Liberia: President Weah Pledges to Revert Gov’t’s Recruitment & Employment exercises to Civil Service Agency
Capitol Hill, Monrovia – President George M. Weah has pledged his government’s commitment to ensuring that all recruitment, employment and payroll management exercises will revert to the Civil Service Agency and the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning as required by law.
Since its inception in January 2018, the Weah-led government has come under staunch criticisms for overstepping the function of the Civil Service Agency (CSA) and employing people based on partisanship.
There have been reports of CDC Chairman Mulbah Morlu sending long lists of partisans – most of them unqualified to various ministries and agencies to be hired.
According to reports, ministers and head of agencies are often threatened to lose their jobs if they refused to hire these partisans from the ruling CDC.
A lot of conspiracy theories have been circulating in the aftermath of President George Manneh Weah’s decision to part ways with his Minister of Agriculture, Dr. Mogana Flomo with some suggestions from the fallen minister’s camp that he had been resisting pressure to hire partisans from the ruling Coalition for Democratic Change.
In addition, political pundits and economists have blamed the government for the ever-increasing wage bill to the unregulated influx of people on the payroll.
Last week, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) delegation to Liberia admonished the Government of Liberia to reduce its wage bill as the government embarks on a process of adopting a credible and executable budget for Fiscal Year 2019/2020 and beyond.
The President’s Pledge
In an apparent adherence to the IMF’s advice, President Weah, in a communication accompanying the draft budget for Fiscal Year 2019/2020 [US$ 532.9 million] to the House of Representatives, stated that for sustainability of the wage bill harmonization exercise, his government will now return all recruitment, employment and payroll management to the CSA and MFDP.
During the implementation of FY2018/2019 national budget, the Pre outlined that the economy was faced with enormous macroeconomic challenges which undermined the realization of approved projected revenue envelope of US$570.1 million.
These macroeconomic challenges, according to him, compelled the government to implement austerity measures and realign national priorities to facilitate efficient service delivery in the key sectors that would have the greatest impact on the poor.
Reversing this situation, he said, is the government’s paramount concern as “protection and improvement of the living standards of the poorest Liberians is the central objective of our development plan, the Pro Poor Agenda for Prosperity and development.”
The President added: “Against this background, we are working in collaboration with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to develop a comprehensive medium term program of economic stabilization and recovery. To help achieve the objectives this program, we have requested their assistance through a four-year arrangement under the Extended Credit Facility (ECF). This arrangement will be used to anchor and strengthen the credibility of our policies, act as catalyst for financial support from our development partners and improve private sector confidence in the future of our economy.”
The government, he said, is the engine of delivering the targets of the Pro Poor Agenda for Prosperity and Development (PAPD) and rebalancing the government’s operating cost allows for better resourcing for government’s entities and investing in step-changing infrastructures.
In consonance with provision of the PFM Act which mandates that the national budget is framed in the context of a medium-termed expenditure framework, he noted the budget endeavors to begin efforts at improving the overall effectiveness of government through reducing nonproductive recruitment costs.
At a first major step, the President noted that harmonization of public sector compensation on the basis of one ‘employee one pay’ has been undertaken by the CSA and the MFDP with a medium-term target of making the wage bill seven percent GDP. According to the President, this exercise has yielded a saving of approximately US$30 million.
In addition, he added that the exercise has created much needed fiscal space for improving compensation for the lowest 15,000 earners in the health, security and education sectors, supporting operational costs of spending entities essential to their service delivery responsibilities and funding critical PSIPs.
In his communication, the President further stated: “Over the medium term, the Civil Service Agency will undertake a comprehensive cleanup of the GOL payroll to ensure the mandatory retirement of staff at age 65 or above and create a five-year pension projection database which will enable government to adequately project handshake packages and potential savings. With the exemption of key positions in the health, education and security sectors, there will be no replacement of retired employees.”
He continues: “To ensure the sustainability of these efforts, all employment, recruitment and payroll management will revert to the Civil Service Agency and the Ministry of Finance & Development Planning whose mandates are to undertake said functions.”
Who Gets What in the Budget?
In summary, the expenditure portfolio, in compliance with the principle of balanced budget is estimated at US$532.9, consistent with revenue projections.
Of the total expenditure, recurrent expenditure accounts for US$490.7 million, representing 92.1 percent of the total expenditures, while expenditure on the public sector investment plan accounts for US$42.3 million, representing 7.9 of the total expenditures projection.
Benefits for Low Earners & Government’s Expenditure on Infrastructure
According to the President, 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.
Officers of the Liberia National Police (LNP) and the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL) will received additional US$36 and US$30 respectively; while about 3,614 teachers and health workers on the supplementary payrolls earning below US$100 will earn US100 beginning the start of FY2019/2020.
Recurrent costs, the President said, are the foundation of his government’s essential functions, but has made space for critical projects necessary to create a strong diversified economy in the medium term.
To help narrow the infrastructure gap currently affecting the country, the government allotted US$1.7 million to the Public Administration sector; US$1 million for the conduct of the legally obligated national Population Census later this year and US$0.7 is for social development activities through humanitarian outreach work.
US$1.8 million for municipal support of which US$1.0 is shared between the Monrovia City Corporation and Paynesville City Corporation for the Clean City Campaign, US$0.75 million for the Cheesmanburg Landfill and Urban Sanitation project (CLUS).
The National Elections Commission (NEC) to get US$2 million for the conduct of the Senatorial mid-term election in 2020; US$0.5 to finance infrastructures supporting the judiciary; US$0.4 million towards global fund counterpart funding agreement and US$3.6 million for Liberia Agency for Community Empowerment (LACE) special project for the Legislature.
Also US$1.75 million is focused on completing projects that were started in FY2018/2019; these include finalizing the construction of faculty housing unit at the University of Liberia’s Senji Campus in Grand Cape Mount County, facilities of Nimba County Community College (NCCC), renovation of the Monrovia Consolidated School System, the Government’s Pro poor housing units and the national postal address system.
Further appropriations include US$0.5 million for the government’s cross cutting homegrown school feeding program, US$1.5 million for the agriculture sector as a stepping stone to provide access to funding for small holder farmers, and US$29.3 million tied to the Road Fund, the government’s mechanism for delivery of its road agenda.