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US 200,000 chokes senators

The Presiding Officer for the Liberian Senate, Senator H. Dan Morias has denied claims made by both Speaker J. Alex Tyler and Deputy Speaker Hans Barchue that the Senate received US$200,000 for the 2014 nationwide oil consultations that were conducted by the House of Representatives.

“Absolutely not true, Daygbor; I’m not aware of us receiving that amount from the House of Representatives or the National Oil Company of Liberia, as a presiding officer or being one of the leaders of the Senate during the administration of Findley, I cannot remember that”, these are the words of the Maryland County Senator.

His comments seem to be in direct contrast to claims by the House’s leadership that said amount was given to the Liberian Senate as its share of US$900,000 received from the National Oil Company of Liberia or NOCAL to facilitate consultations on the New Petroleum Law of Liberia.

Speaking to The NewDawn via mobile phone Wednesday morning, Sen. Morais, who contested on the ticket of the former ruling National Patriotic Party or NPP during the 2011 General and Presidential Elections, explained that the New Petroleum and Exploration Law of Liberia and the NOCAL Act of 2013, which is currently before the House of Representatives, were earlier passed or enacted by the Senate and subsequently forwarded to the House for concurrence.

“We did not conduct countywide consultations on the bill; we only worked on the bill after series of deliberations and public hearings. So, it is surprising for anyone to raise the argument that the Liberian Senate received US$200,000 for the new oil bill. We’re waiting for the passage to set up a joint committee between the two chambers for the finalization of the bill,” he said.

Last week, the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission invited Deputy Speaker Barchue to present a comprehensive report on the US$1.2M that was reportedly expended for the nationwide oil consultations.

The money in question was reportedly provided to the legislature by the National Oil Company of Liberia or NOCAL for citizens' input on the New Petroleum and Exploration Law of Liberia and the NOCAL Act of 2013 and other consultations.

Out of the total amount, it was alleged that US$1M was given to the House of Representatives, while US$200, 000 was given to the House of Senate.

But speaking to the press on Tuesday, January 27, 2015, at the Capitol Building in Monrovia, Deputy Speaker Barchue said he has repeatedly told the general public that the budget for the nationwide consultation was US$900,000 and that, said amount was used accordingly, and ‘not US$1.2 or 1 million’ as circulated here.

He further clarified that the money to facilitate the nationwide tour was provided by the Government of Liberia through budgetary means and not by the National Oil Company of Liberia as claimed by the Commission and in some quarters.

By E. J. Nathaniel Daygbor

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