– ‘Dismissals or suspensions were/are in line with the law… to protect the country’s revenue and ensure strong practices of uprightness,’ says the Liberia Revenue Authority.
Moses Y. Kollie, the Minister of Labor-designate, has accused Commissioner General Elfrieda Tamba of the Liberia Revenue Authority (LRA) of ‘Bad labor Practice,’ and said if he is confirmed, he would ensure that no one is above the law.
“As a Representative, upon investigation, Tamba refused to adhere to the mandates of the Legislature, as well as the Ministries of Labor, Justice and even the Supreme Court to reinstate employees who were (wrongly) dismissed or retired,” the former lawmaker said.
“I observed as a lawmaker over 12 years that the LRA Commissioner General Elfrieda Tamba exhibited bad labor practices,” Kollie told the hearing committee.
“If I am confirmed as a minister, I will ensure that nobody is above the labor law including authorities at the LRA. The act that created the Ministry of Labor gives me the authority to go on the field to inspect, so I too, will be on the field.”
Kollie has also promised to employ labor solicitors, establish a minimum wage board, as well as regulate the labor sector, coordinate with the Chamber of Commerce and to at least ensure Liberians are given deserving jobs over foreigners in foreign companies. He also vowed to revamp the inspection section at the Ministry of Labor, which will be equipped with labor inspectors across the country to apply due diligence as they go about exercising their assigned duties.
It may be recalled that 31 employees of the LRA who were reportedly retired in September 2016 did not get appropriate benefits, and they sought the intervention of the House of Representatives for their retirement benefits in the amount of US$712,800.
In a letter to the House of Representatives, the 31 former employees said most of them had not reached the retirement age of 65 or 25 years of continuous service tenure when they were retired. The LRA Communication Director Kaihenneh Sengbeh told the Daily Observer recently that the Liberian government acknowledged its indebtedness to the 31 former employees and the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning was processing their benefits. He said the case was no longer between the LRA and the former employees.
It may also be recalled that in an October 2015 mandate the Supreme Court directed Commissioner Tamba to reinstate 10 employees, but the affected employees have reported that the mandate was allegedly not adhered to by the LRA Commissioner-General.
The 10 employees were dismissed in June 2015 after they were transferred from the then Ministry of Finance to the LRA. It was reported that the employees were allegedly involved in corrupt practices while in the employ of the Ministry of Finance.
The 10 employees through their legal counselor, Cllr. Tiawan Gongloe, filed a writ of prohibition to Supreme Court Justice-In–Chamber Kabineh Ja’neh against LRA Commissioner Tamba’s alleged refusal to reinstate them.
Justice Ja’neh ruled in the matter that the dismissed employees were never given any due process and therefore mandated the LRA to reinstate them until the merits and demerits of the case were determined.
Meanwhile, the dismissed employees claimed that since the Supreme Court issued the mandate in October 2015 and re-echoed the same mandate in December of the same year, Commissioner Tamba, in partial fulfillment of the mandate, reinstated them in December 2015, paid them up to January 2016, and sent them on a one month compulsory leave in February 2016. But since then, they have been barred from entering the LRA premises and have not been paid.
When contacted for her reaction, the LRA’s Manager for Communications, Media & Public Affairs, Kaihenneh Sengbeh, sent the following statement:
“Commissioner General Elfrieda Stewart Tamba has been and is a professional public servant serving the country, LIBERIA, through her role at the LRA: professionally, fairly, efficiently and transparently administering the collection of lawful revenue for the national good.
“The Commissioner-General is an ardent respecter of all the laws of the state and especially in the collection of revenue, a role she has and continues to play with the highest degree of integrity.
“All actions that the Commissioner General has taken as head of the LRA with respect to dismissals or suspensions were/are in line with the law and intended to protect the country’s revenue (collector) fight fraud and ensure strong sense and practices of uprightness in the collection of lawful revenue and professional ethics”.
The statement continued,“meanwhile, while remaining unbending on her stance to ensuring integrity in the collection of lawful revenue for Mama Liberia, the CG respects people’s view(s) and has no judgment over their opinions. She allows contrary views and is a respecter of the rights of others”, the statement concluded.