By C. Winnie Saywah-Jimmy
Grand Bassa County Senator, NyonbleeKarnga-Lawrence, is requesting a detailed financial report so that senators understand the financial status of that august body before the new leadership takes over. In a communication to plenary yesterday at the 7th day sitting, Senator Karnga-Lawrence reminded the plenary that few years ago under the past leadership, the Liberian Senate requested the General Auditing Commission (GAC) to evaluate and put in place sound financial and management system.
She further said it is within the scope of that plenary to mandate the Secretary of the Senate to request its internal auditing agency to put in place sound financial management system for the effective and efficient operations of that body.
Her concerns were stemmed from the idea that 13 new senators have been included in the 4th Session of the 53rd Legislature and added that they along with the rest of the 15 senators have the right to getting a comprehensive understanding of the financial plan of the Liberian Senate.
The communication was not delved in further by the plenary because according to them their rules were clear on when to address financial matters or pertinent internal matters that are concerned with housekeeping, a motion all the lawmakers believe and got the full blessing of the plenary.
Senator Karnga-Lawrence said the communication is against the backdrop that the plenary is clear in making the Ways, Means and Finance Committee accountable therefore her concern is not to target anyone but the plenary’s mandate was to have its Finance Committee present a written report on the budget and financial activities of the Senate every three months, something which seemed not to have been done at all.
She said her objective is to ensure that the Senate puts in place proper accountability system and to do so, proper financial system is the way noting that if the senate’s internal audit and its Committee of Ways, Means and Finance were controlling that body’s financial system properly there would have been no need for raising any concern.
The Grand Bassa County Senator reminded her colleagues of Section 4(f) (g) of the Senate rule which states that “following the passage of the National Budget, the Ways, Means, Finance and Budget Committee should present to the Senate a comprehensive financial plan detailing appropriations per senator’s offices.”
However, the senators have been seated for 18 working days since the 4th session began and prior to the break, a national budget was passed covering July 1, 2014 to June 30, 2014 and apparently nothing as a financial plan has been submitted to any one senator for which the concern was raised.
Some senators who whisper in the corridors of the Legislature said those were some of the reasons why the Senate rule must be revisited so that it does not be just another guideline like committee report that never reaches plenary unless some interest is raised in that direction.
Meanwhile, in other legislative news, Bong County Senator, Jewel Howard-Taylor has informed plenary about the anti-Ebola trial vaccine that was brought into the country to be tried on Liberians without first making public its benefits in case of any eventuality.
Senator Taylor said while the news is welcoming, the details, protocols, procedures and safety regimes about trial are scarce for which at her level as a senator, she is yet to fully comprehend. She said, “It is imperative that we thoroughly know and understand how this process will be operationalized so as to be in a position to inform, educate and properly guard the rights of our people as they agree to be tested.”
She said already Liberians are being used as the ‘guinea pigs’ for a drug that has never been tried anywhere in Africa and therefore wondered about the insurance of those on whom it will be or has been tested already adding, “The vaccines have not been approved and have nothing to do with the Ministry of Health and even us as members of the Senate Committee on Health do not have the details.”
The Bong County senator said vaccines that are not proven always carry risks therefore we must know what the cost will be just in case someone dies or gets injured for life from the process noting, “Government did not provide the proper information and we cannot allow our citizens go in a land mine.”