Seek intervention of the House of Reps.
Thirty one (31) former employees of the Liberia Revenue Authority (LRA) have requested the House of Representatives to intervene to secure their retirement benefits of US$712,800.
The LRA former staff were discharged by Elfrieda Stewart Tamba, Commissioner General (CG) in September 2016, having been served notification letters for retirement eligibility a month earlier.
In a letter to the House of Representatives, the discharged employees said most of them had not reached the retirement age of 65 or 25 years of continuous service, and were therefore wrongfully retired. They claim that CG Tamba had since refused to carry out the retirement process even though their pay and all related benefits were captured in the fiscal budget, FY 2016/2017.
Some of those who were retired include Robert M. Quiah, Mulbah P. Gayflor, Peter M. Lormie, Siafa G. Sheriff, Theresa G. Kaiser, Felix S.T. Nagbe, Jemire Bull, Thomas J.Y. Germu, Rebecca Gaye, Smith G. Kanno, Nathanile C. Bestman, Robert Chayee, Edward K. Gouzah, Mike Bogba, Bob N. Johnson and Christine A. Bracewell.
“We are constrained to officially complain to you our Representatives, the unbearable and unjustifiable economic hardship we have been subjected to by Mrs. Elfrieda Stewart Tamba, the Commissioner General of the Liberia Revenue Authority (LRA), since August 2016,” the letter said.
It added: “Due to the fourteen (14) years of civil unrest in Liberia that impacted normalcy in governance, the 25-year continuous service requirement was as well effected, and for this reason, the former Minister of Finance, Amara Konneh and Civil Service Director General George Werner in 2013 deducted five (5) years from the tenure of Civil Servants before applying retirement criteria.”
The House Plenary has mandated the Committees on Claims and Petition, Judiciary and Labor to probe the LRA retirees’ claims against the LRA boss, submit findings, and advise the body within two weeks.
The lawmakers reached the decision yesterday based on the petition to look into the grievances.
It may be recalled that the October 2015 mandate issued by the Supreme Court to the LRA Commissioner General to re-instate 10 dismissed employees continues to drag on while the affected employees say the Court’s mandate has been “downplayed” by the LRA boss.
In June 2015, Commissioner General Tamba dismissed 10 employees who were transferred from the then Ministry of Finance to the LRA on claims that they were allegedly involved in corruption while in the employ of the Ministry of Finance.
Not satisfied with the position taken by the LRA, the 10 employees through their legal counsel, Tiawan Gongloe, filed a writ of prohibition to the Supreme Court Justice-In–Chamber, Kabineh Ja’neh, against Tamba’s decision.
Associate Justice Ja’neh ruled in the matter that the dismissed employees were never given due process and therefore asked the parties to the case to return to status-quo-ante, meaning that the employees should be maintained on the job until the merit of the case is heard and determined.
However, the dismissed employees claimed that since the Supreme Court issued the mandate in October 2015 and re-echoed the same mandate in December 2015 the LRA boss, in partial fulfillment of the mandate, re-instated them in December 2015 and paid them up to January 2016, but sent them on a one month compulsory leave in February 2016 and since then “we have been barred from entering the LRA premises and from being paid.”
When contacted, Kaihenneh Sengbeh, LRA’s director of communications, told the Daily Observer yesterday that the Government of Liberia had acknowledged the responsibility to settle the retirement benefits for those affected, and that the Ministry of Finance had started processing checks for them.
“The LRA does not work outside the confines of the national budget and so it is no longer a case between the LRA and those affected, because their situation is being handled by the Government of Liberia,” he added.