Speech Delivered by Hon. Dr. Bhofal Chambers, Speaker of the 54th Legislature, the House of Representatives, on the Opening of the 4th Sitting of the National Legislature, Monday, January 11, 2021

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Distinguished Colleagues:  

 As 2020 has ended, it should be our collective prayer that all the adversities, challenges, distractions and harsh political attitudes to extremes end with it, and that 2021 should bring lasting peace, success and harmony.

Our today’s convocation in this Sacred Chambers is in consonance with Article 32(a) of the Liberian Constitution, which states, “the Legislature shall assemble in Regular Session once a year, on the Second Working Monday in January”. We have now come, with a high sense of responsibility, renewed energy and preparedness, to fulfill this very important Clause or Article of the Constitution.

Honorable Colleagues! The year before was one to be described as an “Annus Horribilis”, which means, it was one not complementary to a wonderful year. We lost two of our Members, Hon. Munah Pelham Youngblood and Hon. Jaybloh Nagbe Sloh. Others who fell to the cold hands of death included, Hon. Mobutu Vlah Nyenpan, former Senator of Sinoe County and Minister of Public Works, Hon. Lahai Gbagbye Lansanah, Sr., former Acting President Pro-Tempore of the Liberian Senate, and Hon. Malai Gouto Gbogar, former Member of the House of Representatives, the 53rd National Legislature. May the divine Architect of all Human Events grant them lasting peace. For all of those solely from the other branches of government, we pray for their eternal rest.

The Year 2020 experienced severe shocks, ranging from politics, the economy to health. In terms of politics, we saw a polarized field; the economy, the paucity of the Liberian Dollar or Currency was pronounced, especially at the advent of and during the festive season; for health, the COVID-19 Pandemic created serious panic amongst the population, thereby rendering our people vulnerable and  stagnating the economy. We vouch to surmount or overcome those hurdles or obstacles with renewed vigor.

The paucity, scarcity or shortage of Liberian Dollars or currency in circulation was alarming. However, workable solutions are within reach. It is obvious that, reasonably, money in sizeable quantity should still be available for fluid transactional purposes.

In the United States, in 1933, according to Investopedia, owning more than $100 worth of gold bullion, coins, or certificates became a criminal act called hoarding. Also, hoarding in gold bullion became illegal again in the U.S. in 1974.

The measures instituted by the United States in 1933 and 1974 are worth copying.  Those examples can create sound conditions of action-oriented frameworks, knowing that hoarding, whether hoarding of commodities or hoarding of currency, can cause tragedies and spark up painful economic instability. It can create a cycle of speculation, inflation and self-fulfilling prophecies.

With that said, there is a compelling need to institute serious action-oriented frameworks or laws to address the evil network of hoarding. Mr. Yasuo Hamanaka of Sumitomo Corporation in Japan was imprisoned for seven years in the 1990s for hoarding that led to $2.6 billion in losses in the Copper Market.

Honorable Colleagues! Based on the totality of the circumstances, if the threat of hoarding persists, be it currency hoarding or commodity hoarding, the cruel face of a “state within a state” will creep in, inclusive of forces which could function or operate with manipulative impunity, thereby undermining our body politic.

Esteemed Colleagues, for the year under review (2020) of the third sitting of the 54th Legislature, several legislative actions were taken. The actions are listed below. They are:

Regular Session ……………………………………………….. 69

Special Sessions ………………………………………..….47

Appearances of Ministers/ Directors ……………20

 Total Sessions/ Appearances …………………………138

Others include:

          Total No. of Bills Introduced in the House ……………….… 50

           Total No. of Bills Passed ……………………………………………. 29

             Number of Executive Bills Passed ………….……………………. 19

Number of Senate Bill Concurred with ………………………..  1

Number of House Bills Passed ……………………………………….4

Number of House Joint Resolution Passed …………………… 2

Number of Certificate Extension Passed ………………..……. 2

Number of Simple Resolution Passed …………………….…..  1

Total number of Bills in Committee Room …………….…..  21

Number of House Bills in Committee Room ……………… 7

Number of Senate Bills in Committee Room ………..…… 5

Number of Executive Bills in Committee Room ………… 3

Number of Petitions in Committee Room …………….….. 4

Number of President’s Communications ….………………  2

Esteemed Honorable Colleagues, we are the direct Representatives of the people; therefore, it is vitally important that we always put our people first by our actions.

As it is explicit in the Liberian Constitution, the Preamble clearly encourages us, the people’s direct representatives, to exercise our natural and inalienable rights by establishing a framework of Government for the purpose of promoting unity, liberty, peace, stability, equality, justice, and human rights under the rule of law, with opportunities for political, social, moral, spiritual, and cultural advancement of our society, for ourselves and for posterity. There is a glaring signal for all of us to start our work in this 2021 with intelligence, character, and a deep sense of patriotic consciousness.

There should never again be any space for narcissistic investment as was in the past. This kind of investment creates an atmosphere for the sake of self-gratification at the disadvantage of the people and the State. We must change the narrative. The time is now!

During the last sitting, we were abundantly blessed to have introduced a Special Committee to help drive the economic agenda of the State. We should now collectively work in re-setting the Nation’s economic agenda. Some of those steps to pursue will include:

  1. Revisiting some of the concession agreements.
  2. Optimizing gains from the various sectors.
  3. Preparing or enacting laws inline with best practice.
  4. Working with various institutions and nations to copy experiences for positive economic gains.

Honorable Colleagues!  With the inconvenience suffered, regarding currency shortage, we must now put our focus in the direction of providing the requisite oversight, so as to forestall any recurrence of same.

Our Constitution empowers us to authorize the issuance of currency and mint coins, amongst other things. We must be thankful to the crafters of our Constitution for such brilliance.

Like the US Constitution, Article 1 section 8, which permits Congress to coin money and regulate its value, ours, likewise, in Article 34(d) states, “The Legislature shall have the power to levy taxes, duties, imposts, excise and other revenues, to borrow money, issue currency, mint coins…”

Lastly, let us all, with clearer lenses in the spirit of objective reasonableness, keenly observe the social mood of our people, the influences that drive them, their social attitude and actions. With this position, we can all, in concert, address the needs of our people adequately.

Distinguished Colleagues, lets us all bear in mind that God loves us inspite of the challenges. We must seek to please Him by our actions, knowing that His grace and mercy have brought us this far.

Long live the National Legislature! Long live the Government and People of the Republic of Liberia!

God bless you.

 

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