By Alex Yomah & Bill W. Cooper
Montserrado County Senator, Abraham Darious Dillon yesterday, January 26, 2021, submitted a bill at the Liberian Senate seeking amendments in several sections of the Code of Conduct.
In the draft bill read in plenary on Tuesday, Senator Dillon sought amendments in part v, section 5.1, 5.2, 5.3, 5.9; part-10, section-10.1, 10.2, 10.3, and part 15, section 15.1, of An Act of Legislature prescribing a National Code of Conduct for Public officials and employees of Government of Liberia.
Under political participation 5.1 CoC, all officials appointed by the President of the Republic of Liberia shall not: engage in political activities, canvass or contest for elected offices; use government facilities, equipment or resources in support of partisan or political activities; serve on a campaign team of any party, or the campaign of any independent candidate.
In Dillon’s proposal under political participation for Part-V, under CoC 5.1: all officials appointed by the President shall not: Use Government facilities, equipment or resources in support of partisan or political activities whether during work hours or not, serve on the campaign team of any political party, or the campaign of any independent candidate.
CoC 5.2, wherein, any person in the category stated in section 5.1 herein above, desires to canvass or contest for an elective public position, the following shall apply;
Amendment: Any officials appointed by the President pursuant to Article 56(a) of the constitution and a Managing Director appointed by a Board of Directors, who desires to contest for public elective office shall resign said position at least one (1) month to the day he/she submits an application to the elections Commission, expressing his or interest to contest for a public office.
5.3, it is unlawful for any public official to intimidate, threaten, or coerce, or to attempt to intimidate, threaten, or coerce any other persons for the purpose of interfering with the right of such other persons to vote or not to vote as he may choose, or of causing such other persons to vote for or not to vote for, any candidate for any elected public office.
Amendment: 5.3 it is unlawful, and would be a violation of the right of any person for any public officials to intimidate, threaten, or coerce, any other person for the purpose of interfering with the right of such other persons to vote or not to vote as he may choose, or of causing such other persons to vote for, or not to vote for, any candidate for any elected public office.
Section 5.9, any public official, after due process, who is found guilty of violating any provision of this section, shall be immediately removed from the position or office held by him/her, and thereafter no part of the funds appropriated by any law for such position or office shall be used to pay compensation to such person.
5.9, any public official, after due process, who is found guilty of violating any provision of this section shall be immediately removed from the position or office held by him/her; shall be denied the right to contest for any elective office in the election at hand; and where the violation established has a criminal nature, said official or employee shall be prosecuted in accordance with law. The Republic shall make no payment to said individual under any pretext whatsoever as compensation for time served; neither shall said individual be entitled to any benefit in the name of retirement.
Part –x 10.1: Declaration of Assets and performance bonds, every public official and employee of government involved in making decision affecting contracting, tendering or procurement, and issuance of licenses of various types shall sign performance or financial bonds and shall in addition, notarize, declare and publish his or her income, assets and liabilities prior to taking office and thereafter: (a) at the end of every three years;( b) on promotion or progression from one level to another; (C) upon transfer to another public office, and ( d) upon retirement or reassignment.
10.2 Repository and contents of declaration:
The declaration of personal interest, income, assets, liabilities and the performance bond as may be required, shall be lodged with: in the Legislative Branch, with the Secretary of the Senate and the Chief Clerk of the House of Representatives; in the Executive Branch, with the General Auditing Commission, (LACC) and in the Judicial Branch with the Clerk of Supreme Court; and in each event such receipt shall be notified to the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC).
Proposal: All such declarations shall be accessible to both the public and employer and the general public, as well as to the LACC and the General Auditing Commission (GAC) for investigative purposes. The declaration shall be promptly updated by public officials and employees of Government upon subsequent charges in his or her interest and/or assets. Each declaration along with the updates thereto shall include disclosure of income, assets, liabilities, net worth, financial and family interests held by the official.
10.3 sanctions for false declaration proposal: Every public official and employee of government shall declare and affirm that his or her declaration is accurate to the best of his/her knowledge.
Any statement in such declaration found to be false upon verification shall lead to summary dismissal and other measures provided by law, including prosecution for perjury where applicable and others.
However, Senator Dillon’s bill was unanimously endorsed and forwarded to Senate Judicial Committee for perusal and to advise plenary on the way forward.
Meanwhile, members of the House of Representatives have unanimously voted to reverse the recently increased tariff of 9.67 percent levied on cargos service by the APM Terminal Liberia at the National Port Authority (NPA).
The plenary of that august body took the decision in yesterday’s session following a cross examination of the APM Terminal Chief Financial Official and Acting Managing Director, Khalid El Laiti and the NPA Managing Director, Bill Tweahway over APM latest decision to increase tariff on cargos service.
Members of the House of Representatives further agreed to write the Executive Branch of government through the office of President George M. Weah for the sole purpose to oversee the execution of the reversal of then APM’s latest increment of tariff on cargos service in the spirit of coordination.
In a related development, the plenary of the House of Representatives has also mandated its joint committees comprising the Judiciary, Ways, Means and Finance and Commerce Trade and Industry to review the concession agreement signed between the Government and APM Terminal in 2010 and that the committees be made to report within two weeks.
The plenary’s decision was triggered following a justification from the APM Terminal management of their latest decision to increase the tariff as well as the NPA MD defense statement in which he craved the indulgence of that august body to see reason to review the concession agreement on grounds that it is not in the interest of the Liberian people.
The APM Terminal Chief Financial Official and Acting Managing Director, Khalid El Laiti justified that their latest tariff increment was in line with the 25 years concession agreement signed between them and the government of Liberia in 2010, something he said gives the APM Terminal the exclusive right to increase tariff annually.
According to him, their decision is also intended to pay loan debt in the tune of US$10 million which he said is needed to be paid this year (2021) as well as to enable the company to invest US$3.3 million in equipment replacement and improvement at the NPA.
He added that although the agreement mandates them to increase tariff every year; he however pointed out that they have not increased tariff for three years during the last five years including 2020, due to the coronavirus pandemic which drastically affected the country’s economy, noting that the latest increment has no significant impact on local commodities as had been insinuated in the public space.
The APM Terminal CFO and Acting MD further disclosed that in 2017, as per the agreement, the APM Terminal gave the government through the NPA US$7,114 million out of the total revenue generated in the tune of US$58, 8275 something which he said is even more than their profit of US$1,818, emphasizing, “Even in 2019, we did pay the NPA US$14 million out of the revenue generated and that money was again more than our profit.”
However, contrary to the APM Acting MD assertion, the NPA MD, Bill Tweahway described the concession agreement signed between the government and the APM as the worst concession in the history of the country something which he said is not in the interest of the citizenry.
“Hon. Speaker, Deputy Speaker and Members of this Honorable body, to be clear, this concession between the APM and the government is very bad and not in the interest of our citizens and as such, there is an urgent need for this august body to amend and review this agreement,” MD Tweahway cautioned.
He added, “This agreement is not good at all because how will we sign an agreement that gives one company the sole authority to increase total suffering on our people for their own self-benefit? There is an urgent need for revision by you because it is only you as our lawmakers that have that authority to review this document.”
MD Tweahway however further clarified that although the agreement calls for a mutual agreement between the NPA and the APM before any increment is made; he said, “The NAP has no saying in this agreement by the APM and in fact, I have written them on several occasions telling them not to increase or adjust any tariff but yet they did it without my approval.”
Dillon Wants AmendmentsIn Code Of Conduct …As House Reverses APM New Tariff
By Alex Yomah & Bill W. Cooper