Liberia: Senate Makes Major Gains Under Pro-Tempore Karnga-Lawrence Leadership One Month into Her Leadership

MONROVIA – In her first month as Pro Tempore of the Liberian Senate, Madam Nyonblee Karnga-Lawrence has hit the ground running with the announcement of several reforms and modernization plans intended to enhance accountability, research, oversight, and dignity at the Liberian Senate.

In what appears to be a robust reform and rebranding effort for the Senate, she has set her sights on improving sanitation by providing piped water in all bathrooms—a situation that has been a major challenge for years at the Capitol.

The water sourced from boreholes dug on the Capitol grounds has solved the age-old problem of “No water in the bathroom.”

The availability of running water in the Senate wing by the Senate Pro Tempore has so far enhanced sanitation to a greater extent at the upper-house Senate wing of the Capitol.

Continuing her modernization efforts, Pro Tempore Karnga-Lawrence has also commenced work on installing public Wi-Fi at the Liberian Senate.

When completed, the internet service (Wi-Fi) will cover various corridors at the Senate’s wing, as well as the chambers where regular sessions and hearings are held.

As part of her efforts to promote transparency and accountability, Pro Tempore Karnga-Lawrence has also announced the Senate’s latest initiative: a System Audit, in collaboration with the General Auditing Commission (GAC), to accomplish this task.

The Audit initiative taken by the Liberian Senate is geared towards promoting accountability, transparency, and fiscal prudence in Senate management. In a communication to the GAC, the Senate stated:

“As part of the reform initiative, the Liberian Senate would like the Auditor General to conduct a financial management system and controls assessment of the Senate’s operating environment for the current period.”

The assessment will include reviews of Senate accounting and financial management processes, policies and procedures, financial reporting, internal controls, document management systems, and compliance with applicable laws and regulations.

The objective is to identify areas of weakness in the financial management system and controls environment. Thereafter, the GAC will recommend improvements to ensure that the Senate’s financial management system and controls environment operate effectively and efficiently.

To ensure transparency and credibility, the Senate under her leadership has agreed to set up a mini-desk at the Capitol’s Senate wing for staff of the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC) to enhance the process of assets declaration for senators who have yet to complete the process.

According to the Senate Pro Tempore, the LACC desk at the Senate wing will provide guidance on filling out the asset declaration form to submit on time.

Specialized Committee:

In response to a major national concern, a specialized Senate committee was constituted to investigate the true causes behind the recent protests by women believed to be wives and widows of military personnel.

Members of the committee include: Sen. Augustine Chea (Sinoe County), Chair; Sen. Amara Konneh (Gbapolu County), Co-Chair; Sen. Darius Dillon (Montserrado County); Sen. James Biney (Sinoe County); Sen. Momo Cyrus (Lofa County); Sen. DabahVarpilah (Grand Cape-Mount County); Sen. Gble-Gbo Brown (MaryLand County); Sen. Crayton Duncan (Sinoe County); and Francis Dopoe (River Gee-County).

The committee will probe the situation that led to the cancellation of the Armed Forces Day celebration, a national event held annually on February 11 to honor the men and women in arms.

The committee is mandated to investigate the main causes of the situation and recommend lasting solutions to prevent a recurrence of such embarrassment.

Meanwhile, the President Pro Tempore has also constituted a technical committee to plan a retreat aimed at addressing substantive issues facing the Liberian people and strengthening Senators’ oversight to ensure the national budget positively impacts ordinary citizens. This includes improving staff incomes and benefits, training and employing specialized staff to enhance Senatorial effectiveness in service.

Senator Emmanuel Nuquay of Margibi County is tasked with planning the retreat in consultation with the Pro Tempore’s office.

The office of the President Pro Tempore has also initiated the process of a regular Senate session journal to keep the public informed about the daily or weekly activities of the Liberian Senate, a measure believed to bring about openness to the Senate.

For the first time in many years, the Senate, under the leadership of Pro Tempore Karnga-Lawrence, has met with the President of Liberia to encourage regular engagements for the smooth operation of both branches.

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