Liberia: Rep. Snowe Equates Salary Harmonization to ‘Dehumanizing’ Citizens

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MONROVIA – From all indications, the Government of Liberia’s strategy to harmonize and rationalize its payroll is not getting the favor it needs from members of the Legislature who are currently scrutinizing the FY2019/2020 National Draft Budget.

Representative Edwin Snowe of Bomi County has joined other lawmakers and citizens to call for a halt the salary harmonization process being implemented by the Ministry of Finance & Development Planning.

According to the Ministry, through the harmonization process, about 14,000 government employees would realize a rise in salary. 

However, Representative J. Fonati Koffa who chairs the House Judiciary Committee in an earlier interview with FrontPageAfrica that about 10,000 civil servants would also experience a pay deduction through the process. This technically means only 4,000 government employees would benefit increment in their pay through the harmonization process.

The wage harmonization program, according to the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning (MFDP), entails fitting all government workers into a pay grade with seven steps. The grade covers all skillsets in Government as developed by the Civil Service Agency. The harmonization program abolished the basic and general allowance salary structures of the previous years, giving all government workers one pay. Where workers were previously paid with wide discrepancies, all workers under the harmonized bill will now be paid more equitably, with people of the same qualification and experience making about the same amount or in the same range. 

The Ministry of Finance had warned that any attempt the Legislature to thwart the harmonization process could wreck the FY2019/2020 National Budget since the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the European Union (EU), World Bank and other donors may withdraw their support to the National Budget in tone of US$61 million for the FY2019/2020 Budget.

However, speaking on the harmonization on Wednesday, Rep. Snowe said there are other ways the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning could raise revenue by harmonizing expenditure of some ministries and agencies and reducing benefits such as travels and gasoline.

“There are lot of other areas in the budget we can cut from other than going into our people salaries, this is unacceptable. We cannot try to harmonize the pay structure by dehumanizing our people. I strongly oppose to it and this is the view of all lawmakers. We are collectively addressing this issue to dignify our people,” Rep. Snowe said.

Speaking to FrontpageAfrica, the veteran lawmaker warned that reducing civil servants’ salary who are already in the need of more, especially in a struggling economy like Liberia, could create insecurity.

Snowe: “The Legislature has taken cease of the matter, no one member of the legislature should score political gains about it. I want to thank the Speaker and the Pro-Tempore. I think the action of the Ministry of Finance wasn’t fair, it falls short of what was expected to cut salary of civil servants without legislative approval.

“There are lot of things we can cut in, there are lot of ministries that spend budgetary allotment differently, let’s harmonize those things, our people are already destitute. We call on our citizens to remain calm, this matter will be reversed.” 

He told journalists that the right way to address the issue of salary delay is to raise the needed revenue. 

Liberia foreign image is bright

Representative Snowe who serve as a ranking member at the ECOWAS parliament believes that Liberia’s image is not as bad as it has been portrayed by some citizens but warned that the current government of President George Weah needs to “open the government” by inviting in qualified Liberians to help solve the problem of the economy.

Snowe: “If the image of this government was as being projected by people, we wouldn’t have six Presidents coming to Liberian for our Independence Day celebration. The ECOWAS Bank of Development is giving hundred million dollars to fix our roads; there should be confidence for any bank to do that. If you ask me if all is okay, I say no because for me, I see the glass half full.

“I am encouraging this government to open the government and bring on board qualified Liberians. One doesn’t need a party ID card to get a job, there are qualified Liberians waiting for the opportunity to serve we should not brand Liberians,” he said.

He expressed optimism that President Weah will adjust his governing process to succeed and that partisans of the CDC will understand that Liberia is for all Liberians, irrespective of political affiliation or position.

Meanwhile, Representative Snowe has announced that Liberia will host the ECOWAS Parliament with all membership of 15 expected to attended including other staff and guests.  The event is expected to last for two weeks.

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