Liberia: ‘House Supports Salary Cut for Lawmakers, But…’ – Deputy

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Capitol Hill, Monrovia – The Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives Prince Moye says members of the 54th Legislature support government’s salary harmonization exercise even if their salaries and benefits will be sliced.

Rep. Moye, however, clarified that any decision leading to an adjustment in salaries of civil servants and lawmakers will be done in accordance with the law.

The Bong County District #2 lawmaker made the assertions following reports that lawmakers are expected to make an ultimate sacrifice by agreeing to a massive salary slash from a whopping US$15,000 to a maximum of US$6,000 as part of recommendations from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to reduce the country’s wage bill amid a crippled economy.

The Government of Liberia, acting upon the advice of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), launched its wage bill harmonization exercise recently.

The exercise, when implemented successfully, will reduce the government wage bill from US$330 million (FY2018/2019) to US$297 million (FY2019/2020). The 2019/2020 budget amounts to a total of US$532,906,966.

President George Weah, in a communication to the House of Representatives recently, stated that based on the harmonization exercise which is expected to save US$30 million, every officer of the Liberia Immigration Service (LIS), the Liberia National Fire Service and the Liberia Drug Enforcement Service (LDEA) will get a salary increase of US$50.

While some financial experts have described the wage bill harmonization exercise as one of the most significant public financial management reforms in recent Liberian history, some are critical of its successful implementation as it is unlikely for the lawmakers, who are clothed with the authority to make budgetary appropriations to wholly support the policy.

But addressing a press conference following the House’s adjournment for the Independence break, Deputy Speaker Moye noted that he and his colleagues support any measures aimed at spurring economic growth, but will ensure that the process is guided by law.

“I am in support, and I think my colleagues are also in support of the adjustments in our benefits and salary. But the way to do it is what we are going to begin comes the thirtieth of this month,” said the Deputy Speaker, who currently serves as Acting Speaker due to the absence of Speaker Bhofal Chambers, who has traveled to the United States.

“We all are in agreement, but we are not going to do it to disenfranchise anyone or to take away from the law. We are the protectors of the law. We cannot go against the law. Where the law provides that we adjust it ourselves, we are going to do that. Where the law provides that civil servants’ salaries cannot be reduced once they have gone through the entire rudiments to be civil servants, you cannot uprightly go and do adjustment. Where the law provides for us to protect them, we are going to protect them, where the law gives us the exclusive authority to adjust our salary, we are going to that.”

Meanwhile, the House of Representatives has adjourned all sessions leading to Liberia’s 172nd Independence celebration which will take place on July 26, 2019.

Before adjournment, plenary mandated its joint Committees on Ways, Means, Finance & Development Planning and Public Accounts to stay for a week and work with the Legislative Budget office to initiate the review of FY2019/2020 draft budget. 

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