Of the total number of bills passed, 45 consisted of Senate’s engrossed bills, 15 bills that originated from the House of Representatives.
During his annual session’s closing statement, Pro Tempore Chie recalled the Senate’s concurrence with the House of Representatives on the passage of the 2019/2020 National Budget of US$526 million, which marked a significant decrease over the 2018/2019 budget.
“It is our belief that this is a realistic budget that can be executed with predictability and efficiency, to prevent or minimize the perennial problem of budget shortfall; this budget will also facilitate the acceptance of our country into the program of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which could eventually bring much more benefit to our country,” Chie assured.
Senator Chie further said that the annual wage bill in the budget was cast at approximately US$297 million, which he termed as “very, very much difficulty.” He also thanked workers in the public sector of the country for their understanding shown with the salary harmonization process; “by this process, the salaries of some of our public servants were reduced, some were raised, while some were untouched.”
Additionally, he said, realizing the current economic situation faced by the country, “the sacrifices of civil servants and the importance of joining the IMF program, the Senate has approved a reduction in its budget by approximately 30%; the plenary has mandated that the chair on the committee of Ways, Means, Finance and Budget provide details of the Senate’s budgetary adjustment to the public.”
“We wish to ensure and assure our citizens that the Senate will work, along with the House of Representatives and other branches of the government, towards prompt actions that will help stabilize the economy, which has been struggling since the Ebola outbreak,” Pro Tempore Chie further said.
On the number of legislation acted on during the 2nd Session, he named the financing agreement between the Liberian government and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Bank in the tune of US$50 million to begin the construction of a segment of road from Barclayville, Grand Kru County, to Sinoe County, which he said is the beginning of a network of roads planned for the Southeastern part of the country which has not benefited from infrastructure development for many years.
He also mentioned the Senate’s agreement for the construction of two cement plants as well as another agreement for a flour mill which, he asserted, will help create jobs for the citizens.
Senator Chie deliberated on three constitutional propositions to go for a national referendum on October 2020; the Dual Citizenship Bill, Reduction in the Tenure of the President, Vice President and Members of the Legislature and adjustment in the date of General Elections from October to November.
“During the discussions, there was a suggestion to allot 15 seats in the Senate solely for women. While this male-dominated Senate generally believes in affirmative action, it was a unanimous opinion that allotment of 15 seats for women alone is not the appropriate remedy for the political empowerment of women, especially in the face of economic constraints facing our country; nevertheless, the Senate has resolved to remain engaged to find alternatives through statutes for women’s political advancement,” the Pro Tempore said.
During its sitting, “the Senate also passed an amendment to the 2014 Petroleum Exploration and Production Reform Law, to resurrect the upstream petroleum sector and facilitate the holding of a petroleum bill within the next few months.” source Liberian Oberver