Senate Concurs with House on 2020/2021 National Budget

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Retiring Senator G. Alphonso Gaye receives a certificate of honor from Senate Pro Tempore Albert Chie, as Senator Nyonblee Karnga- Lawrence looks on.

Reduces APM Terminals’ Contempt Sanction to Community Service, honors Sen. Gaye

The Liberian Senate, on its last day of sitting yesterday, October 14, unanimously voted to concur with the House of Representatives to pass the 2020/2021 National Budget in the amount of US$570,101,173.00.

The Senate’s decision followed a report by its Committee on Ways, Means, Finance, and Budget. The committee’s report, which is in line with the one submitted by the House of Representatives a few days ago for concurrence, called on Senators to pass the budget in the amount of US$570,101,173.00 after identifying an additional source of revenue in the amount of US$34,659,000 from other government revenue-generating entities.

Previously, the draft submitted by the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning was in the amount of US$535,452,173.00, but the lawmakers in their wisdom increased it by US$34,659,000.

“From the revenue hearing exercise, the total revenue of US$34,659,000 was identified from revenue-generating entities as additional revenue to be added to the draft budget,” the committee report said.

The Senate Committee further noted that “The fiscal measures introduced to guide the expenditure process in certain counties were crucially scrutinized, as well as revision of the road fund.

The Senate’s passage of the fiscal budget, which happened on the last day sitting of the 3rd Session of the 54th Legislature, also held an unprecedented ceremony honoring an outgoing colleague, Grand Gedeh County Senator G. Alphonso Gaye, who has decided to retire after nine years of service to his county and country.

The outspoken lawmaker from the Unity Party, in a moving speech during the ceremony in the Senate Annex Chambers, spoke of the enormous challenges facing the Senate and, as such, emphasized the need for appointments at the helm of committees to be based on the education and the professional competence of individuals.

“Let me not bother your minds to emphasize the importance of this institution, the Liberian Senate; the challenges are enormous and, as such, setting up leadership and constituting working committees should not be based on who voted for or who voted against; rather, it should be based on education and professional competence of individuals,” Senator Gaye intimated.

The outgoing Senator recalled that over the years many Senators have had difficulties in meeting up with their oversight responsibilities “Because committees were constituted based on who voted for and who voted against. “Let us muster the courage henceforth to choose committee heads in line with the suitability of the individual to head a particular committee.”

Senator Gaye, whose term officially ends in the second week in January 2021, is the third Senator in post-war Liberia history to retire honorably.

The other two are former Senate Pro-tempore Cletus S. Wortorson and the late River Gee County Senator Frederick Cherue. Both declined to participate in the 2014 Special Senatorial Elections after serving one term.

Also, yesterday, Grand Bassa County Senator, Jonathan Kaipay, was certificated to replace Nimba County political godfather, Senator Prince Yormie Johnson, as the Senate and Liberia’s representative to the ECOWAS Parliament. Senator Johnson recently announced retirement from making a representation at the regional Parliament to pay more attention to his work at the Senate, especially fulfilling projects he is currently undertaking in his native county.

In a related development, Senate Pro-tempore, Albert Chie, yesterday announced a less harsh sanction against the management of the APM Terminals on contempt charges, opting for community service at the William V. S. Tubman High School in Sinkor.

The Senate’s decision is due to the recent action by the management of APM Terminals to shun the Senate Committee on Labor’s investigation into an alleged bad labor practice at the company’s facilities. The leadership of the Senate, according to Pro-Temp Chie, will announce details of the community service in the next few days.

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