President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf is calling on all three branches of government to commit to mutual respect, support and interaction as they collectively work to improve the lives of the Liberian people and the image of the country.
“As you commence today the arduous task of being responsive to your constitutional mandate, and particularly in these challenging times, I trust and I commit that we will have mutual respect, support and interaction by all three branches of government as we collectively work to improve the lives of our people and the image of our country,” the Liberian leader said, urging all branches to commit to these principles as they go forward.
According to an Executive Mansion release, President Sirleaf made the brief comments at the formal opening of the 3rd Session and the 3rd Sitting of the 53rd Legislature held at the Rotunda of the Capitol Building on Monday, January 13.
President Sirleaf reminded the 53rd Legislature that in two weeks, the fourth working Monday in January, she will back at that August venue to present to them the Executive Branch’s proposed Legislative Agenda and to report on the State of the Nation in keeping with the Constitution.
In his remarks earlier, the Speaker of the House of Representative, Honorable J. Alexander Tyler, is proposing that appropriations in the National Budget for infrastructural development, including roads, clinics, among others should be approved in a bulk -pack figure and the implementation of each project identified be clearly and specifically vetted on a project-by-project basis and approved by the Legislature before final appropriation and implementation is made.
He further proposed, for Plenary approval and the Senate concurrence, that US$73 million be placed in the 2014/2015 National Budget for direct District/County Impact Projects which, he said, should be separate and distinct from the County Development Funds.
Speaker Tyler said the proposals were necessary because of what they (lawmakers) saw and experienced during their tour of the country when they had the opportunity, during their agricultural break, to consult on the oil and gas proposed laws with citizens across the country.
He indicated this is one of the ways that much needed development can reach and impact the people in rural Liberia.
“The deplorable roads and bridges cry desperately for attention; poor health sector needing a fix, even a band-aid would do; and school lacking the most basic facilities that would qualify them to bear the name schools,” Speaker Tyler observed during the tour of rural Liberia.
He emphasized that some of the conditions of the places visited were so appalling that the plight of the people could not go unnoticed. “I can now openly confess having toured the country, towns and villages during the consultations, that in my candid opinion, previous budgets in which appropriations were made for infrastructure, those budgets had not significantly impacted the rural parts of the country,” Tyler said.
Another caveat Speaker Tyler mention was that in the 2013/2014 National Budget, US$5 million was appropriated for District Direct Impact Projects to be implemented through the Executive for the benefit of our people, who in their entire life have not felt the influence of Government. “These projects are essential to the welfare of our people and we shall employ our diligence and energy to see that each project reach its completion,” Speaker Tyler stressed, noting that the House of Representatives is prepared to work with the Executive Branch and Senate colleagues to ensure a scrupulous implementation of the rest of fiscal year 2013/2014.
Speaker Tyler stressed that henceforth the National Budget should be a marriage of the Legislative, Executive and Judicial priorities ensuring that each branch is protected in the exercise of its Constitutional mandate.
He promised to maintain cooperation and collaboration with the Executive and Judicial Branches of Government. “To this end, we send a message of assurance to Her Excellency, Madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and to His Honor Francis Korkpor, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court,” he said and also assuring the public, media, civil society organizations and political parties that as their representatives, they will remain available for dialogue and constructive engagements al all times.
Welcoming his colleagues back to the Capitol, he reminded them of the great expectations of the Liberian people – the heavy burden of crafting laws intended to promote justice, equity and peace among all peoples and creating a noble and blessed society in which all Liberians should regard each other as brothers and sisters and fellow Liberians.
He said returning from their much deserved break, there are a number of outstanding issues from the last Session which they intend to tackle including new ones which will present themselves. On outstanding bills in committee rooms, before Plenary and with the Senate, Speaker Tyler named the Decent Work Bill, Code of Conduct Bill, the Level Playing Field Bill, and the Petroleum Oil and Gas Reform Sector Bill.
President Pro-Tempore of the Senate, Honorable Gbehzongar Findley, for his part, urged his colleagues to put aside the bickering, jealousy, and deceit among themselves if they intend to improve the lives of the Liberian people. “We are not here by our choice but by the choice of our people and that choice is to pass laws, exercise oversight responsibility, and constituent responsibility to improve the lives of the Liberian people,” he said.
Senator Findley challenged his colleagues to work together to pass laws that will improve the lives of the Liberian people and that those laws in respective committee rooms should be expeditiously handled at the earliest to bring relief to the people of Liberia.
President Pro-Tempore Findley, who admitted to challenges, urged his colleagues to respect one another and understand the duties and responsibilities of the two Houses. “Only then can we have a vibrant Legislature; only then can we make the dreams of our people for a peaceful Liberia, a loving Liberia, a Liberia with hope for a future for generations to come,” he said.