— But Pro Tempore assures senators, staffers 2 months’ pay
Senate Pro Tempore Albert Tugbe Chie has maintained that conditions which prompted the Senate’s declination to authorize the printing of new banknotes remain unattended to as of last week.
“I don’t know yet whether we will return in November, because there were issues with donors authorization, so the Senate declined to give that authorization, because we felt that the Central Bank of Liberia (CBL) has to be restructured. And as we speak, since our closure till today (Friday, October 25), I have not seen any movement in that direction,” the Pro Tempore told Legislative reporters over the weekend.
Pro Tempore Chie: “So, I am not aware that we will come back; it may happen next week, maybe things will change; but so far to my knowledge, I hear the same rumors that you continue to hear; but I have not seen any movement, no, not to my knowledge; it is possible, but as we speak I don’t have that information.”
He admitted to delays in payment of salaries to both the senators and their staffers for two months but said that the government remains committed to taking care of the arrears within the next few days.
“Yes, I must admit there is two months’ delay for the entire Senate, including all senators. The staffers have not taken pay for August and September, unlike other agencies of government that have taken pay, principally because of the harmonization scheme in the Legislature,” he said.
According to Chie, the budget for the Legislature was reduced by US$10 million, which he said also affected compensation. “All around the country, nearly all employees were harmonized, but at the Legislature, we decided to absorb the shock, so we did not harmonize any of the staffers’ salaries.”
The Senate Pro Tempore clarified that the delay in payment is due to the paperwork at the Ministry of Finance, “because there is a change in the compensation for senators, and that has to be worked out, so that is causing a little bit delay. But the government has the money to pay them and right now, we are working overtime to make sure our staffers get their pay on tine; within a week or so; the money is available at the Ministry of Finance for two months for the Legislature; only the paperwork to make sure that the cut reflects what is in the new budget.”