February 25, 2024

Integrity Watch Liberia warns 54th Legislature against overriding President Weah’s veto due to cash influence 

Monrovia, Liberia – Integrity Watch Liberia has warned members of the 54th Legislature against their planned decision under alleged cash influence to override a presidential veto that seeks duty-free privileges for three years to import crude palm oil.

Recently, the Plenary of the House of Representatives voted in favor of a motion calling on the Legislature to take no action on President George Weah’s veto power against the Investment Incentives Agreement between the Liberian government and FOAUNI Brothers Corporation.

The bill entitled “An Act to Ratify the Investment Incentive Agreement between the Government of the Republic of Liberia and FOAUNI Brothers Corporation,” was vetoed by President Weah in August, 2023 on grounds that a page containing important information was omitted.

The bill earlier submitted by the President to the 54th Legislature, is calling for the development, construction, and operation of a refinery by Foauni Brothers.

This is expected to process approximately 13,000 metric tons of Crude Palm Oil per month for the production of edible vegetable oil and the derivatives from such oil palm.

Addressing a news conference Monday, January 8, 2024 in Monrovia, the Executive Director of Integrity Watch Liberia (IWL), Harold Aidoo expressed profound concern over the alleged actions by certain members of the 54th Legislature.

He said those lawmakers appear to have allowed themselves to be influenced to override a veto by the outgoing President, George Manneh Weah, on the Investment Incentives Agreement, thou he did not state the names of the law makers.

Mr. Aidoo stressed that an investigation conducted by his civil society organization (IWL) revealed alarming reasons behind the presidential veto, including significant inconsistencies in the agreement’s language, structure, and objective.

“Notably, section 10.6(a) was deliberately omitted from the submitted agreement to the President’s office. Section 10.1(c) granting duty-free privileges to import vegetable oil raises concerns about undermining local palm oil production, as noted in a motion raised by Hon. Francis S. Dopoh on October 23, 2023, which unfortunately faced defeat.”

The Integrity Watch Liberia Boss further underscored that the current state of the Investment Incentive Agreement favors FOAUNI Brothers Corporation, jeopardizing local industries, competitiveness, and fostering a monopoly detrimental to Liberians.  

The organization questions the lawmakers’ motive to override a veto that seeks duty-free privileges for three years to import crude palm oil, emphasizing the need for incentives that benefit Liberians rather than private individuals.

Harold Aidoo also expressed disappointment in individual lawmakers with vested interests in the FOAUNI Investment deal.

“We are hereby cautioning that any push for nullification may lead to public exposure of individual lawmakers involved,” he threatened.

The organization believes that the decision to override the outgoing President’s veto should rest with the 55th Legislature and the incoming Unity Party administration headed by President-elect, Joseph Boakai.

At the same time, Integrity Watch Liberia called for a transparent and accountable Legislature, urging lawmakers to collaborate in fostering an environment marked by openness and integrity, safeguarding against corruption and undue influence.

“Together, let us uphold democratic principles, strengthen governance standards, and advance the collective well-being of the Liberian people,” Mr. Aidoo averred.

The President’s decision to send the bill back to the Legislature was in line with Article 35 of the 1986 Liberian Constitution.

It states “Each bill or resolution which shall have passed both Houses of the Legislature shall, before it becomes law, be laid before the President for his approval. If he grants approval, it shall become law. If the president does not approve such bill or resolution, he shall return it, with his objections, to the House in which it originated. In so doing, the President may disapprove of the entire bill or resolution or any item or items thereof. This veto may be overridden by the re-passage of such bill, resolution or item thereof by a vote of two-thirds of the members in each House, in which case it shall become law. If the President does not return the bill or resolution within twenty days after the same shall have been laid before him it shall become law in like manner as if he had signed it, unless the Legislature by adjournment prevents its return”.

Reported by: Blamo N. Toe

Contact : +231775963245/+231880320363

Email: blamotoe28@gmail.com

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