Supreme Court to Decide LISCR Agreement

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Exactly two months after some members of the National Legislature ratified the extended and restated agency agreement between the Government of Liberia and the International Shipping and Corporate Registry (LISCR), lawmakers who opposed the deal have requested the Supreme Court to halt its implementation.
The aggrieved lawmakers, including Sen. Oscar Cooper (Margibi), yesterday filed their appeal before the Justice in Chambers, Associate Justice Kabineh M. Ja’neh, arguing that it violated some rules of the Legislature.
Confirming the submission of the petition, Justice Ja’neh in a brief talk with the Daily Observer yesterday evening, said he had received a complaint from some lawmakers, stressing, “I am considering its content.”
Some members of both the Senate and House of Representatives enacted a comprehensive revision of the Liberia Registry Act, which among other things, provides that Liberia Maritime Authority (LMA) and LISCR are to execute an operating Agreement by which LISCR shall take over and manage the Liberian Maritime Training Institute (LMTI).
The Agreement also provides that not more than 25 percent of annual Net Program Revenues are to be transmitted on a monthly basis directly to the LMA in order to fund the entity’s budget as approved by its board of directors.
It further states that LMA and LISCR are to identify property in Washington D.C. in the United States where they will purchase a building to be used as their U.S. headquarters.
According to the Agreement, LISCR is to provide US$2 million on behalf of the government to cover closing costs, real estate agents’ fees and related expenses.
That amount, the Agreement states, in part is consideration for the amendment and that the actual cost of acquisition, construction and development of the headquarters will be deducted from the Net Program Revenues to be paid to the Government of Liberia (GOL).
Shortly after the passage of the Agreement, a group of lawmakers challenged the validity of certain provisions on constitutional grounds.
The challenge which brought in the Supreme Court, included a provision that they allege violates the substantive due process under the Financial Management Act, which states that all funds due the Liberian government must be deposited into its consolidated fund.
They argued that the rules of the Senate expressly require that prior to passage, bills and resolutions shall receive three readings on three different days unless the rule is suspended by a vote of two-thirds of the members of the Senate.
They further alleged that the journal of activity on the floor of the Senate on March 31 this year does not show that two-thirds of the entire membership voted in favor of suspending the rules.
Rule 34 sub-sections 1 and 2, Rule 38 sub-sections 2 and 3 and Rule 65 of the Standing Rules of the Senate were breached, according to the lawmakers, and therefore, “the ratification could not be and is not approved in accordance with the Rules, and as such, the ratification is not binding.
They contended that the cost implications of the operating Agreement together with the regulations and development plans of LMTI were not also reviewed by them, especially the costs and expenses of LMTI that are to be deducted from the Net Program Revenues.
Another contentious issue raised by the lawmakers is the extension of the prior agreement by ten years, commencing from the effective date of amendment. They argued that the unexpired period of the agreement is approximately five years, claiming that “There was insufficient justification for extending the agreement for an additional ten years.”

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