It has been a week since the House of Representatives began to investigate a report of “rampant salary discrepancy and deliberate overnight transfer of managers, contractors and so-called professionals to certain government ministries and agencies as civil servants.”
The investigation aims to curb waste and remove ‘ghost names’ of the pro-poor agenda of the Coalition for Democratic Congress-led government.
Meanwhile, the Legislative Information Services (LIS), has commended members of the investigation board to establish a National Income Standardization. LIS has formally written House Speaker Bhofal Chambers and Senate Pro Tempore, Albert Chie on the Income and Benefits Parity between and among senior personnel of all three branches, particularly the Executive and Legislative branches of government.
In separate letters to both heads of the Legislature, LIS’s McCarthy Weh said that the age-old practice of senior staff of the Legislature seeing themselves as subservient to their counterparts from the Executive with respect to income and benefit disparity must now be reviewed.
Weh maintained that such an infamous remuneration practice contravenes Article 8 of the 1986 Constitution of Liberia which states in part: “The Republic shall direct its policy towards ensuring for all citizens, without discrimination, opportunities for employment and livelihood under just and humane conditions, and towards promoting safety, health and welfare facilities in employment.”
The Legislature’s Research head also referenced Article 7 of the Liberian Constitution in part: that “The Republic shall… manage the national economy and the natural resources of Liberia in such manner as shall ensure the maximum feasible participation of Liberian citizens under conditions of equality as to advance the general welfare of the people…” As such, he maintained that in the category of senior personnel of the three branches of government, there must be equity/parity in remunerations.
Further referencing the Constitution, Weh emphasized that the Constitution of Liberia (Chapters V, VI and VII), clearly outline respectively, the power, functions, and responsibilities of the Legislature, Executive and Judiciary; noting that the three separate, but coordinate branches of government have personnel who run the affairs of each branch.
Therefore, he said there must be equal pay for equal work. And like the Executive and Judiciary, the Legislature has a set of personnel who run and manage the day to day affairs of the first branch of government.
It may be recalled that last week, in a letter addressed to Deputy Speaker of the House, Representatives, Acarous Gray craved the indulgence of his colleagues to demand a careful scrutiny of the civil servants’ payroll, which he noted would enable the Legislature to help government curb wastes and remove ghost names.
According to Gray, most of the managers, contractors and other professionals transferred to the civil service maintain their salaries up to US$3,000 in some cases.
“As we have instructed a relevant committee to have a pay cut among ourselves, there are consultants and managing directors, who even make more salaries than members of this very House,” the letter said. “Also, general allowances of some agencies and ministries are distributed with huge disparities at the will and pleasure of a sitting minister.”
He continued: “We have the responsibility to help clean this financial mess through our oversight as we approach the process of a recast budget. May I humbly request this august body to kindly instruct all relevant committees to firstly demand from the Civil Service Agency a full list and people qualified as civil servants for last year.”
Rep. Gray urged, through Deputy Speaker Prince Moye, and relevant committees to call on all ministries and agencies to present copies of their payrolls and remained optimistic that said action would help government generate more revenue.