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Members of the 53rd House of Representatives have ratified a US$10 million financial agreement which was signed between Liberia and the International Development Association to increase access to pipe borne water supply services to 12 communities in Monrovia and its environs.
The agreement is to also improve the operational efficiency of the Liberia Water and Sewer Corporation (LWSC).
The decision was taken Wednesday, November 30, during the 7th Day Sitting of the 2nd Special Session of the 53rd Legislature.
Thirty seven lawmakers voted to approve the loan, while 12 voted against the bill, indicating that the bill should not be passed due to the lack of accountability of prior supports to the LWSC as well as the loans that will be used to support the Unity Party (UP) in the 2017 elections.
All of 12 lawmakers who opposed the bills are members of the Coalition Legislative Caucus, comprising lawmakers from the Congress for Democratic Change (CDC), the National Patriotic Party (NPP) and the Liberia People’s Democratic Party (LPDP).
Representatives Acarous Gray, James Biney and Moses Y. Kollie, among the 12 opposing lawmakers, also argued that the « financial agreement » should be subjected to the auditing of past funds of water supply to Monrovia to the tune of over US$40 million.
Former House Speaker, Alex J. Tyler, who for the first time attended session since he was removed from the post, abstained from the process.
In yesterday’s session, the House ratified the US$10 million financial deal due to a report submitted by the Joint Committee from State Enterprises, Public Autonomous Commissions and Agencies, Ways, Means, Finance and Development Planning, Public Utilities and Judiciary.
In the Joint Communication, Rep. Garrison Yealue, Chairman on the Committee on State Enterprises, Public Autonomous Commissions and Agencies, said about 600,000 people will benefit from the Urban Water Supply; 10,000 houses will be connected, and 1,000 youth are expected to be employed in the project areas.
He also stated that 120 schools will be connected, including 45 health centers where water-borne diseases will be reduced considerably.
Yealue said project activities will be divided in two phases to include infrastructure development, which focuses on the rehabilitation and improvement of the existing water distribution network in targeted areas, and acquisition and installation of bulk meter across the network, and the extension of the transmission and distribution network in the targeted network areas.
The extension areas are Gardnersville, Barnersville, SKD Boulevard, ELWA/Robertsfield highway and in Kakata, Margibi County. Other areas will include the branch line communities such as Gardnersville, Kesselly Boulevard, Neezoe, Chicken Soup Factory, Niclay Town, Coca-Cola Community, Duport
Road and Virginia, among others.
According to Rep. Yealue, phase two of the project will provide capacity building to the LWSC by strengthening the project implementing entity’s capacity to sustain and expand its services.
The loan was sent to the Senate for concurrence.
Bill to ‘harmonize’ NASSCORP
In a related development, the House of Representatives has mandated its Joint Committee on Judiciary and State Enterprises to review a proposed law seeking to establish the National Social Security and Welfare Corporation (NASSCORP), and report in a week’s time.
Plenary decision was taken Wednesday, November 30, during its 7th Day Sitting of the 2nd Special Session of the 53rd Legislature based on a communication from President Ellen Jonson Sirleaf.
The Bill titled, « An Act to Repeal Decree No. 14 of the People’s Redemption Council of the Armed Forces of Liberia and to create a New Chapter 89 of the Executive Law establishing the NASSCROP » is seeking to harmonize the public-sector pension scheme which will provide a single, national pension scheme for reasons of equity, administrative efficiency and labor market flexibility.
When passed into law, it will increase the National Pension Scheme contribution rate, which will give employees a stronger stake in the receipt of benefits and also extend coverage to members of the Legislature, Executive appointees, Justices of the Supreme Court and paramilitary personnel.