President George M. Weah has literally begged the 54th Legislature on Saturday, August 17, to pass (act upon or ratify) 29 “priority” bills before they adjourn the 2nd Sitting of the Legislature on Friday, August 30, 2019.
The Legislature adjourns session (works) annually on the 30th of August for ‘Constituency or Agricultural Break’ and resumes work the following year, on the 2nd working Monday in January.
The President began imploring the Legislature during the two-day Presidential-Legislative Retreat, held at a resort in Margibi County from Friday, August 16 – Saturday, August 17.
During the national conversation on tenure, economy and the general state affairs, he distributed a ‘Matrix of 29 Bills’ with the appeal to also approve eight revised propositions for referendum to amend the 1986 Constitution.
He stressed that the ‘Priority Bills’ are some of the unresolved key matters of national interest that require the urgent attention of the 54th Legislature, geared toward the enhancement of the socio-economic interests of the State and its people. Among these, he noted, are financial agreements from which Liberia stands to lose US$40 million in this fiscal year, if nothing is done.
However, cognizant of the shortage of time to discuss these key matters (bills) to facilitate the smooth operations of the government, there are unconfirmed reports that the Legislature may either extend the 2nd Sitting by themselves for two weeks, September 1 – 15, or the President might request an extension of the 2nd Sitting of the 54th Legislature for 30 days, covering the month of September.
Article 32 (b) of the 1986 Constitution of the Republic of Liberia provides that the President shall, on the President’s own initiative or upon receipt of a certificate signed by at least one-fourth of the total membership of each House, and by proclamation, extend a Regular Session of the Legislature beyond the date of adjournment or call a Special or Extraordinary Session of that Body to discuss or act upon matters of national emergency and concern.
“We have concluded the purpose of this retreat. I want to urge members of the Legislature to use their ingenuity to their disposals to do the works of the Liberian people,” the President said.
Prior to the adjournment of the retreat and closing remarks from the President, the Legal Advisor to the President, Cllr. Archibald Bernard, made the presentation, and River Gee County District #3 Representative Francis said there are impediments and causes of House’s Committees lacking efficiency during which he was called order by colleagues, but President Weah urged him to explain the impediments.
President Pro Tempore of the Senate, Albert Chie, thanked President Weah for the retreat and said they acknowledge receipt of the 29 priority bills and will act upon most of them.
On behalf of the House of Representatives, Speaker Bhofal Chambers said they would be judicious in passing the bills.
29 Prioritized Bills
The 29 prioritized bills, in which the President wants to be passed include: An Act to Establish the Liberia Standards Authority; the World Trade Organization Trade Facilitation Agreement; United Nations Convention against illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic substances, 1988; Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs (as amended by 1972 Protocol amending the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, 1961); Convention on Psychotropic Substances, 1971; an Act to Establish the Civil Service Commission; Agreement on Investment between the Government of the Republic of Liberia and the Government of the Kingdom of Morocco; and the Bilateral Investment Treaty between the United Arab Emirates and the Republic of Liberia.
Others are the Agreement between the Government of the United Arab Emirates and the Government of the Republic o Liberia for the Avoidance of Double Taxation and the Prevention of fiscal evasion with respect to taxes on income; Financing Agreement – Tree Crops Extension Project II (TCEP II) between the Republic of Liberia and International Fund for Agricultural Development; Loan Agreement – Upgrading of the Konia – Voinjama Road Project between the Republic of Liberia and Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development; An Act to amend the Penal Law Chapter 15, by Adding Thereto a New Section 15.88 to Provide for Power Theft; and An act to Endorse the National Youth Policy of Liberia, An Agenda for Action.
Also submitted by President George M. Weah include An Act to Amend Part III, Section 15.2 (a) of An Act to Repeal the Act incorporating the Liberian National Lotteries Corporation of 1993 and to enact in Lieu Thereof the National Lottery Authority Act to conduct, manage, regulate and supervise National Lotteries, Lotto and Games of Chance; An Act to Amend the Revenue Code of Liberia, Phase one of the Reform Tax Code of Liberia 2000, as amended by the Consolidated Tax Amendments Act of 2011 to adopt a Modernized Customs Code (2017); International Convention on the Simplification and Harmonization of Customs Procedures (as amended, known as the revised Kyoto Convention(KRC)); ECOWAS Customs Code and An Act Prohibiting the Tenure of Public Officials within the Executive Branch of Government.
The remaining priority bills were submitted by former President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, they are: The Revised and Restated Charter of the University of Liberia; An Act to Amend Title 25, Patriotic Cultural Observance Law, Chapter 3, Recognition of Distinguished Service, by adding thereto a new Subsection 64 to be known as the “The Order of the Republic”; The President Transition Act, 2017; The Whistle Blower and Witness Protection Bill; The International Solar Alliance (ISA) Framework Agreement; Amendment and Restatement of the Public Financial Management Act of 2009 and the Bill to Amend Section 6.1(5) of the Aliens and Nationality Law of Liberia, Title 4, Liberian code of Laws Revised, regarding Permits of Residence