The House of Representatives is studying a proposal from President George M. Weah calling on them to follow his lead and cut their salary and benefits by 25 percent as part of efforts to address the country’s ailing economy.
Sixty-nine (69) members of the House (four seats are empty because of electoral results disputes) have established a Joint Committee, comprising the Committees on Ways, Means, Finance & Development Planning and Public Account to review the ‘Salary & Benefits Cut Proposal’ and advise Plenary in due course.
House Speaker Dr. Bhofal Chambers told Plenary on Tuesday, February 13 — during the 9th day sitting — that the Joint Committee was set up during one of the House’s executive (secret) sessions.
“We can’t open this communication for discussion, because a committee has already been set-up and we expect their report,” Dr. Chambers said.
The Speaker’s remark was prompted by a communication from Lofa County District # 5 Representative, Cllr. Beyan D. Howard.
The Lofa County lawmaker wrote: “Delivering his first State of the Nation Address on Monday, January 29, 2018, President George M. Weah, among other things, stated: ‘In view of the rapid deteriorating situation of the economy, I will reduce my salary and benefits by 25%. In the main time I will urge you to follow my lead in the interest of our constituents.’”
Rep. Howard added: “My distinguished colleagues, you will agree with me that the State of the Nation Address contains policies and reforms that form the basis of President Weah’s first year in office, if not his entire administration. And since this major policy statement was made on January 29, 2018, we who were urged to follow the lead of the President have failed to react….”
It may be recalled that President Weah, during the first Annual Message, said that because of the very rapidly deteriorating situation of the economy, he was with immediate effect, reducing his salary and benefits by 25 percent.
Also, he stressed the dire economic situation facing Liberia: “Our economy is broken, our government is broke, our currency is in free-fall, inflation is rising, unemployment is at an unprecedented high, and our foreign reserves are at an all-time low.”
Meanwhile the Legislature – the House of Representatives and the Liberian Senate – is yet to approve the President’s cut in salary and benefits, according to Article 60 of the 1986 Constitution.
The Legislature has authority to approve the President’s policy through a Joint Resolution. “The President and the Vice-President shall receive salaries which shall be determined by the Legislature and be paid by the Republic. Such salaries shall be subject to taxes as defined by law and shall neither be increased nor diminished during the period for which the President and the Vice-President shall have been elected.”