Finance Minister Unsure of Payroll Numbers?

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Minister Samuel Tweah addresses participants at the launch of the Ministry's Strategic Plan.

-Finance Ministry, CSA cite varying figures at 43K, 68K & 69K

Minister of Finance and Development Planning, Samuel Tweah, under serious grilling from Senate plenary on Tuesday, September 3, 2019, has apologized for not following up along with the Legislature during the formulation period of the Harmonization of civil servants salary.

“We hope to do better coordination through information whenever we embark on such national endeavor,” Minister Tweah told the over 20 senators present at yesterday’s three-hour grilling session.

He said the harmonization exercise is undertaken by the Civil Service Agency and the Ministry of Finance, and collectively with all other governmental entities, their combined effort is being debated. Minister Tweah disclosed that the harmonization will benefit every gainfully employed a civil servant, specifically the health, security, and education sectors, although he did not provide specifics or say how gainfully employed civil servants will benefit.

But Minister Tweah came under a sustained barrage of questions when Senators Daniel Naatehn and Nyonblee Karnga-Lawrence inquired about the number of civil servants inherited by the George Weah Government and the total number of civil servants.

Having made what appeared to be a brilliant power-point presentation, Minister Tweah got entangled as he desperately tried to put the correct number of the government payroll.

He told the gathering that President Weah incorporated 2,000 nurses who had been outside payroll, and as far as he knows it has placed only one thousand persons on the current payroll by this government.

However still pressed by the seemingly unconvinced Senators Lawrence and Naatehn, Minister Tweah said the 2,000 nurses and 1,000 brought in by the CDC government brought the number of civil servants firstly to 43,500, to 68,000, but only to increase that number to 69,000 as the number of interested Senators in the payroll aspect of the hearing increased.

Earlier, the CSA representative at the hearing told the session presided over by the President of the Senate, Vice President Jewel Howard-Taylor, that “as at June 2019, we have 43,000 civil servants and as today, all of them have been put into the data and are being compiled, and after that we will know.”

Contrary to public fears of salary deduction, Minister Tweah assured that the harmonization will bring happiness to homes of civil servants.

The Minister will continue with his cross-examination today.

Meanwhile, the Senate after heated debate, last Thursday voted to call a halt to what they described as “constitutional transgression”, meaning the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning “salaries harmonization” scheme and instead reverse the process and reimburse those affected by the action.

The Senate’s decision was prompted by a communication from Gbarpolu County Senator Armah Zolu Jallah, requesting plenary to have the MFDP submit the Government’s salary “Harmonization Plan” inclusive of the three branches of the Government, Private and autonomous agencies. It also followed another letter from Maryland County Senator H. Dan Morais, complaining of student protest actions over teachers go slow at the Tubman University in Harper for salary payment. He continued:

“While on my feet, I move… that this plenary communicate with the Executive informing it of the transgression it has done and ordered that it stops all salary payments until the 2019/2020 national budget is passed and if possible reverse what they have done; until the Legislature completes the process on the budget that will be deemed passed,” declared Bong County Senator Henry W. Yallah in a motion proffered before plenary.

During last Thursday’s debate, Senator Oscar Cooper requested that both the MFDP and Civil Service Agency be cited to, appear before plenary, and ask them if they have a harmonization structure policy to present to the Senate and the Legislature.

“We are getting communications from our constituents who are Doctors as professional people who are supposed to receive US$1,999, and they have displayed bank accounts which showed they received US$254.00; so this is happening if you know about it,” Senator Cooper intimated.

River Cess Senator Dallas Gueh agreed that any decision taken to arbitrarily cut or harmonize salaries without legislative approval “violates the Constitution and the Public Finance Management Law, which states that when the budget is not yet passed one-twelfth of the previous budget be implemented.”

Grand Gedeh County Senator Marshall Dennis for his part called for prompt action on the salary harmonization scheme noting that “information is coming from sources to us that salaries for July are being badly cut, so if we are not careful a lot of noise is going to be around here; so it is better that we put our feet down now and investigate.”

Referencing teachers’ salary cut in her constituency, Senator Nyonblee Karnga-Lawrence said the discussion should be beyond just the policy and planning, “because I know there are teachers in my constituency who met with me and some of them were making LRD18,000 and received LRD6,000. So I think there should be an immediate motion to call our financial team here to prove to us that this is not happening, and if it’s happening what action they are taking immediately. ”

“Considering the noise of salary cut, we should not procrastinate, I think the leadership of the Senate should now communicate with the President to advise him that he should instruct his Finance Minister to stop any cut in civil servants salary until that policy document can be made available,” Grand Gedeh County Senator Alphonso Gaye warned.

11 COMMENTS

  1. If this so-called minister does not know the number of civil servants his ministry caters to every month, even a ballpark figure, then heaven help Liberia. How could this guy have just formulated the budget for the entire country and doesn’t even know a ballpark figure of the number of civil servants working in Liberia? Imagine this scenario in an IMF/WB meeting! This is the same exact ignorant ineptitude that cost Dr. Joseph Kortoe his job as minister of Education during the Ellen administration, when he could not say the number of elementary school students in Liberia. But, of course, under “Mr. No Better,” any standard goes. And they’re supposed to be cleaning Ellen’s “mess?” Employees of the MFDP will tell you this Tweah guy is a fake. He will reportedly scream and scoff at underlings in staff meetings and tell them “that’s why I’m the boss here” and end of that discussion. Perhaps he thought he could bluff his way with those senators as reason why he went before them unprepared. The big takeaway to all this is that the consolidation of two major and important ministries into one and headed by a buffoon is an impediment to the growth and development of Liberia. The rationale for this action may have been good, but the obtaining consequences have grave impact, life and death implications for Liberians. Our country cannot continue to be stagnant with citizens bearing the burnt in ignorance, poverty, diseases and deaths without end. This is heartless, to say the least. It may therefore serve our purpose well with the MFDP devolved into its original 2 ministries or, were incompetent misfits like Tweah weeded out of this government to make way for others who really know what they are doing. There is just too much at stake for any administrator to be satisfied with this level of incompetence. Too much.

  2. If Mr. Weah and his “big shot” officials have not learned, as yet, from some “worse” past of our own history and those of other parts of our one globe, are not they watching the present chain of turbulances world-wide, which are directly caused from “bad and poor governing”? From my wisdom and personal observation, if their stubbornness and arrogance prevent them to succumbing to the masses’ demandes and well-being, there will certainly be a repetition of ” negative” history in Liberia. // Gonyanue Blah

  3. Stop the warning and take actions.
    Your people are dying, if you truly like the president take actions and save the lives of the people.

  4. Has anyone gotten himself in trouble ? And when asked about the trouble, the answer is, I am not the only one who was doing it or was involved in doing it ? Other governmental entities were involved in the initial planning stage. That’s the Junior Finance Minister Samuel Tweah kind of lies when he is under pressure in order to tell the truth and to give account for unexplained transparency concerning the financial affairs of the State. Under in investigation from the GAC concerning the mop-up exercise, the Junior Finance Minister as Chairman of The Economic Management Team informed the GAC that the team did not issue the Central Bank any written instructions. That was after the Central Bank informed the GAC that the mop-up exercise was authorized by The Economic Management Team headed by Chairman Samuel Tweah. When Tweah is under pressure to come clean, then , it is the team that made the decision. Not Samuel Tweah as Chairman. But the team . It wasn’t me alone. But when it comes to impressing the Liberian people through the news Media, and how he Samuel Tweah handled the mop-up exercise, the Junior Finance Minister went on to inform the general public that he used the money exchangers and other businesses. This time it is he, and not the team. But under pressure for transparency, it is the team. Not Samuel Tweah. In fact, it wasn’t me. Now lets look at his performance and answers before the Senate concerning the harmonization of the budget. According to the Daily Observer article, under cross examination concerning the harmonization ” He said the harmonization exercise was undertaken by the Civil Service Agency and the Ministry of Finance and collectively with all other governmental entities, ” . Oh yeah ? It is the Civil Service Agency, and us at the Finance Ministry along with other governmental entities are combined helpers. The budget works carried out by the Finance Ministry and its harmonization is what drawing the public’s attention and interest. The Civil Service Agency is not dropping anyone from government payroll, but the budget harmonization through the Finance Ministry is what hurting government employees. That’s the real reason the Junior Finance Minister Samuel Tweah is on the hot seat. When it comes to Samuel Tweah taking the heat, then it is some one else , or the team or other governmental entities in association with the Finance Ministry. I wasn’t there. It was not me alone. I was Chairman , but it was the team. To boast about and impress, well , the message is well understood. That in all deals concerning accountability and transparency count out the lying junior Finance Minister Samuel Tweah as some one that is worse than a flip flopper. Common answer , my Ministry is undertaken the budget harmonization and working alongside with the people at the Civil Service Agency. Yes, my Ministry is working on harmonization. Can’t say that ? Marking the Civil Service Agency as the primary and the Finance Ministry as the secondary with others governmental agencies.

  5. I am tempted to believe that the senators are unknowingly collaborating with The Minister of Finance, to rob our people. How could they have entertained a minister, who had unlawfully enforced a policy, that has not been approved, by the National Legislature? They should have simply told Hon. Tweah to correct the salaries of the civil servants, since the budget has not been approved. There was nothing further to be discussed. Why were they making all those enquiries, when Hon. Tweah had acted outside the confines of the law? Please tell the man to go and do the right thing. Period!

  6. I saw the exuberance and energy displayed by Samuel Tweh on several occasions and come to think of it…..just a simple question ask by Senator Yonblee Karnga Lawrence concerning the total numbers of civil servants in Liberia he assumed as Finance Minister and the current number now……It is a shame that the minister couldn’t answer the simple question…sad day for our country…

  7. Min. Tweh is saying one thing and doing the opposite. I am a health worker who previously earned 31000 Lrd but saw only 13000 Lrd in my account for July 2019 but Min. Tweh is still lying under oath that health worker are not affected in this salary harmonization policy. What a shame?

  8. The country is not setup.
    There is NO excuse. There should be thousands of Liberian with much advance Degrees, KnowHows today. Why should those basic booking, counting skills be so difficult?
    The norm of Liberia today is high school dropouts?

    Note: The economy will NOT grow out of donations or from nothing.
    God bless Liberia.

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