Legislature Approves 60 Days’ State of Emergency to Contain Spread of COVID 19

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1989
The Legislature has modified the 21 days’ request to 60 days --- 11:49pm, April 11 ----- 11:49pm, June 11

Members of the Liberian Senate and House of Representatives have endorsed President George Weah’s request to declare a state of emergency to contain the further spread of the coronavirus.

However, the President’s request was endorsed with lots of modifications including sweeping powers to quarantine any affected counties or portions duration the period of the state of emergency based on health expert advice without the approval of the legislature.

“Now, therefore, it is hereby resolved by the senate and the house of representatives of the Republic of Liberia, in legislature assembled: that the state of emergency is approved for a period of up to ninety days from its effective date of April 10, 2020.

“However, the President of Liberia, on the advice of health experts, may impose an absolute quarantine in the affected counties or portions thereof at a time and for a duration based on expert advice,”  the resolution disclosed.

The Upper House passed the resolution at 90 days, while the Lower House approved it at 60, but a conference committee of both Houses, headed by Sen. Peter Coleman and Rep. Acarous M. Gray met and agreed to the senate modification of 60 days.

The lawmakers’ resolutions also extended the state of emergency, which has been effective for about a week now from its previous 21 days’ request to 60 days.

It now means that the state of emergency announced by the President will not end on May 1, but June 11, 2020, at 11:49 pm.

Furthermore, the lawmakers authorized the President to end the state of emergency at any time during its operational period, “if the conditions which created the need for the state of emergency is abated and the clear and present danger absent.”

Additionally, the lawmakers have demanded all of Liberia approximately 4.5 million residents to wear face mask, while going out after the new strain of coronavirus—which can pass between humans—has caught 76 persons in the country, resulting in 7 death and 7 recoveries.

“That all restrictions imposed by the President pertaining to the movement of persons and hours applicable are hereby approved and modified only to the extent that all persons appearing in public streets and buildings must wear a protective device that covers at least the nose and mouth,” the resolution said.

The joint resolution, signed on Friday, April 17, 2020, was passed by twenty-five Senators and over 55 Representatives, which make up two-thirds votes needed from both houses to either revoke, approve or change the President state of emergency declaration.

In order areas,  the lawmakers have approved the President’s request for a loan payment of market women and small petty traders bank loans to mitigate the adverse economic impact brought forth by the state of emergency.

“That the Market Women and Small Informal Petty Traders Bank Loan Program is approved, with modification to add credit unions and related entities registered and doing business before January 1, 2020,” the resolution added. “And the request to appropriate US$15 million for Government domestic debt will be considered for the 2020/2021 Fiscal Year budget.”

The lawmakers’ resolution also mandates the government to make sure that the food support program covers the entire country, and should prioritize vulnerable population and the first responder population as well as the disadvantaged youth, the homeless, orphanages, senior citizens, and people with disabilities, etc.

“That the initial request for US$25 million is hereby approved for the Food Support Program with the modification that all of the 15 counties within the Republic shall be covered as affected counties for food support and additional amounts needed shall be submitted for re-appropriation. Procurement under this program must first accommodate locally produced food.

“That the food distribution program must prioritize the vulnerable population and the first responder population to wit: the disadvantaged youth, the homeless, orphanages, senior citizens, people with disabilities health workers and security personnel deployed in the frontline of the enforcement of the State of Emergency,” the resolution said.

At first, the President’s request to the legislature did not include the provision of free food to Liberians across the entire country, rather to households in designated affected counties for 60 days, which he requested US25 million for.

The President’s request also fails as well to include market women and small petit traders who took loans from credit unions as beneficiaries of the government loan payment program.

Meanwhile, the lawmakers have established COVID-19 Emergency Relief Fund,  to solicit donations from individuals, groups of individuals, local and international private organizations, business enterprises and any other person interested in assisting the most vulnerable populations of the Republic against the scourge of COVID 19.

Before the establishment of the COVID-19 Emergency Relief Fund, the lawmakers previously wanted the fund resource to come from a 25% salary deduction of all gainfully employed persons (both in the private and public sectors) for two months (May and June 2020).

According to the lawmakers draft document then, payment to the Emergency COVID-19 Fund shall be made in the same manner as payroll taxes are collected through the Liberia Revenue Authority as the intermediary; and all money collected by the Liberia Revenue Authority shall be deposited into the account(s) established at the commercial bank(s) designated by the Minister of Finance and Development Planning.

However, after heavy public backlash, the lawmakers remove such a clause and donated to the fund voluntarily.

It further that: All health workers shall receive monthly hazard pay for regular as well as volunteer workers as provided for by international organizations. And that all frontline security personnel shall receive monthly extended duty pay for the duration of the state of emergency. The appropriations of amounts under this program shall be subject to the recast budget.

The resolution concluded with calls for the establishment of a “Joint Select Emergency Oversight Committee to be appointed by the Speaker of the House of Representatives and President Pro Tempore of the Senate exercise oversight over all of the programs approved in this resolution and report to both chambers.”

“That the Tax Policy and Administration Stimulus Program is hereby approved,” the resolution said.

Author

  • I am a Liberian journalist, born November 7 and hailed from the Southeast and of the kru tribe. I began contributing to the Daily Observer 2008 and was fully employed in 2012. I am the 3rd of eight children and named after my great grandfather. Am happily married with three children (girls). I am a full member of the Press Union of Liberia (PUL) and also the Sports Writers Association of Liberia (SWAL) and the Legislative Press Pool (LEGISPOL). I can be contacted through email: [email protected] or cell number/WhatsApp: (+231) 0886585875 or Facebook.

11 COMMENTS

  1. Bravo!!!! Legislature and Presidency!!!! But please remember that:

    (1)Greater is expected from those who receive more! Hence;

    (2) Any idea to cut whatever percent of the salaries of ordinary employees of government, the private sector, or the Third Sector, is heinous unreasonableness mixed with total cruelty inflicted on the poor!

    (3)Therefore, the cut should affect ONLY AND ONLY legislators, judges of the Supreme Court, senior managers of private corporations, and All cabinet ministers, deputy and assistant cabinet ministers, ambassadors,ministers and consuls, superintendents of counties and other government officials, both military and civilian, appointed by the President.

    (4) The huge contributions and fundings from state and other international actors as the US, EU, IMF, WORLD BANK, ETC, AND OTHER PRIVATE COMPANIES should be seen as any cut that should have come from the poor! Greater is expected from those who receive more! And affirmative action must always be adopted in such a debacle as this pandemic which affects the poor far far far more than the rich and powerful!!!!!!!

  2. Rhyne Brigil

    Now, what’s in this package for Weah? Have people already forgotten that all revenue intakes belong in Weah’s personal coffers and they are spent in accordance with his discretion?

    The problem is people often missed the full impact of his messages because of his rhetorical style; however, if only the listeners could pay keen attention to what he often says, then they would be very cautious and will not always be surprised by his actions. He told a throng of his followers once, “…I can score goal. When I tell people I can score goal, I mean O.”

    What was Weah saying? The casual listeners interpreted this message as he was talking about national developments and a plan to move the country forward.

    Notwithstanding, what his followers did not understand was his message connoted a deeper meaning other than what they thought his genuine intention was. He meant that he did not come to the presidency to die poor. As a goal scorer, he has his own personal agenda, and he will make sure it takes precedence above all national causes.

    For example, the goal scorer has already built 45 condos and bought a private jet in less than a year and six months. He accomplished this daring feat with impunity and at the detriment and health of the impoverished citizens.

    I wonder what is going to happen this time around with the IMF loans that are now in his custody. Beware people, Mighty Gbehkugbeh’s ultimate goal is to be called Africa’s richest president even if it takes mortgaging all of Liberia’s valuable resources to foreign, predatory lenders for a little of nothing

  3. “Rhyne Brigil”, you are another sick and silly clown. Is the Legislature which Approves 60 Days’ State of Emergency to Contain Spread of COVID 19 “a throng of his (Pres. Weahś) followers?

  4. Rhyne Brigil

    Concerned Citizen

    You are below contempt and I will not stoop to your level. Obviously you are blinded by a verdure of the deepest ignorance!

  5. Liberia’s, from 1989 to present, no peace. What is going on with this country? Is it the wrath of God? From 1989 to 2003 generations were destroyed in so many ways. Comes Ebola and now COVID-19. We that are trying to upbring new family we are very scare of their futures. The 21 days set by the president could have remained and monitor the situation.

    Endorsing the state of emergency for 60 days is a huge setback for the survivability of this country most especially the economy. While these idiotic lawmakers try to supplant the 21 days previously set by the President? Are they trying to justify the bailout funds pronounced by the world leaders to fight COVID-19? Liberia, we should try to abolish such ancient way of governance. Most especially the upper bicameral house (senate) as did Senegal and other well meaning countries to curtail the unnecessary expenditures by government. From 2006 to now the House has become a hustle ground. No good decision these idiotic guys can make in the interest of the country. From the administration of EJS to GMW, they are almost ruling with decree instead of check and balancing them. The flying of brown envelopes are matter of the day. These useless guys don’t even look at the survivability of the economic but safety of lives; these will not valuable if Locking down a country for 60 productive days you might be joking. We will continue to linger in poverty throughout because of our brainless leaders. The insincerity of the health workers also should not be overruled as it happened in the Ebola cased that made them today living luxurious life’s. Many death pronounced by them has been contented by the victims families. Today Germany and US are protesting for the reopening of their economic insinuating that those that suppose to died will died but the reopening of the economic should be Paramount. Well advance country like China lockdown for 2 weeks and their economy dropped to 65%, a huge lost for them. Giving food ratio to the slum dwellers and loan to petty traders is not substantial for the process. What commercialization they will engaged in to makes profits under this circumscribing era? Fighting the disease alone is okay but don’t forget about the roads rehabilitation as the rainy season is in the corner which cause more havoc for this country if left untouchable.

  6. At least, real government and a semblance of good governance is beginning to be felt in the country now. I just hope this type of interaction continues instead of the “ghetto” type of governance that was becoming the order of the day. If both houses of parliament will always get involved sensibly on issues of state and governance like this in the future, then Liberia is ready for business with the rest of the world. Legislature, y’all thank you oh.

  7. The great USA just printed and distributed $2 Trillion dollars to individuals and businesses but that amount of money was NOT ENOUGH…!!!

    Weah and his cronies need to prioritize information dissemination via Social Media, and Liberian media outlets ASAP … they are already late, again.

    The best mitigation approach for poor countries like Liberia is DECONGESTION — all of the population centers in the country — starting with Monrovia need to be emptied of people.

    Y’all go back to Y’all villages…!!!!!!
    When this thing cool down, then Y’all can come back to town.

    No amount of financial “stimulus” can slow this sickness down because it is in the air and there is NO MEDICINE for it right now.

    Weah and his friends acting like they are dividing money so they can steal big, big portions of money they are getting from goodwill countries.

    But if they don’t prioritize the healthcare sector, lots of people will not be around to eat the cola nut that the baboon is dividing today.

    Ayaka , yaka….aaaeeeYa!

  8. Thank God to have people like Dr. Peter Coleman in the senate. I hope we can have more seasoned and career individuals like him in our senate to provide oversight and accountability in every sector of governance.

    Rhyne Brigil, my greetings and salutations this day. You seem to have an eagle eye and moth or bath hearing capacity. Continue to keep alert as we have only one place to call home. Our country is indeed in a serious mess. If we do not stay vigilant, we may be doomed.

    They were lashing out 90 days confinement, not even thinking about where they came from and the people who would be hit the hardest but thank God for Dr. Peter Coleman.
    They were imposing 25% compulsory salary cuts without the points of view of workers’ unions or the workers, yet their first action was to reduce the meagre earnings of our impoverished workforce.

    WARNINGSHOT,
    Excuse me but the use of some words can sometimes mislead our inept leadership in Africa, especially Liberia.
    The USA did not PRINT money to distribute. Don’t make our government to begin printing banknotes to pocket under the pretext of distributing, please.
    Like a daily job, the US Treasury constantly prints banknotes to replace mutilated ones. There are trillions of dollars as reserve funds in the US Treasury to be pumped unto the market in times like this.
    We are far from understanding reserves. Our leadership is based on borrowing from the IMF and then we get our cut at the detriment of future generations, as has been done over years.

    Talking about going back to the village, do you want to kill the “kwee” children? As soon as they foot in Monrovia, the people in their villages become witchcrafts. In fact, do you expect them to sleep in huts in their villages?
    Abidjan is currently practically emptied of indigenous Ivorians. They now work from their villages and attend meetings with other workers and foreign partners using the internet.
    How many Liberians can do that even from our administrative headquarters?

    Real change of minds and development will come to Liberia!
    May God protect us all to see the end of this other global challenge!

  9. The Weah’s Government is so inconsiderate to ordinary Liberians ways of living? This President came from a very poor Community in Monrovia where his parent used the MARKETPLACE daily to buy food. Now, that he has asset to store his weekly or monthly foods, he does not care about the CITIZENS that face such a poor life style in nearly all COMMUNITIES in Cities around Liberia. Why 60 days State of Emergency when the death tolls have not reached 20 or more in the Country? Will it serve his Government well to see CHILDREN suffer from malnutrition because their MOTHERS are not allowed to sell in order feel their Children due to the State Emergency put in place by their Government? Very poor in humane calculation.

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