Min. Tweah, Sen. Dillion Clash on ‘Legislature Salary Cut Bill’

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Minister Tweah (left), believes that any additional cuts will lead to heartache and disappointment to constituents who heavily rely on begging their lawmakers for money. Senator Dillon, however, says that "a governance system that is structured such that it works for and serves the needs of the citizens, keeps the citizens from begging for handouts."

For a government that has cried persistently from inheriting a ‘broke economy,’  it was widely expected that it would support legislation that seeks to reduce the monthly salaries of Senators and Representatives who earn approximately US$15,000 and US$10,000 respectively to US$5,000.

But as it seems to be, this is not how the government and most of its supporters feel as evidenced by Finance Minister, Samuel Tweah’s assertions kicking against a draft Act compiled by Montserrado County Senator Darius Dillon to reduce lawmakers’ salaries.

Minister Tweah, while attending what would be considered as “a pre-election campaign rally” of Rep. Thomas Fallah, a member of the ruling CDC contesting the December 8 Senatorial Midterm elections, boastfully said that the previous US$16 million dollar reduction in the lawmakers’ budget is sufficient and therefore he does not support further salary reduction.

According to the Minister, the lawmakers’ budget was previously set at US$49 million (actually US$42,375,922 as stated in the recast FY2019-20 budget) but was slashed to US$33 million  (actually US$33,403,304 as of FY2020-21 draft budget),  which means US$16 million was cut from the lawmakers in this year’s draft budget.  However, the real figure should have been US$8,972,618 (US$42,375,922 minus US$33,403,304).

Minister Tweah, therefore, believes that any additional cuts will lead to heartache and disappointment to constituents who heavily rely on begging their lawmakers for money.

“US$49 million minus US$33 million, it means we have taken US$16 million dollars from the Legislature. We have cut them down. But some people are saying, we should still cut the people’s salary,” Min. Tweah said. “When the Legislature salary is cut too much; when you run to them for help, they will not be able to help and those who are advocating for salary cuts, it’s the people’s money they are cutting. When the legislators do not get money, you will not go there to ask them for anything because they will not have money to give.”

Min. Tweah further added: “I’m the Minister of Finance; we have cut their money down and they are under pressure. Some of them took loans and they do not have money to pay back the loans. I myself, I feel for them because I, the Minister, have been working with the president to cut, cut, cut… but when I look at the lawmakers, I feel sorry because I know what they are going through. So, nobody should tell you to cut their salaries. They have done a lot of good work.”

Before Tweah’s remark, President Weah in 2018 after taking office attributed the tough time the government was facing in its early years to inheriting a ‘broke economy.’

“Our economy is broken, our government is broke, our currency is in free-fall, inflation is rising, unemployment is at an unprecedented height, and our foreign reserves are at an all-time low,” President Weah said in his speech by then. These lines from the President were sung by his supports, most especially the Finance Minister over the difficulty the government was facing in paying wage bills and servicing both internal and internal debts.

And quite recently, the President in his remark to the nation during its 173 years of Independence said that the coronavirus has a negative prospect on the growth and prosperity of the country in the years to come.

“Not surprisingly, it has caused a drastic downturn in business activity and a consequent decline in revenue generation, as well as resulted in food shortages, rising inflation, and negative projections of GDP growth, amongst others,” President Weah said.

Amid those highlighted economic situations, Montserrado County Senator Abe Darius Dillon, an opposition lawmaker whom Rep. Fallah is planning to unseat in the pending senatorial election, last week submitted a bill seeking to set US$5,000 for a lawmaker as a gross salary.

The bill, the Senator argues, will help the government reduce its massive wage bills—which stands at US$291.9 million in the draft budget for FY2020/20201, which is US$535,452,000 increased by US$9 million more than the previous budget (US$526 million).

The proposed bill, according to Sen. Dillon, will save the government US$11 million, an amount which can be used for other development projects including the construction of schools among other things.

In countering the Min. Tweah’s assertion, Sen. Dillion on his Facebook Page criticized the Finance Minister saying that “a governance system that is structured such that it works for and serves the needs of the citizens, keeps the citizens from begging for handouts.”

“Public policymakers should always strive to manage, apply, and use public resources for the general good of the people and country; the Senator said.  “Public policymakers should work the system that empowers the people to earn their living in dignity than turn them into perpetual beggars.”

Arguing further, Sen. Dillion said:  “Sadly, the CDC/Weah-led regime already lacking in any clear vision as to how to properly lead, believes that public officials should pocket more of the public resources and have our people going to beg the very public officials for handouts to live.”

“This kind of mindset is insensitive, callous, and purely evil. Public elected officials are employees of the people; the people are our employers, and it is their tax dollars that pay us the amounts we pay ourselves. How and why should our employers be turned into perpetual beggars by their employees? What kind of policy or attitude is that?”

“But with God above, such evildoers will continue to expose themselves and their plans to keep our people in poverty. The Light from above will confuse them in their wicked ways! And our people will see and know them for who they really are,” Sen. Dillion added.

Prior to Senator Dillon entering the Senate, salaries for members of the House of Representatives and Senate were kept secret.  Salaries for members of the Senate became known after Senator Dillion disclosed his monthly salary.

In addition to the salary, lawmakers also receive gas slips and scratch cards which have been reportedly cut down to 50% from the cash value of US$2,400 to US$1,200. Since revealing his salary, Sen Dillon said he has for one fiscal year lived on US$5,000, giving the remaining US$3,000 to Montserrado County, and yet, he has been able to maintain the sanctity and integrity of the office of the County’s Senator.

Minister Tweah, the first senior Minister to criticize Dillon’s bill has been joined by a lot of Representatives, particularly members of the ruling party including Rep. Acarous Gray of Montserrado County District #8, and Grand Kru County District #2 Representative Cllr. J. Fonati Koffa, who also serves as Chairman of the House Committee on Judiciary to criticize their colleague’s bill.

Their argument is that Montserrado County Senator allegedly failed to study the constitutional backing and applicability of the document seeking to cut lawmakers’ salaries.

According to them, the Dillon Bill runs contrary to Article 34d (i) of the 1986 Liberian Constitution, noting that said document should have originated from the House of Representatives.

Article 34d (i) of the Liberian Constitution states that: “All revenue bills, whether subsidies, charges, imports, duties or taxes, and other financial bills, shall originate in the House of Representatives, but the Senate may propose or concur with amendments as on other bills. No other financial charge shall be established, fixed, laid, or levied on any individual, community, or locality under any pretext whatsoever except by the expressed consent of the individual, community, or locality. In all such cases, a true and correct account of funds collected shall be made to the community or locality”.

Meanwhile, members of the collaborating political party legislative caucus are yet to release any statement in support or against Senator Dillion.

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16 COMMENTS

  1. What do we expect to hear from representative Fonati Koffa, an ex con, who was jail in the US for criminally duping his clients of monies entrusted to him. They are all hustlers who made frivolous promises to their constituents to vote them into office, with the promise that they will make laws that will change the lives of the people.
    Koffa is a lawyer, but argues that they are not getting county development funds, but that is the law, there must be money in the national budget for county development. Who took out that law? Is there a law that their constituents must come to them begging, for which they must maintain these fabulous salaries? Or is there a law for the elected lawmaker to build schools, market stalls, or carry out other development projects?
    Isn’t it the duty of the government to create jobs, or enable the private sector to create jobs for the people? Should our people be turned into perpetual begging their representatives for them to make ends meet?
    It is not the responsibility of a representative to build roads and schools in their respective districts, their responsibilities are to lobby government to put money in the budget to build roads, hospitals, schools and other social services for the people.
    Minister Tweh should be ashamed that he presides over a fiscal budget that has nothing allocated for the construction of schools, or healthcare centers in the leeward counties, but he is advocating for the lawmakers to maintain their high salaries, because they took loans.
    On the other hand senator Darius Dillon has been named “the Light “, because he has been t55he one who made Liberians to get to know the very high salaries that their law makers, because he exposed his salary, and said that he would take home only $5000.00, and t6hat the rest of his salary go to Montserrrado county for any project t6he county would like to use the money to undertake. I think that it was senator Dillion that brought about the so-called salary harmonization scheme, be4cause he harmonize his salary first. Now he calling for a law that will save the government $11 million every year. Wow! This third grade drop out has more common sense than some of our lawyers and Phds in the legislature, but the lawyers have vowed to fight him for trying to save the Liberian people some money.
    I see representative Thomas Fallah is constructing a road in district #9 in Montserrado, but how many roads has he constructed since he got elected to the house in 2005? He build a university, good, but is it a public university, or a private venture? The construction of apartments in Foya, his home town, are they public housing, or a private venture?
    How many bills have representatives Thomas Fallah, and Acaros Grey sponsored and passed into law since their election to the legislature? Legislatures should make laws that will impact the people, and not turn their constituents into begging for handouts from them. As a lawyer, haw many bills has representative Fonati Koffa sponsored, and passed into law that will impact the people from his district?
    As I said before, all of these guys are hustlers that go an make fabulous promises to our people to elect only to line their pockets. They are at it again, lying to our people, undertaking cosmetic developments projects for the people to give them their votes.
    But the Liberian people can not be fooled again to let these hustlers, and common criminals fool them again to give them lobs just for them to be begging them.
    I know that the supporters of this government will not try to make a counter arguments against what I have written, but will start insulting me, but I really don’t care about their insults, because I know that that is the level of their education, their vocabulary is so skewed that all they can do is to resort to insults.
    Tolo Bonah Corfah

    • Mr. Tolo Bonah Corfah, here is my counter to your argument or comment: Which Liberian law says the salaries of legislators should be slashed whether on the eve of election or not on the eve of election???

      Secondly, Mr. Corfah, if what you see “the third grade drop-out” Dillon to be is true viz commonsense and not ANOTHER LIAR AND A HYPOCRITE then why: (as has been published by the press) “First, it was the expensive SUV which he promised not to ride. Later it was the donation of his salary to his office staff, instead of the county as initially promised”?

      Later, it was US$6,500 to pass the state of emergency and the economic stimulus package” which according to the drop-out was “operational funds”? WHY WHY WHY?

      Mr. Corfah, so according to you, all of the the other social capitals erected and constructed by government throughout the country, have not been allocations from the given fiscal budgets? I say you are dead wrong. Please prove me wrong.

  2. CULLED FROM FRONTPAGEAFRICAONLINE

    Darius Dillon is taking voters for fool! After his justification of his “operational funds” which was preceded by him being a beneficiary of high class corruption, he is now on the ve of an election which he is aware shall send him packing, caught in his hypocrisy with an issue he knows is not only impossible, but unconstitutional as far as Article 34 D of the Liberian Constitution stands! READ BELOW:

    “During the period of NOCAL’s boom, Senator Abraham Darius Dillon, who was then chief of office staff in the Office of the Special Advisor (OSA) and Chairman of the board, Robert A. Sirleaf, was sent to study at Strayer University, USA.

    During this period, FrontPage Africa reported that students at the Marvi Sonii Public School in Clara Town were learning on the floor due to lack of chairs.

    Thousands of wasted taxpayer dollars on room, board and tuition later, he would drop off and return without a remorse or the slightest consideration about the children in Clara Town who could have benefitted from the money wasted at Strayer.

    It should not be forgotten that it was reportedly on the advice of Senator Dillon to the then board chair of NOCAL, Robert A. Sirleaf, that over US$900,000 was dished out to members of the Legislature to go on a road show in their various constituencies, explaining about Liberia’s black curse.

    And when NOCAL went aground, President Sirleaf was full of praises for the chairman of the board and his team, which included Senator Abraham Darius Dillon, and switched the blame to herself for whatever wrong that may have gone there, rather than ordering an investigation and subsequently prosecution.

    Today, we are left to wonder what really went wrong at NOCAL. Till date, there has been no audit over why NOCAL, once boasting of over US$50 million on its balance sheet, was left with less than US$500,000. The mystery of that is still shrouded in papal secrecy.

    Strangely but not surprisingly, Senator Abraham Darius Dillon, who believes in transparency, accountability and is severely jittery anti-corrupt, has not added his voice to the many who are yearning for an insight into the NOCAL’s mystery, since his ascendancy to the Senate.

    Senator Dillon’s voice, weighty as it is now, would come with a lot of bearing on the GAC as the Legislature has oversight on the General Auditing Commission. Sadly, it appears it wouldn’t be because the Liberian saying “hauled rope hauls bush” comes to mind.

    Would NOCAL audit reveal how much the oil company reportedly spent on Senator Dillon’s tuition, and would he be recommended for prosecution for causing financial loss to the state as he refused to complete his courses and graduate?

    But Senator Dillon and others, under the banner of the Council of Patriots, would go on to stage numerous protests calling for transparency, accountability and open governance. But when hard pressed to be an exhibitionist of those qualities as well, he refuses and carries on showboating.

    Venerable Nobel Peace Laureate, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, remains right in his quote: “Sometimes we become what we hate in others.”

    Senator Abraham Darius Dillon, a known critic of all the wrong things of governance, is slowly but steadily becoming what he criticized. First, it was the expensive SUV which he promised not to ride. Later it was the donation of his salary to his office staff, instead of the county as initially promised. Now, it is US$6,500 to pass the state of emergency and the economic stimulus package.”

  3. ON THE EVE OF THE DECEMBER ELECTIONS WHICH SHALL SEND DARIUS DILLON PACKING, “OPERATIONAL FUNDS” Darius Dillon is taking voters for fools!

    “Senator OPERATIONAL FUNDS Abraham Darius Dillon, a known critic of all the wrong things of governance, is slowly but steadily becoming what he criticized. First, it was the expensive SUV which he promised not to ride. Later it was the donation of his salary to his office staff, instead of the county as initially promised. Now, it is US$6,500 to pass the state of emergency and the economic stimulus package.” CULLED FROM FRONTPAGEAFRICAONLINE

  4. I have always and continue to disagree with my beloved Senator Dillion on his stance on lawmakers’ emoluments.
    Look Senator, if only you can read the comments some of us make, I would like to admonish you to rescind your bill on any salary cuts. Our lawmakers’ earnings are FAIR and JUSTIFIABLE.
    However, I find it stupid to be paid that much money on a monthly basis and still be paid benefits like gas slips and scratch cards. Senator, you need to advocate for such extra cash to be scrapped and directed to other sectors like education or public healthcare.

    Lawmakers play very crucial, sensitive and unique roles in our democracy. You deal with sensitive issues that entail impartial and patriotic analyses before objective decision-makings. You therefore need to be well equipped and documented, capable of buying or seeking the rightful pieces of information to make informed decisions or to counter de jure and support de facto votes. Also, when voted out, your security and safety need to be guaranteed as you have dealt with many sensitive documents while serving your tenure/s.

    Senator Dillion, I would love you to remain vocal on the inability of the government to provide jobs for the citizenry. Be vocal to push the government to collect taxes from companies to raise our annual budget.
    Look Senator, you partake in voting an annual budget of $535,452,000 of which wage bills alone amount to 291.9 million (291,900,000 / 535,452,000), i.e. 54.51% of total annual budget, what interpretation can you make of such ratio as a senator of the people?
    A country’s wage bills should NEVER exceed 15% of annual budget. Worst of all, from the remaining budget amount, you service debts and pocket a lion share of it. How do you expect to develop the country?

    CDCians, these are some analyses you should make of your government. They promised us FIXES, are these some of the FIXES to the broken or inexistent system in Liberia? NO!

    You bought your way to the presidency by signing unto a bogus contract. You can NEVER bring us any CHANGE or FIX.
    If you guys realize the mistakes you have made, with the love I believe you still have for the country, play low on the upcoming elections to allow someone FREE of all STRAINS to take over the leadership of Liberia to bring us the change we yearn to have. In this way, you will be doing Liberia great service.

    Vote the rightful people to both houses, leave our lawmakers’ emoluments as they are, we beg your pardon. The development of Liberia can be agreed or disagreed in both houses.

    As always or as usual, CDCians make stupid and irresponsible comments. Minister Tweah, Finance Minister of Liberia, has openly supported reducing Liberians to beggars. Is this a pro-poor agenda, honorable minister?

    May God protect to impoverished children of Liberia and give them many blessings!

  5. Consistently being Inconsistent is the order of the day in our society and therefore, you will find out the limitations of good analysis and outputs . Because of this and the rampant corruption that goes on in our country Liberia, we are doomed. This is part of our national hurdles. Ay! Liberia when will you get well?
    As I always say and I repeat that the worst and most corrupt group ever to exist in Liberia is the Natives. Never in the history of this country in a single time for sixteen Billion Liberian dollars to disappear. Never in the history of our country for a minister in cohort with some of his peers to give out money to money changers up to the tune of $25M all in the name of infusing said amount into the economy.
    Liberia is at a crossroad and we need to amend our ways. I have never heard a Finance minister supporting laziness and cheats in government. A Finance minister who supposed to help keep the wage bill of the government down is advocating for Dependency Syndrome. The worst minister ever in this country is Samuel Tweah. You are a disgrace to this country my friend. Look at the greater picture for the betterment of Liberia and not because of hate.
    Samuel Tweah, it hurts a lot to hear from you as a minister of Finance In telling people to not accept budget cuts. Firstly, the money being spent to these Legislators, is too much. Why you guys can not think of being creative especially in investing into Agriculture; that will help boost the yearly generation of huge foreign exchange. The problem with you and some of your guys in government is that you are not industrious.
    Grow more palms, Bananas, plantains, Coffees and other major crops to help earn money for Liberia. Look at Ivory Coast. Your expenditures are more than your income generation or revenues.This tells you that you are bad Finance minister. Stop begging and borrowing money. You are indebting us and this is not good for our future.

  6. John Mannah, how many palms, Bananas, plantains, Coffees and other major crops have you grown? You guys sit your backside there , clean people backsides to stay there and eat lot of junk foods to come talk nonsense.

  7. We engage people of substance and not fake Ones. You are not addressing the issue my friend and you better put your brain together and talk something real. I said the Government and you as a fake person must live by your fake credentials. I am thankful to God that he gave me the opportunities of being in a land that is man’s last hope on Earth.
    I told them their failures and gave suggestions. This is what makes a good Writer or person that talks from their brain not stomach. The government is the tool of the state and we are talking about its income generating power. This is why some of us have the vision to do for our country what we can do and not to sit and be a liability on government.
    My friend, you are a lost individual not knowing even yourself, before talking about me. Because you are just another Dunderhead, you will be removed from your sycophantic life style bluntly. Is am glad I have better job and better salary and making my investment in my country.Go to Caldwell and also Brewerville and ask about what John Mannah has or can show. You are just another fake person wasting ink through this medium. There is dignity in Labor! Bring it on you dummy.

  8. “….constituents who heavily rely on begging their lawmakers for money….”. How indignant and dehumanizing that constituents/Liberian citizens should rely on the pity of the lawmakers whom they employ for money in order to live. It speaks volumes that the Minister’s compassion is towards the $15000 per month salaried lawmaker instead of the sometime $0.0 per month salaried citizens of Liberia. Is this more than misplaced concern or compassion? Could the saving from the salary cut to $5000 per month be used to hire or employ more Liberians to work to build human self reliance, worth, pride, and dignity? Are Liberian leaders hired/employed by the people to create and perpetuate a culture of hopeless helplessness and dependency among the Liberian populace? Could the savings from salary cuts be used to teach some or most Liberians how to fish instead of just giving them fish and enabling them to a life of dependency?

  9. “Go to Caldwell and also Brewerville and ask about what John Mannah has or can show.”In this age of the worldwideweb where documentary evidence can be made available at the click of a mouse, you are asking someone to go and ask. You are a big fool and a pathological liar!

    You piece of shit, you have no better job, nor making any investment in any country. Your poor reasoning makes this fact clear as day. Your displayed idiocy and ignorance, viz the sine qua non of nomenclature for truth and accuracy, are what proves your rant and nonsensical rubbish.

  10. The Dillon bill lacks constitutional backing and his intention is heprocritical and meant to score some political points ahead of the upcoming senatorial election.
    Mr. Tweah is not in any way trying to reduce the electorates to beggars as it’s being exaggerated by hatepositions. The minister making was just reference to how most people perceive lawmakers in terms of given handout to people
    in their constituents. It’s a tradition in our country where people expect government officials to dish out money as gesture.
    People should stop misinterpreting Minister. Tweah just to make this administration look ugly in the eyes international partners.

    • Let us be truthful to ourselves as Liberians. Liberia is one of the poorest countries in the world paying its Lawmakers exorbitant amount of money compare to other countries. Living in a country with no generation hope and future, what does it says to you? it is very sad. Until the young people can see Liberia as their own and are willing to change their thinking and behavior to becoming true patriot, we will remain poor and as baggers.

  11. Mr. Sannoh,

    What do you call “hatepositions”? I presumed you mean we are only expressing our hates for Minister Tweah. If that’s what you mean, I will invite you to read what the minister said here below:
    “Minister Tweah, therefore, believes that any additional cuts will lead to heartache and disappointment to constituents who heavily rely on begging their lawmakers for money.”
    According to you, Mr. Sannoh, “It’s a tradition in our country where people expect government officials to dish out money as gesture.”

    What is the difference between what you have said and what the minister had said? This is two of a kind, or the same or very similar.
    From the sentence above, Minister Tweah and the CDCians, like Mr. Sannoh, have endorsed begging as a mode of life for Liberians.
    I was not born in a Liberia of this kind, I will not want my children and grandchildren to grow up in a society of beggars.

    We envisage a Liberia that will fully understand its foundation. The founding fathers of our Republic decreed the foundation of Liberia on Christian principles or biblical principles. The Bible ordains hard work. Liberians should understand that hard work is biblical, not just spewing out vain words and idiocies. It is biblical to live by the fruit of your labor, and not beg. Remember, it is more blessed to give than to receive.

    Look brother, we told you people this over and over again that the CDC can NEVER ever help Liberia but rather create more problems for the country. There are no creative minds in the party but bunch of disgruntled people who believe that the country is for them and so they should dispose of it at will, NO! The country is also mine, but I believe the ‘pen is mightier than the sword”. Let’s find the right CVs and signatures to lead us, not bunch of hooligans with no creativity and flare for economic planning.

    The CDC administration is already ugly in the eyes of international partners. In fact, the latter did not endorse this moribund rulership. They knew the consequential effects, and so upon the taking the office, most scaled down activities and staff, and drastically cut down on the inflow of foreign direct investments in the country.

    CDC is a plague and a curse for Liberia!

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