Though seems to be a little bit belated, but fabulous salaries that are being paid to heads of State Owned Enterprises (SOEs) and Commissions and Agencies of government are at the verge of being cut, as plans are on the way to examine and pay all officials of government on a more equitable basis.
The Civil Service Agency, under the leadership of Director-General of the Civil Service Agency (CSA), Mr. George Werner, through its Civil Service Modernization Program (CSMP) has instituted a reform program for SoEs, Commissions and Autonomous Agencies towards a more equitable compensation scheme based on differentiation in size, function, responsibility and performance as well as qualifications.
Speaking at a one day SOEs, Commissions and Autonomous Agencies retreat held in Julijuah on Friday, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf said that it is unacceptable for highly professional people such as Lawyers, Doctors and Engineers who are in the employ of the government to be underpaid while SOEs heads are earning exorbitantly.
“It is unacceptable for these professionals to be earning around 1,000 US Dollars while other less professionals working in lucrative state owned enterprises earn about 8,000 US Dollars or more,” the President said.
The retreat, which is the second phase of the cabinet retreat, was aimed at defining the role of these bodies in supporting government implement tangible development projects that would help shape its legacy.
The President statement came immediate after CSA boss, had made a presentation revealing the lucrative salaries and allowances officials of SOEs are receiving. Werner’s presentation, though done in the absence of the press, but post comments revealed irregularities within the government system of salaries payment.
She therefore called on all officials of the Executive branch of government to support the Civil Service Agency’s program to address these inequities.
"I ask for your cooperation in implementing the civil service modernization program, and the equity that they are proposing in public service", President Sirleaf said at the close of a one day retreat for heads of State-Owned Enterprises (SOEs), Commissions and Agencies.
"It is just simply unacceptable for doctors, engineers and lawyers to make somewhere between US$1500.00-US$3000.00 and we have people in autonomous agencies and SOEs making US$8000.00-US$9000.00 whereby the formers are even more professionals than many of us.
“So that is the issue the CSA is working [on] along with the Ministry of Finance to look at to see how we can find a way out.”
The inequality is also at the lower levels; even with the SOEs where there are some SOEs’ head making US$3000.00 and another one making US$9000.00
The Liberian leader noted that the new salary structure should take into account functions, responsibilities, performance, and profitability. “Those have to be taken into account and that’s why he is making the negotiations, by putting them in different categories with due note and to account for these kinds of specificities. But within that there is still inequity. And so we will be working on that and we will ask all your cooperation.”
“We asked for cooperation and Minister of Finance has talked about it – reform in the Corporate Social Responsibility. The funds that are raised, even though they are from your corporate bodies and those bodies need to operate in that manner under a board, but you know and I know that to a larger extent, the boards are weak. They are not taking the kind of strong decisions that will enable you to curb some of these excesses,” she noted.
“Sometimes the fault is with me because we need to look at the kind and function of a particular entity and see what are the profiles of the people who constitute the boards.”
Reduction in these fabulous salaries, allowances and travel stipends of these SOEs are imminent as the government is galvanizing resources to ensure a robust implementation of its five year development program, the Agenda for Transformation (AfT).
Finance and Development Planning Minister, Amara Konneh, called on his colleagues to make the ultimate sacrifices in ensuring that their boss (President Sirleaf) leaves behind a legacy that will forever be remembered by the Liberian people.
He noted that SOEs and Commissions should try to reduce their recurrent costs to ensure that more money goes to government prioritized projects, especially projects such as water and electricity that will have an immediate and lasting positive impact on the lives of ordinary Liberians.
Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission boss (LACC), James Verdier, at the retreat, called for government officials who are serving on boards of SOEs, Agencies and Commissions, not to receive board fees as this is against the Civil Service Code of Conduct.
Though his comment received some murmurs within the crowd, the LACC boss noted that these people are already being paid by tax-payers’ money to do their works and there is no need for them to receive extra money for sitting on Boards.
He said rather than paying government officials board fees, the money could be used to fund government’s priority projects, especially under such an urgent circumstance, when the government is trying to cement its legacy.