House Oversight Weakens As Tenure Draws To A Close
By Wilfred S. Gortor
MONROVIA, March 29 (LINA) - It seems that the House of Representatives is losing its relevance as efforts by the body in recent times to exercise its oversight responsibility has been met with disrespect and resistance.
Some members of the House of Representatives have attributed the unfolding events to the general and presidential elections scheduled for October this year, while others are contending that the body's legislative clutches no longer hold because the tenure of the 53rdLegislature is to elapse soon.
"Most of these entities of government are disrespecting us and don't want to comply with our instructions because our time is about to expire," Montserrado County Representative Solomon George said Tuesday during regular session of the House of Representatives.
George’s statement was made against the backdrop that several committees of the House complained to plenary on Tuesday that, in recent days, they are unable to attract the full cooperation of other institutions of government as they strive to carry out their committees’ functions.
In a communication addressed to House Speaker Emmanuel Nuquay, Montserrado County District #4 Representative Henry Fahnbulleh reported "utter disrespect" shown to the House's committee on Contracts, Concessions, Public Procurement and Monopoly by the interim management team of the Liberia Electricity Corporation (LEC).
Fahnbulleh informed the body that the committee, which he chairs, requested the LEC in several communications from December 2016 to March this year, to present to the committee its cash and procurement plans, quarterly reports as well as contracts signed, but the LEC has failed to even respond to any of the communications.
He disclosed that the committee's request to the LEC grew out of a list containing 29 Main Budget -Line Entities and Non-Budget Line State-Owned Enterprises, presented to the Legislature by the Public Procurement and Concessions Commission (PPCC).
According to Fahnbulleh, the entities in question as informed by the PPCC, were found to be non-compliant with the PPCC Act, something in the wisdom of the committee needed to be addressed through the hosting of public hearings.
"The committee through the office of the Chief Clerk wrote the entities for information to commence public hearings. Some entities are providing information; however, the LEC deliberately ignored the committee's request, “ Fahnbulleh noted.
He sees such act by the LEC interim management team as not only an attempt to stall the committee's work, but to also undermine the authority of Plenary by creating a false impression that it is a "super entity" and as such cannot be brought under the House's oversight.
Among other complaints of similar non-compliant posture, Nimba County
Representative Garrison Yealue informed the body that the management of the National Housing Authority has also failed to provide the committee on State Enterprises and Public Autonomous Agency with information to facilitate investigation being conducted by the committee.
Although the House has mandated the office of the Chief Clerk, to summon the concerned entities to appear before it on next week Thursday, several members of the House during the discussion, placed strong emphasis on the fact that the body needs to reinforce its strategies on oversight, especially as the 53rd Legislature nears its end.