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Saturday, July 13, 2024

SENATE DEFENDS BUCHANAN RETREAT AMIDST CRITICISM OVER US$700,000 CONTROVERSY

Date:

MONROVIA – Following mounting criticism over the Senate retreat held in Buchanan, Grand Bassa County, the leadership of the Liberian Senate, led by Pro Tempore Sen. Nyonblee Karnga-Lawrence, issued a press release to address the controversy surrounding the retreat’s expenses. The release aimed to clarify the misconceptions and misrepresentations circulating in various media outlets regarding the cost and intent of the retreat.

Purpose and Cost of the Retreat

The retreat, attended by 108 individuals including Senators, security personnel, drivers, support staff, protocol officials, directors of departments, the retreat secretariat, and facilitators, was organized with the goal of setting the Senate’s legislative agenda. The focus was on transparency and accountability, audits of the Senate, decentralization of the budget, digitization of the Senate, and the review of Senate rules, among other objectives.

Contrary to the exaggerated figures reported by some individuals and media entities, the Liberian Senate stated that the total cost of the four-day retreat was $50,000 USD. This amount covered:

– Accommodation for all attendees

– Rental of conference halls

– Catering services

– Daily subsistence allowances (DSAs) for all support staff (excluding the Senators)

– Transportation

– Secretariat services

– Security arrangements

The Senate leadership unequivocally stated that the retreat’s expenses were prudently managed and did not exceed the specified budget of $50,000. They challenged any individual or entity in possession of credible evidence to the contrary to come forward with their information.

Call for Ethical and Balanced Reporting

While the Senate recognizes and respects the vital role of the media as the watchdog of society, it stressed the importance of executing this role with the highest standards of professionalism, ethics, and accuracy. Irresponsible and inflammatory reporting, the Senate noted, undermines the credibility of the media and has the potential to sow unnecessary confusion and discord.

The Senate urged all media practitioners to adhere to the principles of balanced and fair reporting. Accurate journalism is crucial for maintaining public trust and fostering an informed citizenry. The Senate remains committed to transparency and accountability and welcomes constructive dialogue and legitimate scrutiny from the media.

The Senate leadership expressed appreciation for the public’s interest in its activities and reiterated its dedication to serving the people of Liberia with integrity and responsibility. They remain open to engaging with the media and the public to provide clarity and ensure that accurate information is disseminated.

Public Reactions

The public’s response to the Senate’s press release was immediate and varied. Eddie D. Jarwolo stated, “Please make the budget public so that we can get more information on how to get started and ended. Thank YOU, #AccountabilityMatters.”

Jubs Nel commented, “Good job Madam, but for the sake of misinformation, let this information be given prior to the retreat. People seeking relevance might twist it wrongly to the public.”

Hon. Peter C. Dorkpoh Jr. added, “Do for us the breakdown of the 50k if truly you serious. Also, when are you changing this seal Madam Sen. Nyonblee Karnga-Lawrence?”

Anthony S. Konuwa questioned, “You want us to believe that the supporting staffs received sitting allowances and the senators didn’t? You people are right. We told our people but they refused to listen.”

Gabriel T. Saah expressed his concerns, “If you are too particular about ethics in the professionalism of media reporting, be sincere to make the public aware of the actual budget. This is not what we voted for. This is Sad! Corruption is taking its root again. This country is old for this and we expect you to be the change we can start with positively.”

Sweetie Smith voiced her skepticism, “Was the retreat necessary at this time with a terrible economy? 50,000 is still too much. Too many needy people in Liberia. My thoughts.”

The mixed reactions highlight the public’s demand for greater transparency and accountability from their elected officials. The Senate’s leadership has taken a step towards addressing these concerns, but the call for detailed budget breakdowns and more proactive communication remains strong among the populace.

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Smart News Liberia is an online news outlet and a product of Smart Media Group Inc. Our website, smartnewsliberia.com, covers a broad spectrum of news content. For inquiries or information, you can reach us at 0777425285 or 0886946925, or email us at smartnewsliberia@gmail.com or info@smartnewsliberia.com.

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