Liberia: Executive to Negotiate Salary Cut for Lawmakers
MONROVIA – The submission of the Draft National Budget would delay, probably by 45 days as requested, and that is because the Executive Branch is buying time to negotiate with the leadership of the Legislature for possible salary cuts at the first branch of government, FrontPageAfrica has gathered.
Report by Henry Karmo, [email protected]
This may be part of measures being taken by the government as part of austerity measures and reforms to match revenue generation with government’s expenditure.
The Finance Minister Samuel Tweah last week said at a press conference that the country’s budget process has been such that revenue collected and government’s expenditure are misaligned. Something, he said, international partners have complained about.
Despite not being definite on the issue of salary cuts, the Finance Minister said the administration inherited a salary structure that came in two folds – basic salary and general allowance. This, according to him, though been practiced for the past 13 years, has no logic. He added there may be some sequences as the Executive reviews and reshapes the budget to meet present day realities.
“All the [international] partners have been complaining. The IMF has been complaining that there is no discretionary budget, the budget doesn’t have rule, people can arbitrary assign stuff; you’re wasting budget support money; you’re misusing partners’ money – this is the complaint,” he said.
He said it’s irrational to have a revenue of US$400 million and pass a Budget of US$570 million. “So there has to be some adjustment. Adjustment means rationalization in the whole space – that’s the exercise that’s going on. In that rationalization, there may be consequences, there will be,” he said.
Rep. Gray to Submit Bill
It is probably in this light that Rep. Moses Acarous Gray of Montserrado County, District 8, a member of the ruling party has said he would be submitting a bill that would call for the reduction in benefits of all lawmakers.
In a press conference held in his offices on Monday, the lawmaker said the intent of the proposed reduction would help government generate more revenue for project that would directly impact ordinary Liberians.
While a majority of Liberians live on less than US$2 per day, Liberian lawmakers earn a US$12,000 monthly salary, according to some estimates. At that rate, Liberian lawmakers earn more than British members of parliament and even members of the U.S. Congress.
VP Taylor Once Admitted
While campaigning for Josiah Melvin Cole during the 2018 Senatorial election in Bong County, Vice President Jewel Howard Taylor expressed disenchantment over the fabulous salaries lawmakers were earning at the expense of the Liberian people. She disclosed that Senators make a whopping amount of US$10,000.00.
VP Taylor made the statement when she addressed a cross section of citizens on July 28, 2018 in the gold rich area of David Dean Town or Gold Camp during her last day of campaign in the just-ended senatorial by-election recently.
“US$10,000 is so huge a money for one person to earn at the level of the lawmakers. So, if one person makes that kind of money in six years’ time, that person automatically becomes a millionaire,” she said.
She told the citizens that each member of the Senate earns US$10,000 monthly, but did not say whether the amount in question was for salary alone or whether it is inclusive of allowances and other benefits. However, the VP’s statement, made in passing, suggested that the amount was more than enough for the monthly salary of a Senator.
Shortening Budget Review
The 45-day extension sought by the Executive for the submission of the Draft Budget would expire on June 15, leaving the Legislature with only 15 days to review and pass the budget in keeping Section 11 of the Public Financial Management Act of Liberia.
Section 11 of the Public Financial Management Act says “The President shall submit the proposed Budget and accompanying documents to the Legislature no later than two months before the start of the fiscal year and that the preparation of the National Budget shall conform to the process and time table set forth in Section 11.”