By Olando Testimony Zeongar
Amid a dwindling economy triggering poverty and untold sufferings, compounded by an increase in the cases of COVID-19 resulting to many deaths in the country in recent time, members of the Legislature have begun receiving the balance US$15k out of a total of US$30k, which was allotted in the 2020/2021 National Budget, as Legislative Engagement Fund, Women Voices has reliably gathered.
Early last month, the lawmakers received the first instalment of US$15k of such Legislative Engagement Fund, to the dismay of many, with several Liberians both at home and abroad at the time decrying the Legislature’s move to have dished out to its members such huge amount in the face of daunting economic challenges and COVID-19 scourge.
Legislative sources divulged to Women Voices newspaper that as of Thursday, some senators and Representatives in both Houses begun receiving the fund.
Our well-placed sources stated that majority of the 101 current members of the Legislature are poised to receive the second and final installment of US$15k for what the lawmakers claim is intended for legislative engagement.
Meanwhile, Grand Bassa County Senator Nyonblee Karnga-Lawrence has objected to the disbursement of the second disbursement of the Legislative Engagement Fund, terming same as being insensitive to the plight of Liberians, in the face of the COVID-19 onslaught against the country.
Senator Karnga-Lawrence late last evening posted on her official Facebook page that news circulating that lawmakers have received the second portion US$15k of a total of US$30k budgetary allotment for Legislative Engagement has claimed her attention.
“It can be recalled that the first disbursement of 15K of the said Legislative Engagement Fund sparked necessary outrage among Liberians who believe that though budgeted and legitimate, making direct disbursements of public monies to Legislators for legislative engagement is insensitive to the welfare of the people; particularly amid the raging COVID-19 crisis,” Senator Karnga-Lawrence wrote.
She stressed that while she is yet unaware of this latest disbursement of the second installment of US$15k, as it is being reported, she would like to restate in no uncertain terms her position that it’s untimely for legislators
to accept said disbursement in the face of Liberia still going through the COVID-19 crisis.
“Accordingly, in adherence to the outcry of our people, I encourage all of my colleagues to join me in requesting the Executive Branch to direct the money to the fight against COVID-19 and or other national priorities,” the Bassa senator further wrote, adding, “Should the Executive insist on making the disbursements, I shall reject mine unconditionally.”