MONROVIA-What seems to be a war of words between and among some members of the lower house (Representatives) and upper house (Senators) of the legislature has ensued with Senator Milton Teahjay of Sinoe County describing the rejection of Arcelor Mittal’s deal to the Executive as a complete and unilateral decision which did not meet the consent of the Senate.
The stalemate which has come about due to the deal has been described as total chaos.
According to him, the action of the lower house to return the MDA to the Executive was troubling and is seen as trying to cripple the work of the senate.
“We granted concurrence to AML resubmission deal about the investment they have in Nimba. We sent it down to the lower house and the house said, we did not have the right to pass it. When we passed it, they were the same people who sent it to us with some amendments,” he said on a local radio program.
He added, “We had a conference committee to look into it. They did not nominate conference committee members. What they did was to surreptitiously and unilaterally return it to the executive without concurring with us.”
The Senator said, the action by the lower house was troubling and has the propensity to create problems for the country. That was unacceptable and worrisome.
Recently, the house passed the Mineral Development Agreement for Arcelor Mittal which needed to be ratified by both blouses. However, the senate said there were some changes that needed to be made before its final ratification. A committee was set up by both houses to review all the technical details before ratification.
But contrary to that, the lower house rejected it without placing those changes; some of which included third-party use of the rail and the port of Buchanan.
He said when the deal was passed by the Senate, the lower house questioned them.
“The distinguished gentlemen in that lower house said that we did not have the right to pass it without their involvement. When we passed it, they were the same people who sent it to us with some amendments and the amendments were to go to a conference committee.”
The senator expressed his anger at the rejection of the MDA. “They cannot run this unilaterally. An instrument which is a property of the legislature to which they have no authority, they went and returned that instrument to the Executive without consultations with the senate. As far as we know, under universal parliamentary practice, that document has not yet been sent, because it was not the decision of the legislature. We cannot allow the country to run like this.”
But prior to the Senator’s statement on Thursday, the President Pro-Tempore of the Liberian Senate, Senator Albert Chie also criticized the action of the lower house was not to their knowledge.
He made the statement on the agenda of the 22nd Day Sitting, 5th Session of the 54th Legislation on Tuesday. According to him, Senator ArcelorMittal Mineral Agreement was still on the Senate’s agenda for this sitting discussion.
That if the deal was sent to the Executive, the lower house needed to act accordingly; which means to retrieve it and resubmit it to the legislature for discussions.
He made it clear that the ArcelorMittal deal hasn’t been rejected by the Legislature as far as the Senate was concerned.
Said Pro-Temp Chie: “On February 15, 2022 the senate communicated with the House of Representatives of its reservation to concur with the House’s gross bill number 46 entitled “Amendment Number Three to the Mineral Development Agreement Among the Government of Liberia and ArcelorMittal and ArcelorMittal Holding AG and transmitted the names of members of the senate’s conference committee to harmonize the disparities and the inputs of each chamber”.
According to him, the Liberian Senate “has been awaiting the names of members of the conference committee on the side of the House of Representatives until we adjoined for the first constituency break”.
The Pro-temp added that it is therefore a need to communicate with the Honorable House of Representatives to kindly remind them to transmit the names of its conference committee members to resolve the variance in the third amendment.