After three deferments, the Senate is expected to start debates on a report by the Joint Committee on Banking and Currency; Ways, Means, Finance and Budget; Judiciary; Claims and Petition; and Commerce, Trade and Industry, on the state of the economy today.
The joint committee was recently mandated to review a letter from Senators Nyonblee Karnga-Lawrence of Grand Bassa, Morris G. Saytumah of Bomi, and Armah Zolu Jallah of Gbarpolu counties, in which they expressed concerns over the current decline of the country’s economy and made a seven-point recommendation.
The three lawmakers in their letter dated February 14 specifically called on the plenary of the Senate to mandate its Committee on Ways, Means, Finance and Budget and the Ministry of Finance to immediately begin an extensive review of expenditure with the goal to streamline it to meet important national development targets.
The committee returned a week later with a report in compliance with plenary’s mandate, but requested for an additional week to present its final report on March 7 after meeting with relevant stakeholders through hearings.
Since then, the discussion has been postponed on three occasions, the last being on Thursday, which was due to a power failure at the Capitol Building.
The joint committee recommended that fair shares of the allowances of government employees in foreign exchange must be paid in Liberian dollars; that all government agencies must be mandated to submit their annual budget performance reports to the Legislature; and that the Liberia Revenue Authority (LRA) should not determine tax payment by daily rates, but by a weekly or monthly rate.
But hours before today’s debate, one of the three authors of the letter which spurred the debate, Senator Nyonblee Karnga-Lawrence, has requested a recall of the report and recommended to Senate Pro-tempore Jallah to ask the Senate to constitute itself into a committee for a new hearing.
“The authors and other people who are on the committee did not know about the hearing; we are talking about the economy, and they keep overlooking it. They (Joint Committee) did not touch any of those things we raised in our letter, so I don’t know what was discussed in the hearing. As member of the Ways and Means Committee, I did not know about it so I am recommending that the plenary votes and constitutes itself into a committee for an open hearing,” the outspoken Grand Bassa lawmaker said.
“I am very disappointed in the committee’s report even though it has not been discussed, but it must be recalled.”