Liberia: Senate Pro-Tempore Announces Several Reforms: Full Statement at The Joint Senate And House Luncheon Marking The Opening of The 5th Session of The 54th Legislature
Salutation: Mr. Speaker, the Chief Justice, Deputy Speaker, Senate Chair on the Executive, Colleagues of the Legislature, Officials of Government, the Diplomatic Corps, Clergy, Religious and Business Leaders, Political Parties, Traditional Leaders, Other Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen:
Let me join previous speakers to welcome you on behalf of the Liberian Senate to this luncheon. The Senate opened an hour and half ago for business.
I use this opportunity to thank my colleagues in the Senate and House for the cooperation received during the 4th Session. There was no signing of removal resolution from my end.
I also had the honour of working with several former members of the House, including two (2) former speakers and a Deputy speaker, who are now Senators. They have added to the experience and expertise existing at the Senate.
At the Senate during the 4th Session, Plenary instituted several reforms:
- It is said that “wherever there is even a small cloud of darkness, Democracy suffers”. We have therefore minimized the number of Executive or closed door sessions; these sessions are now held only for issues of national security and to vote during confirmation of Presidential nominees; there are plans to amend the Senate rules to vote publicly during confirmation;
- We have stopped citing concessionaires and international organizations to Plenary and Committee Rooms; We have restricted this to superintending government agencies. For example, instead of citing or inviting Firestone, we invite or cite the Ministry of Agriculture to provide the requested information.
- For crucial issues like concession and incentive agreements, national budget, etc, votes of Senators are recorded and published so that the constituents know how their Senators vote on these issues.
The Senate and House have jointly started the process of seeking interpretation from the Supreme Court on several constitutional issues which have lingered for many many years and will help in our legislative processes. This in no way should be construed as the Senate and House are at loggerheads, but instead should be viewed in the context of manifestation of the nation’s democratic maturity.
We thank the Executive Branch for the cooperation received, but the Senate had problems with some heads of agency to appear and provide information. We urge our colleagues at the various ministries and agencies to facilitate the oversight responsibilities of the various Senate Committees by availing themselves for discussions and supply of information.
Thank you Mr. Speaker and Chief Justice and with your permission and now ask all to rise and raise your glasses and bottles as I proffer a toast to the sustenance of peace in our country. Peace!