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IREDD Describes Budget
Performance Report As Ghost
…Releases Legislative Scored Card

By Alex Yomah
The Institute for Research and Democratic Development (IREDD), one of the leading policy research advocacy institutions, has released its legislative monitoring report covering the period from January –June 2021 under the caption: “Is the Liberian Legislature working for the people or for the President?”
In the budget performance category, IREDD Executive Director, Matthias M. Yeanay says, budget performance reports from Line Ministries and Agencies at the Legislature remains a serious ghost.
The report says, Legislature is not instilling penalties on head of these ministries and agencies, stating, a total of four budget performance reports were obtained at the Liberian Legislature from various Line Ministries and Agencies of the Government.
According to the report, reports were obtained from offices of the Chief Clerk and the Secretariat of the Liberian Senate of that report, IREDD obtained two Agencies of the government budget performance report during the reporting period and these reports were submitted during the special proposed budget for the fiscal month of July to December 2021.
In that report, the Ministry of Transport Budget performance report covered the month of January to June (Fiscal year 2020-2021) while the National Police Budget performance report covered fiscal year 2020.
IREDD has made tremendous effort to obtain the rest of the Agencies’ budget performance reports but was unable to obtain none. The Budget law and the Constitution of Liberia state that Line Ministries and Agencies should submit quarterly and annual budget performance report to the Liberian Legislature, Sadly; Line Ministries and Agencies have been grossly violating the budget law and constitution.
Commenting on the Legislative budget office and legal drafting center at the Legislature, IREDD observed that the Legislative budget office and the legal drafting center are very weak and this is due to what IREDD termed as limited budget and logistical support.
“Legislators are not regularly updating the Legislative information service thus creating a huge challenge of the public to access near real time Legislations that are passed and pending at the Legislature. These factors also undermine Legislative transparency and promote closed governance system that leads to corruption,” IREDD Executive Director criticized.
IREDD Holds the Liberian Legislature accountable most especially individual Legislators relating to decision-making which has become a challenge to the public including CSOs due to the breakdown of voting machine. Adding, “Citizens are unable to hold their elected leaders accountable due to the lack of voting machine at the Legislature,”
The report added that the offices of the Secretary of the Senate and the Chief Clerk of the Liberian Legislature faced huge challenges of the needed logistics to effectively operate and meet the demand of the Legislature and the public.
“This situation does not only affect the Legislature, but it greatly affects the public most especially those who visit the Legislature to obtain information. The Secret sessions have become a regular component of plenary sessions. Very crucial agenda items are discussed in closed door. This situation also continues to undermine Legislative accountability and transparency and creates information gaps and doubt on the minds of the public,” IREDD said.
Adding, “For instance, the replacement of the Liberian Dollars was discussed in secret sessions and confirmation of public officials are also carried out in secrete sessions. Based on best parliamentary practices, Secret Sessions are intended for state security related matters but what has the confirmation of presidential nominees get to do with State Security issue?” the report indicated.
IREDD report further revealed that the Legislature which is considered as the first branch of government is packed with dark cloud with the lack of transparency and accountability evidence by the lack of voting machine and continuous secret sessions. In view of the foregoing, the Legislature which monitors the Executive Branch of government is not transparent; therefore the executive branch of government is also not transparent in-Service delivery to the Liberian people evident of the lack of budget performance reports.
IREDD added that the County Service Centers (CSC) are nearly closing but the Liberian Legislature has not been able to address the situation but was able to allocate thirty thousand (30,000) for each Legislators in the National Budget neglecting national and communities’ interest for development.
Adding, “These acts of the Legislature undermine national development and sadly promote individual legislators’ political interest above their electorates. IREDD believes that the Liberian Legislature needs to take prompt actions that address citizen’s interest and national development.”
IREDD says it monitored and observed that the fragmented and neglect of statutory functions by committees, especially their failure to carry out due diligence on individuals appointed into government prior to confirming them, and their non-insistence to have a quarterly review on annual budgetary performance are factors that hamper productivity across government.
“From the Monitoring, it is noticed that performance reports are submitted during the budget hearing period as a means to justify funding for the new fiscal year. The period is so short, leaving committees the burden of most times not acting from informed decisions.”
“The weakening of political institutions within the legislature can be attributed to the placement of interests above duty by members and the frequent cross-carpeting within the political parties leaves their platforms vague since members who should be championing a party’s cause relatively take on different course upon joining new parties,” the report indicated.
“Obtaining participatory votes on issue remains a challenge to the monitoring. No tracking machines installed in the “chamber” that hosts plenary in the new building making it quite difficult to record names of who voted through a “Nay”, “Yea” response”.
“The circulation of unsigned committee reports for plenary endorsement against existing rules of having all reports signed a day prior to a session day. Most of the Committee reports are signed in Plenary. This is against standing rules of the House”
“Most Acts submitted to Plenary do not go through all the required reading procedures. The first reading constitutes the second as well depending on the interest attached, some bills overstay in committee room, while others are addressed hastily. This is evident by the number of bills passed for the Quarter 2021”.
“IREDD’s monitoring revealed that during the period, there was no report submitted to the plenary from the ECOWAS Team; this means Legislators only attended regular ECOWAS Committee meetings, but they failed to submit comprehensive report during their deliberations at such meeting. This highlights the lack of financial accountability of taxpayers’ monies by legislators”.
“While the House functions through committees, it has been observed that the Speaker is in the business of setting up special committees to perform the duties of statutory committees. This situation has caught the attention of legislators, who have argued that existing committees should rather be empowered to perform their oversight functions. For example, the committee on rules, orders and administration should investigate every matter but investigative committees are set up in its presence,”
“IREDD recognizes the efforts made by the Liberian Senate through our advocacy over the years in reducing the number of secret sessions (executive sessions) and moving from a “Nay Yea” voting to a manual vote taking with calling of names. However, IREDD calls on the legislature to reintroduce and make use of the electronic voting machines installed at both houses. IREDD will also like to call on the House of Representatives to follow suit to improve legislative openness, transparency and accountability at the legislature,” IREDD monitored and observed.
IREDD Under the theme: “Lawmaker`s Watch”, covers the period of January to June 2021 and reveals findings from all the 47/46 sessions held at the House of Representatives and the Liberian Senate respectively.
Consistent with its objectives, IREDD intent for the Monitoring is to contribute toward greater transparency and democratic accountability in Liberia in ways that ensure the Pro-poor policy formulation for improved development outcomes.
This Monitoring report focuses on three areas in which lawmakers have constitutional traditional mandate to execute their formal responsibilities in the interest of their constituents and the country.
Further, a thorough description of each measure is provided by this report as it raises caveats that are important when considering the performance of lawmakers.
It includes the full set of scores for each lawmaker, presented on general report card. Finally, the report describes the Legislature’s overall performance relative to its fundamental responsibilities.
“We limited our coverage of these responsibilities to key legislative functions that could be easily captured during plenary sessions which are often open to the public,” IREDD said.
During the period under review (January-June 2021), the following observations and findings were noted and recorded:
Plenary Sessions:
A total of 47 plenary sessions were recorded at the House of Representatives which comprises of 44 regular and 3 special plenary sessions.
Meanwhile at the Liberian Senate, a total of 46 plenary sessions were recorded consisting of 44 regular and 2 special plenary sessions.
Performance on plenary attendance:
A total of two thousand, fifty (2050) present times were recorded at the House of Representatives while a total of nine hundred, six (906) present times were recorded at the Liberian Senate.
According to IREDD grades, a total of four representatives obtained A’ which represents 5% while nine representatives obtained F’ which represents 13%.
Similarly, eight Senators obtained A’ which constitutes 28% while three senators obtained D’ which constitutes 10%.
The Representatives who obtained A’ in plenary attendance at the House of Representatives include Hon. Larry P. Younquoi of Nimba County, UP; Hon. Sampson D. Wiah of Sinoe County, CDC; Hon. Ivan K. Jones of Margibi County IND, now CDC.
Representatives who obtained F in plenary attendance include, Hon. Lawrence Morris of Montserrado, IND, Hon. Rustonlyn S. Dennis Montserrado County, LTP, Samuel Regen Enders of Montserrado County, IND, Yekeh Y. Kolubah, IND, Abu B. Kamara of Montserrado, CDC, Abraham V. Corneh, CDC, Mary M. Karyor of Grand Bassa County, Nathaniel Bahway Sr. of Montserrado County, LINU and Alex Chersia Grant of Grand Gedeh County, CDC.
Meanwhile at the Senate, senators who obtained A’ in plenary attendance include, Sen. Prince K. Moye of Bong County of UP, Sen. Emmanuel Nuquah of Margibi County, PUP, Sen. Augustine S. Chea of Sinoe County, UP, Sen. Jonathan B. Sogbe of Rivergee County, Sen. Numene T. H. Bartekwa of Grand Kru County, INDP, Sen. Botoe Kanneh of Gbarpolu County, INDEP and Sen. James P. Biney of Maryland County, INDP.
Senators who obtained D’ in plenary attendance include Sen. Jonathan Kaipay of Grand Bassa County, LP, Sen. Stephen J. H. Zargo Lofa County, LP, Sen. Marshal A. Dennis Grand Gedeh County, CDC and Sen. Edwin Melvin Snowe of Bomi County, INDP.
The House of Representatives obtained the total of eight hundred and ninety-two (892) absent times during the period.
Hon. Clarence G. Garr of Margibi County, CDC obtained 29 the highest absent times. Others include Hon. Manah Bishop Johnson obtained 27 absent times due to illness and Hon. Rustonlyn S. Dennis, IND of Montserrado County obtained 26 absent times.
At the Liberian Senate, a total of seventy-three (73) absent times were obtained. Sen. Prince Y. Johnson obtained the highest of 12 absent times.
A total of one hundred sixty-nine (169) distant times were obtained at the House of Representatives with Hon. Nathaniel Bahway of Grand Kru County obtaining the highest of 11 distant times while at the Liberian Senate, a total of sixty-nine (69) distant times were obtained.
Sen. Stephen Zargo, LP of Lofa County obtained the highest distant times of 14 and followed by Sen. Jonathan Kaipay of Grand Bassa County who obtained 13 distant times.
A total of forty (40) excuse times at the Liberian Senate were recorded. Sen. Nyonblee K. Lawrence, LP of Grand Bassa County and Sen. Marshall Dennis, CDC of Grand Gedeh County Obtained the highest excuse times, both were seemed excused 10 times.
At the House of Representatives, a total of 10 excuse times were obtained with Hon. Lawrence Morris obtaining the highest of 5 excuse times.
A total of twenty-nine (29) Sick times were obtained at the Liberian Senate. Sen. Francis PAYE, NDC of Rivercess County obtained the highest Sick times. He was pronounced sick twenty-two times up to the compilation of this report.
At the House of Representatives, a total of fifty-five (55) sick times were obtained. Hon. Hans Barchue, IND of Grand Bassa County obtained the highest sick times, he was pronounced Sick 38 times and was followed by Hon. Alexander Poure, ALP of Rivergee County, also obtained 11 sick times.
In Debate:
A total of one thousand, six hundred, six (1606) participation times were recorded at the Senate and five hundred eighty-one (581) participation times were recorded at the House of Representatives.
Senator J. Milton Teajay, UP of Sinoe County obtained the highest participation times. He spoke 183 times. Others with high participation marks include: Abraham D. Dillon, LP spoke 155 times, Sen. J. Gbleh Bo Brown, IND of Maryland County Spoke 110 times and Sen. Daniel Flomo Naateh, ANC, Gbarpolu County also spoke 111 times.
Conversely, four Senators obtained the lowest in plenary partcipation. Those Senators include Sen. James P. Binney, CDC of Maryland County obtained 12, Sen. Marshall Dennis, CDC of Grand Gedeh County obtained 17, Sen. Henrique Togba, and IND of Bong County obtained 8 and Sen. Jeremiah Koung, MDR of Nimba County obtained 10 in plenary participation times.
At the House of Representatives, four Representatives obtained the highest participation times. Hon. Matthew ZarZar, UP of Sinoe County spoke 42 times. Others include Hon. Ivar K. Jones, IND of Margibi County spoke 37 times, Larry Younquoi, UP of Nimba County also spoke 37 and Hon. Moima Brings Mensah, IND of Bong County spoke 25 times respectively.
Contrarily, Hon Edward P Flomo IND Montserrado, Hon Abu Kamara CDC of Montserrado, Hon Josepeh M. Matthew Jr. IND of Gbapolu, Hon. Jonathan Fonati Koffa CDC of Grand Kru and Hon Manah Bishop Johnson CDC of Bomi did not speak at all during the period under review among others.

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