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Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Liberia: Senate Holds Retreat On Security, Finance & Taxation

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Parliaments around the world play a vital role in the democratization of states and the empowerment of their citizens. This underscores the critical need for legislators to maintain strong connections with their constituents.

However, this can be challenging in countries like Liberia, where poverty rates are high. Legislative-constituent connectivity is often hindered by a myriad of factors, leading to a disconnect between elected officials and their electorates. This disconnect, in turn, contributes to low turnover rates among legislators.

In Liberia, while voters in Montserrado County tend to elect candidates based on issues and policies, voters in other counties often prioritize candidates who promise “tangible development.” This preference has contributed to the dismal turnover rate in the Senate, with only 11 out of 60 sitting senators (18%) returning to the Senate in the previous election.

To address this and other challenges, the Liberian Senate under the 55th Legislature is working to develop a comprehensive roadmap agenda. As part of this effort, the Senate will embark on a four-day retreat in Buchanan, Grand Bassa County, beginning on Thursday, June 5, 2024.

During the retreat, senators will engage in a deep reflection on the state of the Senate and its operations. Key agenda items include:

* Reviewing and amending Senate rules

* Overhauling financial management systems and policies

* Revising the Senate’s reform agenda

* Addressing security and access control measures

* Exploring national compliance policies

* Discussing decentralization and modernization strategies

President Pro tempore Nyonblee Karnga Lawrence has assured her commitment to reforming the Senate and ensuring that it reflects the interests of the Liberian people. She has already directed the General Auditing Commission (GAC) to conduct a comprehensive review of the Senate’s financial system and establish a robust operating framework.

The retreat will also focus on strategies to enhance revenue generation, which senators believe is crucial for addressing the development priorities of their constituents. They will consider revitalizing the county development fund and exploring the potential of program-based budgeting for counties.

The GAC will present a report on financial reform management, while other topics to be discussed include the county development plan, revenue enhancement, Value Added Tax (VAT), compliance, resource extraction models, and the oversight of committees and institutions.

A working document will be prepared for future reference, and senators are expected to arrive in Buchanan on Thursday, June 6, and depart on Sunday, June 9.

 

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