–NPA, LPRC Update Senate on Petroleum Crisis
Yet another week of uncertainty over the possibility of timely midterm elections for fifteen Senators in October was pronounced yesterday when the Minister of Finance and Development Planning, Samuel D. Tweah, Jr., failed to honor Senate plenary’s citation to appear.
Minister Samuel Tweah was cited after the Chairman of the National Elections Commission (NEC) informed Senators last Tuesday that the “NEC has not received a dime” from the budget of US$17 million agreed on for the holding of the October 2020 Special Senatorial Election.
Appearing along with some of NEC Commissioners, Chairman Jerome Korkoya told the Senators that, as a matter of fact, the Commission was very seriously late with one of the most important aspects of any elections — the voters’ registration.
Cllr. Korkoya warned that if, by the 30th of May, the registration process is not completed and a credible roll established, the possibility of conducting the election by October will be seriously handicapped.
Giving reason for his failure through the Secretary of the Senate to honor the citation yesterday, Minister Tweah noted: “With compliments, I acknowledge receipt of your letter inviting me to appear before the plenary of the Liberian Senate to discuss funding for the 2020 Midterm Elections. While the hearing is slated for Thursday, February 27, 2020, at 3 o’clock pm, I regret to inform the august body through your good office, that ongoing critical engagements beyond my control hindered me honoring this important appointment…”
Minister Tweah then appealed to plenary to reschedule his appearance for next week Thursday, March 5, 2020, which was unanimously accepted.
Also yesterday, the Managing Directors of the National Port Authority and the Liberia Petroleum Refining Company, appeared before Senate plenary for the second time in one month to brief that body on the update on the shortage of gasoline on the Liberian market.
In a very brief update, LPRC Managing Director, Madam Marie Urey Coleman, said as of yesterday’s date her Corporation had received “a vessel on February 16, with a total of 7,500 metric tons of PMS gasoline; on that same day, an additional 10,000 metric tons of gasoline was offloaded by the same vessel; on yesterday, another 2,900 metric tons arrived for Total. This brings us to a total of 20,400 metric tons of gasoline PMS, and this product is expected to last for at least 48 days.”
Madam Coleman further disclosed that another vessel has been confirmed to berth between March 5 and 10 which, she said, also has 15,000 metric tons of gasoline. “At this point, the LPRC will like to assure this body that we are doing everything possible to make sure that the Liberian people and government are not embarrassed further with what just expired.”
For his part, NPA Managing Director, Bill Twehway, informed the Senators that the dredging process at the Freeport is ongoing, “and we intend to remove the debris that makes the depth of our port to be from ten meters and below to 13.5 meters. The process will end in about eight days.”
Meanwhile, the Senate has requested the two Managing Directors to put into writing their updates for the Senate’s secretariat as a reference.
Also, an Ad hoc committee is to be set up by the Senate to receive monthly briefings from the NPA and LPRC as follow up.