The House’s Plenary today voted to remove all tenure positions from some anti-graphs institutions amid a committee report pointing out that those institutions were covered based on individual protection.
Good Governance and Judiciary Committees of the House of Representative argued that pertinent to investigations and research conducted, tenures should be placed on three institutions namely: the National Elections Commission), General Auditing Commission (GAC) and Central Bank of Liberia (CBL) to strengthen the independence of those anti-graphs institutions.
Recently Pres. George Weah called on the Legislature for an extraordinary session to discuss and make decisions on several issues in which he submitted the act prohibiting all tenure positions for their passage.
President Weah’s quest to de-tenurelize all anti-graphs institutions is intended to ensure the effective running of the government, remove protection from individuals heading those entities and exercise excess power as indicated in article 56 which provides that all cabinet Ministers and deputies shall be appointed by the President, therefore, working at the will and pleasure of the President.
Twenty Lawmakers voted in favor of the act passage while 10 were against and 2 abstain from the voting process.
Counter-arguments filled the floor of plenary when several lawmakers disagreed with the Committees report on grounds that the integrity of the country remains at stake in the absence of ensuring that anti-graphs institutions are relief of tenure positions.
The lawmakers indicated that the report in excluding other institutions like the PPCC, LACC among others send a clear message to international partners that the government of Liberia remains a threat to adherence of international best practice in relation to good governance.
“The Good Governance system of our country is evolving and it will be good that other anti-graphs institutions are given tenure positions to work independently of the executive branch of government which will strengthen our integrity with international partners”, Rep. Mariamu Fofana of Lofa County noted.
Rep. Samuel Kogar of Nimba County believes that giving excess power to the president over anti-graphs institutions will further undermine accountability in government and weaken transparency
“Corruption has already raided our country economy and furthermore our Constitution gives the President excess power so we cannot allow one person to overrule everything let these institutions work independently without interference”.
For Rep. Vincent Willie of Grand Bassa County District 4, the committee’s report lacks proper research owing to the missteps found in the report noting that anti-graphs institutions must be protected and not individuals as it is being stated in the report.
The Report indicated that previous tenure positions in institutions were based on the protection of individuals and not institutions which the committee recommended that some portion of the act be revisited.
According to the Co-chair on Judiciary, Hon. Cllr Kaine Wesso of Gbarpolu County, the committee findings indicated that the status of tenure personnel of the Liberia Government would possibly impede, obstruct or materially adversely affect development agenda of the president.
Section 2 of the Act Prohibiting the Tenure of Public Officials within the Executive Branch of Government noted that
“The President shall have and exercise all the powers necessary and convenient for the effective administration of the Executive Branch and all the institutions under its control, and to this end, all appointed officials thereof shall hold office at the will and pleasure of the president, however heads and deputies of integrity institutions to include NEC, LACC, GAC, and CBL and their tenures remain enforce as per statute”, the act stated.
The Committees in their recommendation stated that there is a need to relook at acts establishing several anti-graph institutions including the Public Procurement and Concession Commission (PPCC), National Social Security of Liberia (NASSCORP), National Lotteries, and Civil Service Agency (CSA), among others in order to ensure the proper decision on granting tenure positions thereof.
In keeping with the House of Representatives Rule 17#4, Montserrado County Representative Thomas Fallah stated that there should be a motion for reconsideration on the matter. Rule 17#4Q states that when an issue is decided by the House, any Legislator who voted on the issue may, on the same day, or within the next twos following session days move for reconsideration of the decision; every motion for reconsideration shall be decided by a majority vote.
As it stands, the PPCC, LACC are among other anti-graph institutions that will serve at the will and pleasure of the president amid the passage of the act.
Analysts believe that the action of the Lower House on the passage of the act raises more question as in a controlling executive branch of government over the entire country in relation to a weak check and balance system.
Analysts argue that Liberia is at the verge of losing several international support in the wake of controlling anti-graph institutions in which the act clearly stated that their work will be at the will and pleasure of the president which indicate a troubling sign under democracy and good governance.