The Plenary of the House of Representatives has voted for the ratification of an Act seeking to prohibit the Tenure of Public Officials within the Executive Branch of government.
A total of 22 representatives voted in favour, while 10 voted against and three abstained from the vote to ratify the Act which was forwarded to the National Legislature on November 6 by President George Manneh Weah.
As passed by the House of Representatives on Thursday at its 13th Day Sitting of the Extraordinary Session, the General Auditing Commission (GAC), National Elections Commission (NEC) and the Central Bank of Liberia (CBL) are exempted from the prohibition and their tenures remain in force.
The Joint Committee on Good Governance, Government Reform and Judiciary, in a report to the House prior to the passage of the Act, affirmed that the required constitutional processes and legislative due diligence were closely followed during its evaluation of the legislation which is additionally intended to correct the inadequate and inconsistent manner in which the legislature over the years awarded tenure to government institutions.
Representative Kanie Wesso, who is Co-chair on the House’s Judiciary Committee, in his submission of the report, disclosed that the joint committee held a public hearing where several institutional heads from the Ministry of Justice, GAC, National Lottery Authority, Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission and the Liberia Revenue Authority, among others, rendered their expert opinions on how the Act should be formulated.
Since the submission of the Act by President Weah, there have been debates in the public space about the true intent of the law, although proponents of the Act have contended that it is intended to enhance the governance system of the Weah-led government.
Some members of the lower House, who voted against the Act, opined that the law seeks to put the President in an imperial position, those who voted in favor of the law, argued that even if all tenure positions are maintained, the Constitution still gives the President the authority to appoint heads of the various entities and, as such, the Act will adequately enhance the governance system of the country.
In its recommendation, the joint committee proposed that the Act be renamed, “Tenure in Governance Act.”
The committee also suggested that the tenure for all integrity institution, including Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission and Public Procurement Concession Commission, be revisited in separate legislation in accordance with Article 35 of the Constitution of the Republic of Liberia to the extent that international protocols or conventions to which Liberia has acceded call for such tenure.
The Act has, meanwhile, been forwarded to the Liberian Senate for its concurrence.