Does The Legislature Need More Power?


Monrovia – Despite the numerous tasks and powers given the Legislature by the constitution, members of the body are still crafting laws, seeking to abrogate more powers unto themselves.Article 34 of the Constitution gives power to the legislature to, among many things,  create new counties and other political sub-divisions, and readjust existing county boundaries;  provide for the security of the Republic; and to provide for the common defense, to declare war and authorize the Executive to conclude peace; to raise and support the Armed Forces of the Republic, and to make appropriations thereof, provided that no appropriation of money for that use shall be for a longer term than one year; and to make rules for the governing of the Armed Forces of the Republic.

Report by: Henry Karmo – [email protected]

In the wake of these, the legislature also has the power to levy taxes, duties, imports, excise and other revenues, to borrow money, issue currency, mint coins, and to make appropriations for the fiscal governance of the Republic, subject to the following qualifications: that  all revenue bills, whether subsidies, charges, imports, duties or taxes, and other financial bills, shall originate in the House of Representatives, but the Senate may propose or concur with amendments as on other bills.

That no other financial charge shall be established, fixed, laid or levied on any individual, community or locality under any pretext whatsoever except by the expressed consent of the individual, community or locality. In all such cases, a true and correct account of funds collected shall be made to the community or locality.

Autonomy power

Despites these powers, the Liberian senate has voted in favor of a bill giving financial autonomy powers to the legislature but  a motion for reconsideration has halted that bill as it still lies in the office of the secretary of the Liberian Senate.

The bill, proposed by senator Jewel Howard Taylor, if passed into law, will be in compliance with all provisions of the Procurement and concession Act of 2010 and with internationally accepted accounting principles and procedures as, well as the laws and procedures of the General Auditing Commission of the Republic of Liberia relating to submission to audit in a statutory period.

Senator Taylor in her argument said till date, except for the National Legislature, the other two branches of Government (Executive and Judiciary) exercise financial autonomy, thus experiencing leverage, latitude and decisiveness in decision making and program implementation.

She believes the Legislative Branch finds it difficult to function efficiently under the present financial administrative arrangement wherein the Executive Branch administers the budget and the processing of financial documents of the Legislature, thereby subjecting it to a bureaucratic process which impedes its smooth administration.

Senator Taylor’s Act states each chamber of the Legislature will maintain a finance section headed by a director of Finance who, in consultation with the head of the secretariat of the respective chambers, shall have overall responsibility for professional administration of the budget of the house for which said director of finance is employed.

The act also states that in compliance with this financial Autonomy Act, the amount allotted by the department of budget from time to time to each House of the Legislature, excluding salaries, taxes and payments for social security, shall be directly deposited by the Ministry of finance into the current operating account of the respective House.

The law will also maintain the legal responsibility of the Ministry to prepare and provide each employee of the Legislature a statement of income for tax purposes.