Liberia: Government to Save US$3.5 Million from Lawmakers Salary Cut
Monrovia – The Government of Liberia is expected to bank over US$3.5 million annually on monies that would be slashed from the benefits of lawmakers in the Senate and the House of Representatives.
On Tuesday, October 1, the House of Representatives passed a ‘harmonized’ version of the 2019/2020 draft National Budget with an agreement to reduce members of the House of Representatives’ benefits by 31%, which according them is US$$2,586 in cash value and 36% for the Senate, which US$3,600 in cash value.
In this harmonized budget, the Legislature also agreed to cut by 50% on gasoline, which according to the House of Representatives’ Co-Chair on Ways, Means and Finance, Representative Jeremiah Koung of Nimba County, has been US$2,225. By deducting half of this amount, the representatives are going to be left with US$1,112.5.
As part of the harmonization, the Legislature’s Joint Committee also reduced by 16% salary and benefits of judges, and 6% reduction in salaries of all employees of the Judiciary Branch of Government. The standardization of salaries and benefits of employees in government shall, according to the Committee, be extended to all state-owned enterprises.
Prior to the reduction, Montserrado County Senator Abraham Darius Dillon announced his gross salary and benefits as a senator as given to him by Senator Morris Saytumah, who chairs the Senate’s Ways, Means, and Finance Committee.
According to Dillon, included on the paper that Sen. Saytumah handed him, a chart was there showing his salary and gross benefits subject to a tax deduction and the accumulated amount was US$15,325 and US$12k after tax deduction. He also said L$29,700 was his monthly salary.
A week after Dillon’s disclosure, Sinoe County Senator Milton Teahjay issued a counter argument. Teahjay accused Dillon of misleading the public on the benefits of senators.
According to Teahjay, Dillon failed to critically read and interpret the pay chart that Saytumah had given him.
The Sinoe County lawmaker further claimed that contrary to what Dillon had said, they (senators) make US$7,992, as monthly income.
By Sen. Dillon’s disclosure, the 30 senators were earning US$5.4 million annually.
According to the Committee, US$10.4 million was identified as additional revenue that could be gotten from the road fund and contributions from state-owned enterprises (SOEs).
However, this revenue that might be accrued from road fund and the SOEs, is expected to be reserved in line with the government’s standard for enrollment in the IMF program.
To minimize budgetary shortfall, the Committee said it opted to omit US$7 million contingent revenue. This represents five percent of the entire budget, which was submitted by President George Weah.
The Public Financial Management Law (PFML) called for the appropriation of five percent of the national budget as contingent revenue.
In addition, the committee noted that the draft budget as submitted did not cover the salaries and incentives of 1,200 health workers. These health workers were being compensated by a USAID project – FARA grant program. But the program has ended its compensation component.
The House’s Budget Committee also discovered during the hearing that nurses and doctors at the Fish Town Hospital in River Gee and Foya Hospital in Lofa, amongst others were left out of the payroll.