Big Trouble: Rep. Clarence Gahr Alarms Foul Play in National Budget…Insist Recall

Jun 7, 2024 - 07:47
Jun 7, 2024 - 07:49
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Big Trouble: Rep. Clarence Gahr Alarms Foul Play in National Budget…Insist Recall

By: William K. Howard

Capitol Hill: Thursday, June 6, edition of the second sitting of the 55th legislature was a scene of panic for lawmakers when Margibi county district #5 and head of that august body committee’s chair on Public Accounts alarmed alleged altering (Fingering) of its agreement during the 2024 budget debate that was attached to the 2024 Budget and send to the Senate.

Few days later after receiving the budget from the executive, both the House and Liberian Senate unanimously passed the 2024 budget in the tone of US$738, 859, 827.00 with a serious warning to heads of government ministries, agencies, state-owned enterprises, and corporations to fully execute plans and programs funded from the budget for the benefit of the people of Liberia in more professional and accountable way. 

One main agreement that was voted and agreed upon was that; wherever there was the Legislative Budget Office (LBO), such should be replaced with the house’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC).

But during Thursday June 6 session, Margibi county district #5 Representative raised concerns regarding said recommendation that it did not reflect the intended changes, (From LBO to PAC) in the final printed version of the budget.

The house journal shows that unanimous vote was taken during the budget deliberation that the budget law are written LBO (Legislative Budget Office, and it should be automatically replaced with PAC (Public accounts Committee", but unfortunately, the printed copy of the approved budget and the recommendations still carried the Legislative Budget Office (LBO) to supervise how monies allotted to ministries and Agencies are used.

Margibi County District #5 Representative Clarence Gahr chair of the House’s Public Account and Expenditure Committee (PAC), raised the concern, highlighting the importance of upholding integrity and transparency regarding legislative decisions. The financial expert letter of complaint to plenary said the house’s decision was Altered (Changed) during the final stage and signing of the 2024 national budget, thus making the budget in its entirety voidable.

Rep. Gahr has therefore insisted that the national budget be recall, review so the proper thing can be done arguing that his committee is charged to ensure proper accountability of government expenditure and LBO being placed in the annual budget and not the PAC is in total contradiction of the laws of Liberia.

‘’ We cannot call ourselves an integrity body and do things differently. We must act now to avoid future Embarrassment, I believe in the interest of the citizens of Liberia and do not care who will be affected” Gahr expressed.

The Margibi district #5 lawmaker was backed by many colleagues, one of which is Margibi county district #2 Ivar Jones and Rep. Jacob Debee who thanked Representative for bringing such key information to their attention.

Rep. Jones and Debee noted that such action is a total disservice to the Liberian populace, stating the need for a recall of the 2024 national budget.

They were followed by Nimba county district #5 lawmaker Samuel Kogar who advised plenary that those who signature the budget be investigated before any further action by the 55th Legislature.

Meanwhile, a motion was filed by Margibi county district #2 representative Ivar K. Jones that the communication be sent to leadership, those he say will now probe into the matter and report to plenary in the soonest possible time.

Below is the full text of his communication to Plenary:

With Compliments, I write to request that the honorable House of Representatives Recall the National Budget for illegal alterations in the Budget law.

Mr. Speaker, Deputy Speaker and Distinguish Colleagues, it can be recalled that at the end of the 2024 national budget deliberations, a motion was made by Hon. James Kolleh of District #2, Bong County in which he stated "where all in the 2024 National Budget law are written LBO (Legislative Budget Office, it should be automatically replaced with PAC (Public accounts Committee", which was unanimously voted upon by majority members and subsequently passed by this august body for execution.

Mr. Presiding, Deputy Presiding, Distinguish Colleagues, it will surprise you to note that at the final stage and signing of the 2024 national Budget, the law was sent without these amendments of plenary altering the decision of the Honorable House of Representatives thus making the 2024 National Budget voidable in its entirety.

Mr. Presiding, Co-Presiding, Distinguish Colleagues, if decisions are not taken now as a way of setting precedents, I fear that many laws have been or may be temper with in the future as it has the propensity to besmear and damage the image and integrity of the Honorable House of representatives.

Mr. Presiding, Co-Presiding, Distinguish Colleagues I crave your indulgent to RECALL the 2024 National

Budget in the best interest of protecting the image and integrity of the 55th National Legislature.

Mr. Presiding, Co-Presiding, Distinguish Colleagues I look forward to you timely intervention in the best interest of our nation, MAMA LIBERIA.

Best regards,

Clarence G. Gahr (Hon.)

Representative

Dist. No#5, Margibi County

55th National Legislature

Republic of Liberia

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William K Howard William K Howard Jr is a young Liberian Journalist who is focused on investigative and human-interest reporting. He comes with about 10 years of experience in mainstream journalism. William K Howard is currently the Deputy Director of News at CT.com Liberia Limited, Kool 91.9FM/TV. His hard work has also earned him several professional certificates in journalism including Journalist of the year 2022/2023 in Liberia's biggest city, Paynesville.