— Pres Weah’s FY2019/2020 recast budget, funding for NEC operations held up
The apparent unexcused failure of some twenty-six Senators to attend session Thursday, March 5, 2020, caused the Senate plenary, comprising fourteen (14) Senators in attendance, to unceremoniously adjourn their 15th day sitting, for lack of a quorum.
The decision of the Senate, which was firstly presided over by Pro Tempore Albert T. Chie and later by Senate chair on Executive, Saah Joseph, came about when a roll-call requested by Montserrado County Senator Abraham Darius Dillon failed to produce the necessary two-thirds needed as a quorum for normal Legislative sitting.
Instead of the two-thirds (being 20 Senators) needed to start the season, only 14 Senators were present, as per the roll call conducted by a stenographer from the Senate Secretariat, coupled with an unofficial one done by our Legislative reporter.
According to sources close to the Senate’s leadership, yesterday’s sitting was scheduled to start at 12:00 p.m., but those few Senators who had made early appearance had to wait up to 12:30 pm, before the roll call was requested and subsequently conducted.
The list of Senators present for yesterday’s failed sitting as shown by the unofficial daily roll call done by our reporter, showed that Senator Dillon was first to be seated, beating Bong County Senator Dr. Henrique Tokpa’s record of first seated in recent months, by a few minutes.
Other Senators in sequence of appearance include: Senators Saah Joseph, Montserrado County; Francis Saturday Paye, River Cess County; J. Gbleh-bo Brown, Maryland County; G. Alphonso Gaye, Grand Gedeh County; and J. Milton Teahjay, Sinoe County.
Also present were Senators: Victor Varney Watson, Grand Cape Mount County; Morris Saytumah, Bomi County; and Cllr H. Varney Sherman, Grand Cape Mount County, who was the 10th Senator present during the roll call.
Three other Senators who later appeared that constituted fourteen Senators, (including Pro Temp), were; Thomas Grupee, Nimba County; Daniel Flomo Naatehn, Gbarpolu County; and Oscar A. Cooper, Margibi County.
Senators Stephen Zargo of Lofa County, and Conmany B. Wesseh of River Gee, who had reportedly gone to attend the Coalition of Political Parties (CPP) Women Movement Celebration of International Women’s Day program in Congo Town, were later seen entering the Senate’s Annex Chambers. But by then, the Presiding Officer Senator Joseph had already called for adjournment for lack of a quorum.
Yesterday’s lack of a quorum could not have been more ill-timed, since Senators were expected to grill Finance and Development Planning Minister Samuel D. Tweah, Jr., for his reported failure to provide funding for the fast-approaching midterm Senatorial Elections scheduled for October this year.
Minister Tweah was cited to appear before the Senate plenary last week Thursday, February 27, but appealed to be excused as he was attending to “ongoing critical engagements” beyond his control that hindered him honoring that important appointment.
Minister Tweah then appealed to plenary to reschedule his appearance for the following Thursday, March 5, 2020, (yesterday) which was unanimously accepted.
Political commentators who spoke to our reporter on condition of anonymity, wondered whether the Senators’ decision not to attend session and resolve such a very important Constitutional issue as elections, was not deliberate.
Another important issue that was expected to be on yesterday’s agenda was an unread communication from President George Manneh Weah, submitting the recast budget for FY2019/2020.
Yesterday’s failed session is the first since the the 3rd Session of the 54th Senate was seated.