Major Setback for Code of Conduct

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The House of Representatives has reluctantly passed the controversial Code of Conduct, but with several amendments.

The Code of Conduct is an instrument intended to govern the attitude and behavior of all public officials in and outside of the work environment.

The House on Thursday, March 6, agreed to act on the proposed legislation, setting a new timeline for all officials of government with political ambitions to resign their respective offices, “three years” prior to election.

It also consented to eliminate Section 1.3.10, 11 of the bill that speaks of Casual Gifts:

“Any present or gift, unsolicited and of a modest scale given to a public official or employee of government which is not connected to his or her official duties or given during seasonal celebrations which does not exceed US$200.00 in value. This provision shall not apply to gifts given during cultural and customary celebrations. 11. Token gifts: Include souvenirs, mementos (keepsakes) or symbolic items given to a public official or employee of government which does not exceed US$250.00 in value,” said gift (s) must be rejected or turnover to government by the official involved.

But not all of the amendments submitted by the House were included in the version passed by the Senate, which then blocked the passage of the Code of Conduct.

According to legislative proceedings, when two different versions of a particular Bill are presented by the two bodies, a conference committee comprising members of the two houses is set up to discuss and agree on the way forward. The Bill can then be corrected and sent to the President for her signature. Beyond that point, the Bill proceeds to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to be printed into handbills and then published.

Political commentators believe the amended passage by the House was “cosmetic and intended to buy public sympathy after being tongue-lashed for making several amendments to the Central Bank of Liberia Act,” a move described as self-serving, which has sparked serious debate in the country.

Speaking to the Daily Observer, our analysts described the latest action by the House as a clever attempt to “downplay” the proposed legislation in order to keep it languishing in the corridors of Capitol Building for many years.

“Our argument is supported by a similar move against the Decent Work Bill, which is now in the archives of the Capitol Building. Setting a different version of the bill shows the little-or-no interest Capitol Hill has in shaping the destiny of our country,” they asserted.

Code of Conduct Bill

 

Other provisions of the bill include, but are not limited to Session 3.1: “All public officials and employees of government in the course of their official duties shall take decisions solely in the interest of the public good.” Session 3.5 Accountability: All public officials and employees of government shall be held personally responsible and liable, for his or her own acts of commission or omissions, done either mistakenly or deliberately; or which evidence gross negligence or result in substantial damage or injury to the government and/or against the public interest. All public officials and employees of government shall obey all lawful instructions issued to him or her by their supervisors and shall decline to obey orders he or she knows or ought to know to be wrong or unlawful.”

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