Amidst loud public outcry for all lawmakers to reject the second payment of the so-called Legislative Engagement of US$15 thousand each, upon receiving the first batch of US$15k which they also refused to return and be used for other pressing issues specifically the ravaging COVID-19-led onslaught, only one lawmaker has rejected the second payment and heed to the cry of the people..
The disappointment of the public outcry comes not as a surprise, practically at the time when the people’s quest for the lawmakers who said it is a legitimate money enshrined in the national budget, and knowing that the budget is a law;, has shown no signal of returning the amount (US$30k each inclusively; now a serious challenge has been thrown out to any lawmakers to cast the first stone of not receiving the second payment of US$15k besides Grand Bassa County’s Senator Nyomblee Karnga Lawrence who has turned down the second payment.
Disclosing this on a local station, Bomi County controversial Senator Edwin Melvin Snowe, without second thought, pinned down his colleagues, and proclaimed that apart from Senator Lawrence, he defies the rest of the senators to prove him wrong by coming out clean.
Despite the hullaballoos which vehemently eclipsed the explained reason for the legitimacy and legality of the self-styled Legislative Engagement, which was also difficult to be digested by the raging public, as not being timely in the wake of the current state of affairs, and considering the total silence on the part of the lawmakers besides Senator Nyonblee Karnga- Lawrence, to debunk Senator Snowe; pundits have rated them as political liars who only feel satisfied for what is in there for them and deeply care exclusively for themselves.
The pundits pointed out that having lied that they (lawmakers) would listen to them (electorates) and do those things that will enable and convince them of making the utmost sacrifice in the supreme interest of the people and never to subordinate the citizens’ survivability to self-aggrandizement during the previous elections which was also embedded in the campaign speeches and promises, it is vividly glaring that their refusal to adhere to the cries of the people in this COVID-19 era to spend their US$30k each on education on the most challenged healthcare delivery system, had made them liars, untrustworthy and a bundle of pathetic disappointment in any fashion.
It can be recalled that following the distribution of US$30K in two instilments by the lawmakers as legislative engagement which the legislators termed as legitimate money because it was enshrined in the national budget, and since the budget is a law, the Director of the (United Methodist Human Right Monitor (UMHRM), Mr. Jefferson Knight vehemently condemns the practice and called it ‘broad daylight stealing;
Kinght added that with the nation’s education system crumbling massively due to lack of adequate financial attention and interest accorded it; with the health care delivery centers in shamble, and moreover, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to ravage the country and people; it would have been prudent enough, instead of begging all over for vaccines and maximum assistance. the amount could be used to address some of these burning issuers confronting the people and state,
He also noted that being the people’s representatives and lawmakers, the health, safety and wellbeing should be paramount to their obligation, and one way to demonstrate such is by diverting their US$30K from their individual projects to curbing the dreadful menace currently ravaging the safety and livelihoods of the people. .
According to him, putting the money by them to be used on such purpose in the budget to legitimize its legality is corruption and doesn’t reflect the core value of their (lawmaker’s) commitment and service to the people who employed them to perform a delicate task exclusively for their comfort, security and happiness.
It can be recalled that the Political leader of Alternative National Congress (ANC), Mr. Alexander B. Cummings, adding his voice to the many about the disbursement of the US$30k to each lawmakers as legislative engagement pointed out that our economy is under severe stress.
According to the ANC’S Political Leader, the government is begging for budgetary support from friendly nations, including to meet its payroll obligations, as the productive sector of the economy collapses, adding, ‘businesses are shutting down, cost of living is rising, and our people are suffering”.
“Reports are pointing to a rise in confirmed cases of COVID-19, and Liberia could be at the dangerous onset of the virus with increasing health risks to Liberians, and further risks to the crumbling economy. Liberia is not prepared for a new wave, and could lose more lives and livelihoods”.
Under these conditions, Cummings said, no responsible government would be spending wastefully, and with no accountability.
“It is why it is wrong and inexcusable for the Liberian Government to be spending money to take care of the political interests of those at the top, and not provide for the livelihood of those at the bottom who need to be helped the most, especially as the threat of COVID-19 hangs over the nation”.
Meanwhile, Article 34(d)(ii) – An annual statement and account of the receipt and expenditure of all public monies shall be submitted by the President to the Legislature and published once a year;
- Also, Article 36 states that the senators and representatives shall receive from the Republic remuneration for their services to be fixed by law, provided that any increase shall become effective at the beginning of the next fiscal year, again, this speaks to the gross disregard of the balance of power coupled with checks and balances.
Liberia largely begs friendly nations for support of everything ranging from Healthcare to Agriculture and roads and other service. Now with Coronavirus ravaging our Legislators are very insensitive to its fight.
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