US$19M for Urban, Rural Infrastructure

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In the wake of the recent grilling of the Minister of Public Works by the National Legislature for her Ministry’s slow pace in road reconstruction, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has sent to the Senate for ratification a financial agreement for urban and rural infrastructure and rehabilitation projects.

President Sirleaf informed the Senate that the ratification instrument is the second additional package of financing for urban and rural infrastructure and rehabilitation projects between Liberia and the International Development Association.

“The objective of the project is to support government’s effort to improve road assess in the city of Monrovia and targeted road area as well as to improve the institutional capacities for the management of the roads sector. More specifically, the project involves among other things the rehabilitation of Monrovia City streets, construction of the Cotton Tree Bokay Town Road section; rehabilitation of the Vai Town Bridge and Gabriel Tucker Bridge convergence road intersection, and the construction of a new feeder loading facility in the Port of Monrovia.”

“This agreement,” according to President Sirleaf, “will also finance cost overrun incurred in the rehabilitation of the Monrovia-Buchanan corridor; help to rehabilitate other critical infrastructure including the construction of a new Caldwell Bridge in Monrovia, and will also finance the conceptual design studies of the Ganta to Zwedru Highway. This is the second additional financing for the URIRP project.”

According to the document, the credit is for US$12,800,000 special drawing rights, which is approximately US$19 million. “In view of the above and with the aim of improving our nation’s roads infrastructure, I ask for the ratification of this loan agreement.”

Maryland County Senator H. Dan Morias making first intervention following the reading of the communication said it was based on the receipt of a communication from the Lower House during the Senate’s last sitting where they (Representatives) raised issue of revenue Bills being submitted to them before the Senate can act upon it.

“I have a contrary view and my support is the fact that they have jurisdiction over such treaty as an international instrument is based on Article 34 of our Constitution under D, F: It states that the Legislature shall have the power to approve treaties, conventions and such other international agreements negotiated or signed on behalf of the Republic; I don’t think that gives us (Senate) the authority to deal with such issue without it being considered as revenue Bill.”

Sen. Morias recalled that prior to the writing of the present Constitution, the authority and privilege for ratification in the Republic of Liberia was given to the Liberian Senate; “so in view of this matter I want us to first discuss it whether it is in line with this Constitutional provision before attempting to ratify it (the document), because if we do we may have the same situation with the Lower House where they will again send it back and say that it is a revenue Bill and it shouldn’t start from us.”

Other learned Senators such as Isaac Nyenabo of Grand Gedeh County argued that the Bill, which is sponsored by Sinoe County Senator Mobutu Vlah Nyenpan, be first sent to a committee.

And in compliance with what he referred to as the Senate’s Rule 54, Senator Nyenabo proffered a motion that the ratification document be taken to the Committees on Ways, Means & Finance, Public Works, Judiciary and Foreign Affairs, with the mandate that the committees report to the plenary within one week.

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