

Further research showed that of the total bills pending (covering 2012-2014) in committee room, 73 or 54.48% comprised of new bills, 11 or 8.21% are petitions, twenty-two or 16.42% are amendments to old legislative instruments, one is the national budget of 2013/2014, and the rest are proposals five, joint resolutions two,  treaties/protocols (5) and convention/charter (8).

“The committees on Judiciary, Ways Means, and Finance and Education were found to be the committees which have the most congested dockets during the period.

Members of the House of   Representatives attended more sessions than those of the Senate, research revealed.

According to IREDD, Senators Fredrick Doe Cherue, UP, River Gee County and Mathew Jaye, UP, River Gee County, attended all the 48 sessions held in the Senate and got the score of A+.  Other senators with high plenary attendance include: Joseph Nagbe, APD, Sinoe County; Henry Yallah, NDC, Bong County; and Advertus D. Gueh LDP, Rivercess County.

“They all got ‘A’ in plenary attendance.

“Senator Mabutu Vlah Nyenpan, APD, Sinoe County got the lowest in plenary attendance. He attended 28 out of the 48 sessions held and got a score of “F”, IREDD said.

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