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Friday, July 19, 2024

TENSIONS RISE AS HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES STRUGGLES FOR FUNDING WHILE SENATE RECEIVES FINANCIAL PRIORITY

Date:

MONROVIA – In a striking revelation, Speaker of the 55th National Legislature, Cllr. J. Fonati Koffa, openly criticized the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning (MFDP) for prioritizing the Senate over the House of Representatives. This criticism surfaced on Tuesday, June 18, 2024, during a session that featured the appearance of Liberia Revenue Authority (LRA) Commissioner General Dorbor Jallah and officials from the Ministry of Finance. Speaker Koffa’s remarks highlighted a growing frustration within the House regarding the allocation of financial resources.

Speaker Koffa’s outburst highlighted a perceived imbalance in the treatment of the two legislative bodies, particularly in the context of recent financial allocations. The Senate, led by Pro Tempore Madam Nyonblee Karnga-Lawrence, reportedly received over $565,000 for a retreat, a move that was heavily criticized given Liberia’s ongoing economic difficulties. In contrast, the House of Representatives has struggled to secure funding for its own retreat, relying on NGOs for support.

“This situation is leading us to a dangerous conclusion,” Koffa stated, emphasizing the need for coordination among the branches of government. “I am disappointed. We in the House of Representatives are prepared to make any sacrifice necessary.” He further noted that despite reports from the LRA of significant progress in revenue generation, the Ministry of Finance’s claims of financial shortages seem inconsistent.

The Speaker’s comments pointed to a disparity in how the Senate and the House are treated. “If the Commissioner General of the LRA comes and says that the House is not performing, we would understand. But for him to report over-performance while the Senate is well taken care of, and the House has only two months of benefits and cannot even secure funds for a retreat, is unacceptable,” Koffa remarked.

In a pointed remark to the Minister of Finance, Speaker Koffa expressed his frustration, hinting at a possible contempt for the Minister’s appearance. This incident highlights the growing tension between the legislative and executive branches over resource allocation and fiscal management.

The House of Representatives’ struggle for adequate funding amidst reports of increased revenue collection raises serious questions about budgetary priorities and transparency within the Ministry of Finance. During the 2023 presidential election, Speaker Koffa and Pro Temp Karnga-Lawrence were on opposing sides, which some political commentators suggest might influence the current financial dynamics. Koffa, a member of the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC), campaigned for the CDC, while Karnga-Lawrence, a member of the Liberty Party (LP), supported the Unity Party (UP), which ultimately won, bringing President Joseph Boakai to power.

According to these commentators, the Senate’s preferential treatment may stem from Karnga-Lawrence’s close connection with the President, potentially leading to a constitutional crisis if the executive branch does not maintain impartiality. Liberians now keenly await the unfolding of this political conflict, which could have significant implications for the nation’s governance and financial management.

Socrates Smythe Saywon
Socrates Smythe Saywon is a Liberian journalist. You can contact me at 0777425285 or 0886946925, or reach out via email at saywonsocrates@smartnewsliberia.com or saywonsocrates3@gmail.com.

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