Speaking Tuesday, August 31, 2021 at a news conference following the official closing of the 4th session of the 54th Legislature, the President Pro-Tempore of the Liberian Senate, Albert Tugbe Chie, pointed out that they will continue to have money in the National Budget for “Legislative Engagements”, suggesting that nothing has changed or is near changing so far, despite condemnations by the public.
It can be recalled that a fortnight ago, members of the 54th Legislature (Houses of Representatives and Senate) received a second portion of a US$30,000 allocated to each of them for “Legislative Projects and Engagements” having received the first portion of US$15,000 earlier.
But the allocation of this money was greeted with huge criticisms by the public, who believes that it is unjust for the Legislators, who are clothed with constitutional mandate to scrutinize budget, to appropriate funding unto themselves, claiming that there would be no checks and balances in such appropriation.
However, amid this and many more other concerns and issues raised by the public, the Grand Kru County lawmaker bragged that the allotment is legitimate.
According to him, this is the only means they can properly engage their constituencies and provide needed opportunities such as scholarships for underprivileged students.
“The budget is the only source for us to embark on legislative projects, legislative engagement and provide scholarship and other special programs. So, we will continue to put money for legislative engagements,” he asserted.
“There are outstanding legislative projects and the US$2million in the Special National Budget is a sub set of all legislative actions. We will be looking at so many reforms upon our return,” he said.
Commenting on whether they feel embarrassed during the period under review, Senator Chie accentuated, "Our actions are not criticized. We are political animals and we are opened to criticisms. We believe in our actions. We welcome criticisms and we are proud of what we are doing.”
Providing statistics of the session under review, the head of the Upper House disclosed that there were 60 days of sitting with a total of 30 bills passed into law.
Out of this, he said several were financing agreement to support development and economic growth.
“Several bills are still in committee such as the bill for electoral reforms, and this is one of the most important bills. As we are going towards 2023, one of the key issues is to look at the electoral reforms so that we don’t have the kind of problem that we are having, especially with our experience in this gone Special Senatorial Election,” he indicated.
“We have been vigorously acting in our past session. The Legislature made additional budgetary appropriations to key sectors and programs such security, health, trafficking and abuse and so on,” Pro-Temp Chie, among other things, added.