Speech Delivered by Hon. Dr. Bhofal Chambers
Speaker of the 54thLegislature, and House of Representatives,On the Opening of the 2nd Session of the Legislature, Monday, January 14, 2019.
My Distinguished Colleagues:
We gather here today on this second working Monday in this year, 2019, in respect and fulfillment of the People’s mandate with reference to Article 32 of our Constitution. Today, we once more have gathered in the spirit of truedemocracy and patriotism.As we commence this second session of the 54thLegislature, I am humble in spirit and in deeds to working with you all in the best interest of our People.The First Session of the 54th Legislature brought 43 newMembers, and retained 30 old Members, following the 2017 GeneralElections. I believe that such development, in our democratic culture, is on the right course and by this, we can agree that our electorates do take due cognizance of our workings as Lawmakers.
As the year 2019 endures, it is my hope that we, theLegislators, brace ourselves for the challenges ahead. Our constituents and variousconstituencies which have placed this huge public trust on us, expect a lot out of us in their desire to have good laws and for us to exercise our functions to the best of our abilities in their best interest, so that the plans and promises intended for them come to fruition.
Distinguished Colleagues, the 2018 session of the 54th Legislature, our House of Representatives recorded 57 regular sittings, 43 executive sittings, 6 special sittings and 15 extraordinary sittings, thus totaling 121sittings during our session in 2018.
Also, during the year 2018, we were able to pass 26 bills and 8 resolutions in the best interest of the Liberian people. Amongst those bills and resolutions we acted on, 9 originated from the House of Representatives, 5 bills were received from the Liberian Senate and concurred with; 12 bills were passed out of 17 bills originating from the Executive and 8 legislative resolutions were acted on. It is equally important to note that, during the year 2018, the House of Representatives successfully conducted 13 Public Hearings.
In line with legislative best practice, it is our hope that bills and resolutions pending in committee room, which account for 53 in total, will be properly scrutinizedfor prompt Plenary’s action. Amongst those bills in committee room, it is worth mentioning that we have 30 bills from the House of Representatives, our House, 4 bills from the Liberian Senate, and 5 bills from the Executive. Other pieces of documents awaiting legislative actions are 10 petitions and 4 resolutions.
Distinguished Colleagues, in 2018, some of our Colleagues opted to be elected to the Liberian Senate for Montserrado and Bong Counties to fill the vacancies created following the Presidential Election victory of Sen. Dr. George M. Weah, now President, and Sen. Jewel Howard-Taylor, now Vice President, respectively..
The results of that special election to fill the vacancies at the Liberian Senate led to Hon. Saah Harding Joseph’s victory as Senator of Montserrado County, thus creating a vacancy in the House of Representatives.
Subsequently, a bi-election was conducted to fill the vacancy in the House was done in District 13,Montserrado County for Hon. Joseph’s replacement.
Distinguished Colleagues, following the bi-election in Montserrado District 13, the National Elections Commission announced victory in favor of Hon. Edward P. Flomo who will be officially sworn in office on tomorrow to fill the vacancy. Let me use this medium also to express my sincere gratitude to God Almighty for keeping us alive to fulfill our respective purposes, in accordance with our constitutional assignments.I am pleased to further inform you that, during the year 2018 we all have stately surmounted our various challenges, thus restoring dignity to this august body.
Let me also inform you that during the period 2018, the House of Representatives enjoyed an enhanced level of cordiality with the Liberian Senate, which has eluded this Legislature in the past.
Liberia, unarguably, is a country of laws. And it is no doubt evidenced by the fact that we, as a Legislature, are peacefully co-existing with the other branches of government, conscious of our constitutional margins conducting government business with the optimum acceptable standards of respectability.
During the year 2018, the Honorable House of Representatives was presented with some hard facts on a sitting Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of Liberia, which detailed abuse of office and several violations of the principles upon which the laws of our land are based. Having exhaustively deliberated on the matter surrounding the Associate Justice, the Honorable House of Representatives proceeded to pass an Impeachment Bill by a majority vote and forwarded same to the Liberian Senate for trial.
Distinguished Colleagues, the year 2018 had its challenges as it relates to the culture of democracy. The Liberian people woke up to a few unsubstantiated declarations surrounding printed monies in the amount of 10.5 billion Liberian dollars. The House of Representatives convened an extraordinary session weeks after it closed for its annual break in consonance with our organic law, the Constitution, to discuss the issue and find a remedy. It was concluded based on the facts that the Central Bank of Liberia Executives and Board Members acted in total disregard to the constitution; it printed the 10.5 billion Liberian dollars without any legislative authorization. They flagrantly flouted the law…
During the year 2018, as Speaker of this Honorable House,I entertained several guests for and on behalf of the House of Representatives; those guests included the Speaker of the ECOWAS Parliament, the Majority Leader of the Chinese Parliament, the United States Ambassador to Liberia, the British Ambassador, the Special Representative and Head of the United Nations Office for West Africa (UNOWA), the Qatari Ambassador to Liberia, Representatives of the African Union, the South African Ambassador, the Moroccan Parliamentary President, UNICEF (Country Director), the United Nations Country Representative and many others.
Distinguished Colleagues, as we inaugurate this year’s session legislatively, it is my fervent hope and prayer that we treat our offices as a public trust, by uprightly upholding and respecting the principles and spirit of representative democracy, and setting positive examples of responsible citizenship.
Finally, let it be made abundantly clear that this Legislature will ensure that harmony and coordination with the other branches of government will be a priority. At the same time, it will be our duty to fully support the Pro-Poor Agenda under the leadership of His Excellency, Dr. George MannehWeah, President of the Republic of Liberia and we will always be prepared to offer suggestions for alternative programs, policies through dialogue or enact laws so that the best interest of our people is served.
May God Almighty bless us all and continue to sanctify this noble CHAMBERS.
I thank you.