Liberia: Rep. Willie Blames Executive For ‘Signing For Stolen Money’ Allegation Against Lawmakers
Monrovia – Grand Bassa County Representative Vincent Willie has blamed the Executive for the unprecedented wave of verbal attacks from citizens, who often accuse members of the 54th Legislative of signing for ‘stolen’ monies’ to pass legislations in the interest of President George Weah.
It can be recalled that conflicting accounts were given by some members of the National Legislature over the receipt of US$6,500 and US$17,000 each to endorse the State of Emergency declared by the President and to ensure the unhindered passage of the recast budget.
Both the SOE, which elapsed on June 10, and the recast budget were endorsed through a resolution, and passed by the Legislature.
But Representative Willie on Wednesday said the Executive pays allowances and other benefits of lawmakers at their will and pleasure.
He maintained that monies intended for lawmakers’ gasoline and incentives are only paid when the Executive submits a bill or a document seeking legislative endorsement or passage.
Representative Willie made these comments when he appeared on OK FM 99.5 in Monrovia on Wednesday, June 17.
According to him, the lukewarm attitude of the Executive to pay benefits of lawmakers whenever a document is submitted has been misconstrued for a prolong period in Liberia.
“This debate is a two-sided debate. Other people will say the Legislature is the problem, and others will say the Executive. I can sometimes agree with people who say the Legislature is the problem. But if you go deeper, you will know the reason why the Legislature is what it is today,” he said.
“Most of the time, people see these monies that the legislators received, they will say ‘oh that’s stolen money or this money.’ No, at times, we would receive gasoline for about six months but when there are instruments from the Executive that is when they start fast tracking the gasoline that they were owing [us for] six months ago”.
Representative Willie claimed that the present situation is an aged-old problem that also occurred during the regime of ex-Liberian President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf.
In some instances, war of words has ensued between rival legislators over the exact amounts of money paid by the Executive to members of the Legislature as benefits or allowance when a legislation is passed.
“This debate is a two-sided debate. Other people will say the Legislature is the problem, and others will say the Executive. I can sometimes agree with people who say the Legislature is the problem. But if you go deeper, you will know the reason why the Legislature is what it is today.”– Representative Vincent Willie, Grand Bassa County
The situation most often compelled citizens to speculate that lawmakers have taken “bribe” or have been “induced” to act in favor of the Executive to pass a bill or loan agreement to the detriment of those who elected them.
But Representative Willie denied that the consistent strategy implored by the Executive is intended to ‘induce’ lawmakers into passing legislations in favor of the Executive.
The Grand Bassa County lawmaker further disclosed that “serious controversies” sometimes ensued among legislators over this issue.
Meanwhile, the Grand Bassa County lawmaker has renewed calls for the Legislature to gain a “financial autonomous” status.
“If the Legislature has financial autonomy, control her own budget; you don’t need to go to the Ministry of Finance to say come and pay our salaries or gasoline. No,” he said.
Representative Willie recently declared his intention to contest the ensuing senatorial election Grand Bassa County.
He disclosed that his decision is based upon the level of work he has done for his constituents and the people of Grand Bassa county at large.
“Politics is not plenty talking or wasting money in the rural areas. Maybe you can try it other places. There were people who have money in this country, and they were defeated. The debate is about tangibles and what you have done. The Bassa people will decide,” he said.
“The people do not need party in the rural area. And so, I am going to contest as an independent candidate… the little I have done in my district, other districts around have seen and they want me to contest”.