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Liberia: Council of Patriots Recommends Alternatives to GOL’s “Fake Harmonization Scheme”

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Henry Pedro Costa (left) and other members of the Council of Patriots, including Mo Ali (far right)

Monrovia – The Council of Patriots (COP) is recommending that the Government of Liberia halts its “fake harmonization scheme” intended to mitigate the nation’s struggling economy.

According to the COP, which was the group that organized, inarguably the largest anti-government protest in the history of this nation on June 7, 2019, Liberians are about to see a huge pay cut of over 63%.

“Sadly, this is going to be the second cut in less than a year and it coincides with 26.5% food inflation and an overall inflation of 23.3% putting us among the countries with highest rates of inflation in a year,” read Henry Pedro Costa, one of two spokesmen of the COP, Wednesday, June 19. “In short, food inflation means the price for the things we can eat including rice, oil, pepper, etc will go by 26.5%. When things prices are going up, it doesn’t make a broader sense to reduce salaries. When you reduce salaries, you are undermining the people’s ability to spend.”

Among their demands, COP wants the government put “an immediate freeze on all new employment across the government to stop ballooning the payroll; remove from the payroll the thousands of unqualified partisans recruited but actually have no work to do in those ministries and agencies; do a payroll audit with the aim of having an actual appreciation of the size of the payroll and identifying and removing ghosts from the payroll.”

Other things they want the adhere to immediately include: “GoL should then do skills audit determining current capacity with the goal of removing the unqualified folks taking paychecks and Centralize all employment related matters relating to civil servants through Civil Service Agency.”

Costa and other COP members emphasized that the Liberian people did not elect the ruling Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) to pay its (CDC) partisans. “Only a few people work for the government-so it is wrong for the government to use all the taxes to just pay a few people because they are loyal to the President. Governments are expected to provide services when they collect taxes on our behalf. As we speak, all the hospitals can’t even receive their monthly supply of drugs and other medical consumables, fuel among several things. In some cases, patients have to buy fuel for the running of the hospitals.”

Costa emphasized that since they submitted their June 7 protest petition to President George Manneh Weah, through the Ministry of State for Presidential Affairs, “We have not even received an acknowledgement of receipt. We want our supporters to know that we will respond to the government’s adamant posture when the deadline expires. Today is Day 8 of that deadline with 20 more days remaining.”

BELOW IS THE FULL TEXT OF THE PRESS STATEMENT

Fellow Liberians currently tuned in to listen and watch this special message, distinguished ladies and gentlemen of the Fourth Estate, we want to welcome you and thank you for the confidence reposed in us to speak on your behalf.  

Today’s statement focuses on several issues bordering on the state of our governance to which we find extremely concerning and need our immediate action. We will first speak to the so-called payroll harmonization intended to reduce salary of civil servants and other professional Liberians for the accommodation of thousands of unqualified and inexperience partisans of the ruling party. The Council of Patriots understands that many If the ability to spend is being reduced, you are putting strains on the economy especially hurting cost of living, hurting small and medium enterprises and overall increasing the suffering of the very poor people the pro-poor agenda is meant to help.

The civil servants and the other Liberians employed with the government should not be made to bear the pain for the government’s own problem it created. In January 2018, they met a wage bill of US297M dollars and instead of taking actual steps in reducing the wage bill, they employed their unqualified partisans and gave them salaries higher than the real professionals they met in the civil service and in government. COP understands that the wage bill hovers today around US350M dollars when we include the public corporations. Instead of reducing the salaries under the fake harmonization scheme, we are recommending the following:

       GoL should put an immediate freeze on all new employment across the government to stop ballooning the payroll.

       Remove from the payroll the thousands of unqualified partisans recruited but actually have no work to do in those ministries and agencies.

       GoL should then do a payroll audit with the aim of having an actual appreciation of the size of the payroll and identifying and removing ghosts from the payroll.

       GoL should then do skills audit determining current capacity with the goal of removing the unqualified folks taking paychecks and

       Centralize all employment related matters relating to civil servants through Civil Service Agency.

Furthermore, we like to emphasize that the Liberian people did not elect the CDC to pay its partisans. Only a few people work for the government-so it is wrong for the government to use all the taxes to just pay a few people because they are loyal to the president. Governments are expected to provide services when they collect taxes on our behalf. As we speak, all the hospitals can’t even receive their monthly supply of drugs and other medical consumables, fuel among several things. In some cases, patients have to buy fuel for the running of the hospitals. This is wrong.

Before we close, it is important to mention here that we find it very surprising that since the submission of the petition to the President’s office on June 11, 2019, signed for by Vera Parker, a staff of the Ministry of State for Presidential Affairs, we have not even received an acknowledgement of receipt. We want our supporters to know that we will respond to the government’s adamant posture when the deadline expires. Today is Day 8 of that deadline with 20 more days remaining. We are counting the days and we will get there again on Protest Day 2 and unending days of protest until the demands are met. The president doesn’t need roundtable to do the following:

       Publishing his asset declaration form filed with the GAC/LACC

       Restructuring of the TEMT and conduct a criminal investigation in the misuse of the 25M mop up funds

       Application of the same energy used to remove Kabineh Ja’neh to get his folks to pass into law the domestic violence bill and publicly commit to adequately funding Criminal Court E

       Make a bold declaration of auditing the legislature this year and halting the attempts by his party lawmakers to make rape offenses bailable,

       Removal of the suspension on Punch FM license among several others.

The Council of Patriots will remain unwavering and unrelenting in Saving the State. Thanks for coming and we will take some questions.

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