For the fifth time in a month, the Senate yesterday failed to hold a debate on a report from its joint committee on the state of the economy.
The plenary voted eight in favor of deferment, while five voted for a debate, with one abstention. Notable among those in support of the debate were Senators Nyonblee Karnga-Lawrence, Jonathan Kaipay, George Weah, Bleh-Bo Brown, and George Tengbeh.
Supporters in favor of another postponement included Senators Sando Johnson, Daniel Naatehn, Henry Yallah, and Jim Tornolah.
The debate is now scheduled for Thursday, March 23.
Meanwhile Senator Sando Johnson, in his motion, cited the absence of the heads of the committees on Banking and Currency, Sen. A. Marshall Dennis; and Judiciary, Claims and Petitions, Sen. Varney G. Sherman.
The report was prepared through the mandate of the plenary by the Joint Committee of the Senate that includes Banking and Currency, Ways, Means, Finance and Budget, Commerce, Trade and Industry, as well as Judiciary, Claims and Petitions, as a result of a communication from Senators Morris Saytumah, Lawrence, and Armah Zolu Jallah.
In their February 14 letter, the Senators among many other things, recommended a 25 percent reduction in benefits of the President, Vice President, Speaker, President Pro Tempore, Chief Justice, Associate Justices, Legislators, Ministers, Deputy Ministers, Assistant Ministers, Heads of Public Corporations, Directors and Commissioners. The benefits include gas slips, scratch cards and travel allowances, stressing the need to commission a study to cut unnecessary expenditure within the government.
In its February 27 report, the committee informed plenary of its intention to invite several stakeholders to a meeting on Wednesday, March 1, and therefore requested an additional week.
Since the expiration of that week, and subsequent submissions of the report, the Senate has on several occasions failed to start the debate on recommendations contained in the committee’s report.
Grand Bassa County Senator and one of the authors of the letter on the state of the economy, Senator Lawrence, has openly stated her disappointment in the report, and has vowed to request the Pro Tempore to ask the Senate plenary to constitute itself into a committee, and invite economic stakeholders to a new open hearing.
The prolonged delay to debate the report has started to baffle some members of the Senate, and speculations are fast developing as to what is going on, such as if there is an outside influence coming into play.
Meanwhile, some economists who confided in this newspaper yesterday disclosed that an estimated amount of US$75,000 may be realized monthly from the 25 percent cut in the benefits of Senators, which will amount to an estimated US$900,000 annually.
“The House of Representatives may even realize around US$10 million annually from such an initiative,” another source hinted to this newspaper.