The Senate on Thursday, February 13 voted unanimously to pass a bill that will deny current executives of the Central Bank of Liberia (CBL) the right to run for elective office for three years if the House of Representatives concurs.
The bill, which is an amendment to the Act that authorized the establishment of the CBL on March 18, 1989, declared that:
"The Executive Governor of the Central Bank of Liberia and members of the Board of Governors shall be prohibited from contesting political office(s) while serving in their respective offices and shall not be qualified to contest any electable office within three years consecutively after the expriation of their tenure and in his/her resignation from the Central Bank of Liberia."
The Senate at its 9th day of sitting in a dark Chamber (for lack of electricity), further punished the CBL by reducing its authority regarding the printing and minting of coins.
The Senate amended the functions of the CBL, which had granted it the authority to "issue legal tender and banknotes and coins" to now read as follows:
"The CBL will supply legal tender and bank notes and coins."
The Senate further agreed that Part IV, Section 13, which deals with the resignation or removal of Governors, Executive Governors and Deputy Governors, was amended to give more authority to the Legislature.
According to the new bill, "The Legislature shall determine whether or not an impeachable offense has been committed by the Executive Governor or a member of the Board of Governors of the CBL. Where such a determination has been made, the Legislature shall take the necessary action of impeachment in keeping with the relevant provisions of the Constitution of the Republic of Liberia."
Sponsored during the 2nd session of the 53rd Legislature by Senators Armah Jallah, Sumo Kupee and Peter Sonpon Coleman, the bill did not affect the current assistance given to small and medium-sized enterprises, which is popular with Liberians in the leeward counties.
Senator Jallah told Legislative reporters that the SEnate's decision is void of any political undertones, but that the Legislature was only trying to correct a mistake it made years before by relegating some of its functions to the CBL.
He was reacting to suggestions that those with political ambitions at the highest level might have seen CBL Governor Mills Jones as a potential threat to Legislators with presidential ambitions.
The House of Representatives is expected to fully concur with the Senate on this bill. Members of the House had originally called for a one-year restriction. The Senate has called for three.
It is also noteworthy that the bill targets only CBL officials and does not apply across the board to other officials of government such as cabinet ministers, ambassadors and heads of agency, for example.