Takes a three-week ‘Independence Break’
The President Pro-Tempore of the Senate, Senator Albert Tugbe Chie, on Tuesday announced that senators will be away for three weeks to celebrate with their constituents the 171st Independence Anniversary. They will return to the Capitol Building on August 13.
On the eve of their departure during their 49th day sitting, the senators, as expected, confirmed the new Executive Governor of the Central Bank of Liberia (CBL), Nathaniel R. Patray.
Prior to Tuesday’s break, Senator Chie had announced that the senators will be going to their respective counties with some major and very crucial bills for what is expected to be final consultations with their people before eventual passage.
The bills are the Land Rights Act, the Local Government Act, proposed Amendment to the Constitution and the proposed Amendment to the Alien and Nationality Law, commonly known as Dual Citizenship Bill.
According to Senator Chie, the Senate intends to pass those Bills before their annual recess at the end of August.
Additionally, Chie said determination will be made on two other Bills that are with the Senate, including the Domestic Violence Bill and the Rape Law; “those two will be looked at as well.”
The newly dedicated annexes
As to who or how many senators will occupy the Senate section of the two annexes recently dedicated, Senator Chie said of the 30 Senators, only 20 will be accommodated, while 10 Senators will remain in the existing edifice.
“In order to ensure parity, we will recommend to Senate leadership that during our annual break from August to January, we will do some renovation work in the main edifice so that in January all the senators can have good working spaces; then those that have to move to the annex will do so at that time, and I hope the senators will give me that opportunity,” Chie said.
Senator Chie said the Senate was quite aware of the unfolding situation with the economy, and that body has been holding meetings with the Executive, especially the President and the Economic Management Team.
“We want to assure the public that we are working hard to make sure that the situation is brought under control. It is a fact that the problem started within the period immediately after the end of the Ebola virus disease outbreak in 2015, when the situation was a bit stable; by the end of 2015, it was L$90 to US$1.”
During that period,Senator Chie recalled that the Legislature granted approval to the CBL’s authorities upon their request to print new bills and from that point in 2016, the rate started depreciating.
“We are not saying that those new currency are the cause of the depreciation, but the Senate will do all within its power to make sure all of the sectors that are responsible, including unwholesome irregular acts, are investigated. Meanwhile, we are calling on our people to be patient and to join us to fight that threat as all of us joined to fight Ebola until it was defeated,” Chie said.
On the issue surrounding the Road Fund Act passed by the Legislature for levy in the amount of US$0.30 cents to be placed on every gallon of petroleum products imported into the country by importers for roads maintenance and construction, Senator Chie disclosed that investigation has shown that an outstanding amount for the last fiscal year is approximately US$25 million.
For this fiscal year, he said there is an outstanding amount of US$30 million which totals US$55 million. “If that money is collected, it will help to improve the economy and help to maintain our roads, especially roads leading to the Southeast. So we can not sit here while people are collecting the money and they know that that money should be remitted to the coffers of the government.”
In a very serious unprecedented mood, Senator Chie warned, “Let me assure everybody that within the very limited power conferred on us by the Constitution, we will make sure that anybody in the public sphere, the Executive, Legislative and Judiciary Branches that creates obstruction to collect that money will be punished.”