Monrovia – Hiding behind the adamancy of lawmakers to disclose their salaries, Senator George Manneh Weah (Montserrado County), being entangled in child support suit in the U.S. in 2016 told the court his earnings as a lawmaker in Liberia could only afford him pay US$162 monthly as child support opposed to the US$1,000 ordered by the court.
Report by Lennart Dodoo – [email protected]
But Weah’s financial disclosure to the court contradicts that of vice standard bearer, Senator Jewel Howard Taylor (Bong County) who also thinks that the US$10,000.00 earned by lawmakers as salaries is quite insufficient for their status.
At the time of legal wrangling, a source informed FrontPage Africa that Senator Weah’s lawyer only revealed to the court the Liberian dollar fraction of his salary as a lawmaker, hiding from the court what he earns in United States dollars.
While Weah is complaining he cannot give full support to the minor whose DNA matched his 99.9% (he requested the DNA in 2015), his compatriot, Sen. Taylor, speaking in the Philadelphia recently reportedly told a group of Liberians that the US$10,000.00 lawmakers earn as salary does not commensurate with the luxurious benefits of cabinet ministers and should, therefore, be increased.
She further explained to the cross-section of Liberians that they need to cater to their constituents who come to their offices daily for assistance and in some cases they pay tuition, underwrite burial cost and make other expenditure for their constituents and that complaining about lawmakers making huge salaries while their constituents languish in poverty “is demeaning” and that the lawmakers current salary, for her “is not enough”.
Salary disclosure has been a major issue confronting accountability at the legislative branch of government.
Among the three branches, the Legislature has continuously resisted audits and have also not harkened to several Freedom of Information (FOI) requests extended to them to disclose how much they earn as salaries.
Both Senators Weah and Taylor are the top brass in what is believed to be the country’s biggest opposition bloc, which claims to be a grassroots party – the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC).
In Montserrado County, the party’s strength is usually found in what is considered as the downtrodden communities with many of its supporters believing that a win for Weah’s CDC will put them on par with the so-called elite society.
However, while Senator Weah who was overwhelmingly voted as Senator of Montserrado County, beating flat Mr. Robert Sirleaf, son of the President, in the December 2014 Senatorial Election was regarded as the messiah of Montserrado County, with hopes so high that downtrodden communities were going to be uplifted by his influence in the Senate which would have brought some developments to such communities, some of his supporters believe has not done much for the county since his ascendancy to the Senate.
Mary Powo, a resident of Central Monrovia told FrontPageAfrica – “We really thought he was going to do something for us, but we are actually disappointed. We don’t even hear from him again since he went to that Capitol Building.”
Another resident of Central Monrovia also said – “We sent Senator Weah the Senate for him to be our voice there, but we are disappointed. What is he doing there? All we know is that he is always traveling from this country to that country. What good is he bringing back?”
Weah’s compatriot, Senator Taylor, who has been in the Senate since 2006 in her speech in Philadelphia sounded oblivious of her responsibility as a lawmaker, reducing constitutional reasonability to merely paying tuitions and giving alms for burials for which she thinks the salary of she and her colleagues must be increased.
While Senator Taylor is opting for increment in remuneration, Representative Worlea Dunnah (District 7, Nimba County) told FrontPageAfrica he disagrees with the idea.
“No, I don’t share that argument. I disagree. I think wherever it is it should stop there.
The government has a serious payroll problem that needs adjustment and we are going through economic challenges.
The government’s objective first was to stabilize the economy and recover our investment sector.”
Representative Munah Pelham-Youngblood (Montserrado County, District 9) also told FrontPageAfrica increment should come through subtle means.
“For me, the increment should come in different ways. I think there should be an increment in salary but there should be budget reform approved for operating our district offices.”
“It does not make sense to work for your salary and use it to operate your district. Everybody cannot go to Capitol Building, so in my view, she was speaking in this light.”