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Liberia: Dillon Or Teahjay – Who’s Telling the Truth about Senators’ Incentives

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Monrovia – On Tuesday, September 24, Senator Abraham Darius Dillon, who have just had two months of legislative experience as senator, announced his gross salary and benefits as senator. According to Sen. Dillon, the benefits and salary were disclosed to him in a hand-written letter  given to him by Sen. Morris Saytumah, who chairs the Senate Ways, Means, and Finance Committee.

According to Dillon, the paper that Saytumah had allegedly handed to him, contained his salary and gross benefits subject to tax deduction and the accumulated amount was US$15,325 and US$ 12k after-tax deduction. He also said L$29k was his monthly salary.

A week after the Montserrado County’s lawmaker’s disclosure about his salary and benefit, some of his colleagues have issued disclaimers on the same sensitive topic.  One of the senators, who have come out  publically against Dillon is Senator Milton Teahjay of Sinoe County. 

Teahjay accused Dillon of misleading the public on the benefits of senators. 

According to him, Dillon failed to critically read and interpret the pay chart of the Senate given him by the Chairman on Ways, Means, and Finance Committee. 

Speaking with reporters, the Sinoe County’s lawmaker claimed that contrary to what Dillon said, they make US$7,992 as monthly income.

According to him, they received US$3,175 as transportation reimbursement and US$2,200 for gasoline. However, Teahjay claimed that the all the above breakdowns are not considered incomes as claimed by Dillon because they (senators) don’t receive them as physical cash.

Teahjay argued that his colleague failed to critically read the pay chart of the Senate and interpret it. 

“The monthly income of the Senate is US$7,992; you receive US$3,175 transportation reimbursement that is the money given to senators that is not an income; we don’t take it home as a pay.”

Prior to Teahjay’s interview, the issue about Dillon’s revelation became a huge debate amongst senators in session. They were arguing whether the issue should form part of the day’s agenda for discussion or whether to instruct the Senate Press Bureau to respond to “Dillon’s misinformation.” 

Montserrado County Senator Abraham Darius Dillon

When Dillon addressed the press on that September 24, he claimed that he hadn’t received a dime including gasoline since he was installed as Montserrado County Senator nearly two months ago. He had disclosed that he allegedly received in “handwriting” from Bomi County Senator Morris Saytumah, Chairman of the Senate’s Ways, Means, and Finance, his financial entitlement. According to him, Sen. Saytumah’s handwritten script allegedly shows that his (Dillon’s) special allowance is US$15,000 including a special allowance accounting for US$10K. Also in the bulk figure, transportation reimbursement allowance accounts for US$3,175 while the monetary value for gasoline for him is US$2,150.

“I am not speculating and I am not saying it is around or close to. I am giving an exact figure when you do tax deduction you come to US$12k every month in addition to L$29,700 in salary.

“I believe this amount is too high, that is why I am taking US$5K out of this amount and returning the rest of the money to Montserrado County so that the people can determine what they want to do in terms of developmental and humanitarian needs.”

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