President Weah Visits Senate to Discuss ‘Economy, Salary Cuts’

20
2312
Senate Pro Tempore Albert Tugbe Chie

— And Other Issues of Great Importance

President George M. Weah is paying a rare visit today (Tuesday, May 7) on Capitol Hill to discuss the economy with the Senate including a suggested “salary cut” of members of the Legislature and other issues of great importance.

The Daily Observer has reliably gathered that the President will meet the Leadership and Members of the Senate in their Chambers in a closed-door (secret) meeting, which will mark his first visit to the chamber of either House, apart from his two annual addresses to the Legislature.

The President is expected to discuss similar issues with the House of Representatives, as announced in a communication to the Lower House, on Thursday, May 2.

Some of the issues will include the “rapid depreciation in value of the Liberian dollar and global economic factors” after the economic growth was projected 3.2 percent for 2018 and 4.7 percent for 2019; while the percentage change in general price level (inflation) was projected at 11.7 percent for 2018 and 10.5 percent for 2019.

Also, the decline of the economy resulted to a revise downward of Liberia’s GDP from 3.2 percent to 1.6 percent for 2018 and from 4.7 percent to 0.4 percent for 2019. And because of the downward trend of the economy, inflation at the end of December 2018 stood at 28.5 percent and the inflation is now at 24.5 for 2019.

In the President’s communication, the downward revision of the growth rates has rendered the October 2018 resource envelope projected “unattainable” and the year-end forecast has been downward significantly.

“Given these developments, we have embarked on the process of deriving reasonable and attainable FY2019/2020 revenue estimates based on the current underlying macroeconomic fundamentals. This process requires time and resulting challenges in reaching a credible fiscal position has impacted our ability to have the draft budget submitted on time as per law,” the President said.

“Our revised preliminary estimate for the FY2019/2020 National Budget  is a total resource envelope  of US$497m. in line with prudent forecasting, the FY2019/2020 revenue forecast driving the budget preparation is based off the forecasted outturn of the US$476m, actual performance for FY 2018/2019 rather than the approved budget of US$570m.”

In a rather poignant tone, the President said that in consideration of the current (bad) economic and policy environment, it is forecast that the tax base will experience a slight increase so that the core domestic revenue forecast for FY2019/2020 is US$458 million, compared to the US$446 million as revised for FY2018/2019. External resources, grants and borrowing for budget support, are projected at US$39.2 million.”

The President added: “The environment has made the formulation of a balanced National Budget for FY2019/2020 exceptionally challenging. In addition to decrease in viable revenue collection, there are increasing expenditure demands. This budget is being prepared under a framework focused on addressing key critical activities necessary to begin the implementation of the PAPD, conduct the National Census and Mid-term Legislative Elections, continue our critical work improving road infrastructure and honor legal obligations of the Government.”

“In response to these challenges in the fiscal space, we have conducted deep, across the board, cuts to goods and services and non-essential grants and subsidies in order to make space available to honor the Road Fund Act and undertake essential Public Sector Investment Programs (PSIP) that are critical to delivery of the PAPD. These austerity measures have resulted in over US$30 million reduction in recurrent costs. Even with those measures in place, we currently have an overall expenditure of US$543 million and a gap of US$46.6 million.”

The President in his communication said in order to close the gap, the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning is analyzing several options on the revenue side, more in-depth engagement are being sought from State Owned Enterprises (SOEs) and ongoing analysis is being done on the key first steps for successful implementation of the Domestic Revenue Mobilization (DRM) strategy in the context of the challenging economic environment.

In addition to the challenges, the President said that a deficit financed budget provides to the overall economic environment, any additional use of Bridge Financing from the Central Bank as was done in the FY2018/2019 budget will result in a strong risk that most of, if not all, the US$39 million predicted in Budget Support will not materialize.

“On the expenditure side, in addition to the deep cuts in recurrent cost to spending entities already embedded in the preliminary draft budget, MFDP along with the Civil Service Agency are hereby directed to begin a wage bill analysis and rationalization exercise. The result of that work will substantially inform the structure of the FY2019/2020 budget,” the President asserted.

“Each of these measures will take time to assess and with few weeks left to present the draft of FY2019/2020 National Budget for Legislative deliberations, it is our considered view that more time is required to ensure the inputs of key stakeholders, including yourselves (members of the Legislature) and completion of the evidence based analysis of the projection.

20 COMMENTS

  1. Efforts by President Weah to visit and discuss pressing economy situation in Liberia with the leadership of the Legislative Branch appears to be a good first step. However, any austerity measures taken by the Government of Liberia at this critical juncture must be a genuine salary scheme, intended to set the Nation on an irreversible course of fair and equitable distribution of the Nation’s economic envelope. It’s grossly unfair for the Office of the First-Lady of Liberia to be given US 500,000, while a political subdivision of the Nation each gets 200,000 for what is term as, “Social Development Fund.”

    The entire governmental expenditure structures, including salaries of all employees of public corporations and government entities, starting with the three branches of the Liberian Government-including the Presidency must be reduced and restructured to accommodate equitable distribution of the economic envelope of the Nation, and to also commensurate with the current economic condition in the Nation. It’s unsustainable to pay a sitting Legislator 10,000 to 30,000 per month in a Nation with a National Budget under half a billion dollars.

    If the President is serious about cutting waste, reducing salaries and curbing massive institutionalized corruption in the Liberian Government, he must start with himself by reducing his salary by 50%, and submit an Economic Reform Bill for referendum by the Liberian people for the reduction and restructuring of the salaries of the Legislature, Executive and Judiciary by at-least 65%. He must also personally order the prosecution of those responsible for the missing US 25m and 16b Liberian Bank Notes and, also audit the immediate past administration of the Unity Party Government as requested by the Chairman of Up, Mr. Wilmont Paye.

    Besides, it’s absurd that the three Branches of the Liberian Government account for over 60% of the National Budget-especially, in a Nation with a national budget under half a billion dollars. it’s unconscionable that officials of the Executive, Legislature and Judiciary Branches of the Liberian Government are paying themselves anywhere between 10,000 to 30,000 per month, besides their perks which account for another 20% of the national budget, while the majority lingered in abject poverty. This does not make any sense and amounts economic vampire against the Liberian people.

    • Tony – Something had to happen for these “vampires” as you called them to come to their senses and realize that their fleecing of the budget at the detriment of the citizens is very bad. This bad economic situation is a good thing, unfortunately, because it gets their attention. Donor nations are not rushing in to bail them out and it keeps the pressure on them.

    • can u try reading my comment below on why there should be no cut on salary. Watch out, if the salaries are reduce, corruption will increase more than what it is now. This TOO is Liberia. I am a witness to it. I refused a government Job as Director for a department in a college because they refused to give me my desire Salary. all in the name of there will be extra cut coming in for me. I said no because I believe in living with what I work for all my Life. Many friends who knew this got upset that I will not get rich. well, for the seek of my kids and Liberia I will not. the job was given to a different National who dance to the cut coming in and sharing with the College leadership. But at a point heard about me, had to find and ask for my ideas to make the college better and he will give me offer for the day or the time if I could tell him what to do. I refused and told him also what I went through. Most of the students at the time knew, they try advocating but as long as u can’t dance by the beat of the leadership or government (Corruption) you are done, no matter what you know or can do. those in leadership are been paid but they stay needed extra that they don’t work for. if you cut their salary, what do you think will happen? so my advice is No salary caught for now, it is not the solution to bad Economy but honesty, loyalty, commitment, employing or electing the right people. my believe is one day the truth leaders of Liberia will get in power. 4-5yrs will pass by without complain from anyone that will lead to demonstration. Some of those leaders are in and out of Liberia but their voices are not heard, they are put aside like me because they refusing to dance to the order of the day “CORRUPTION” OR STEALING”. if you do, companies will refuse to come to Liberia because the charges will increase in the house or to register. The money suckers will still need to suck money daily. so a big NO to Salary reduction. George Weah stop fooling us and do the right thing you were elected to do.

  2. Okay, Mr. Bigshot Pro-temp! You’re wearing your pinstripe coat suit and looking sharp and living like a king off the poor people’s money but the chicken has come home to roost very quickly. Now let’s see if you’re really deserving of that position to lead your fellow bloodsuckers to come up with a solution. I’m sure you guys expected other countries to pour in billions of dollars so your greedy ass*s so you can continue living like royalty in a very poor country but life is full of surprises. Does it make sense to you that a senator gets 3,000 gallons of gas?

  3. A guy named Phil George and I usually have some technical differences. On the whole, we usually have an agreement of economic ideas probably in the neighborhood of 85%. That’s pretty good.

    With regard to the strongman Gen. Tony Leewaye, I am usually critical of his views because we sit at opposite ends of the political spectrum. It has nothing to do hate, God forbid! Leewaye is a very decent guy.

    But in the above comments of Leewaye and George, only a thug will disagree with them. And since I not a thug, I agree with Leewaye and George from A to Z without reservations!

    I have argued for a long time that the salaries of our country’s lawmakers and Ministers of the institutions of government are exorbitantly paid. In developed countries like the US, Britain, France or Germany, it really doesn’t bother me when a Senator or a Member of Parliament earns $10-15,000.00 or plounds or euros per month. But a small and the world’s 4th poorest like Liberia shouldn’t pay its lawmakers or Ministers such salaries. That’s a travesty.

    George Weah’s attempt to cut salaries is a bold stroke. My God, something had to be done. If the deal goes through, it will burst the economic bubble of some unworthy individuals who are incapable of introducing a legislation or who could put forth a sound economic agenda. The economy cannot be fixed if exorbitant salaries are not slashed by 30-40%. Some would call for a 50% reduction. This is madness. The question is who taught the lawmakers? Answer……Teachers. But instead of doing something about teachers’ salaries, ministers and lawmakers get more and more pounds around their waists than the teachers who are charged with the responsibility of preparing the youth of Liberia. Weah once again deserves to be credited.

    Let’s be realistic. The idea of paying huge salaries was begun under EJS. Also, when Weah became president, he called for a reduction in pay across the board. Weah did not get any cooperation. It’s hoped this time, Weah will be successful.

    • With all due respect, Mr. Hney, I’m not a “General” and never serve in any military or para-military group anywhere in the world. Furthermore, I was never in Liberia during that Nation’s uncivil war to be labeled as ” General.” I categorically reject your characterization of me. I, therefore, demand that you rescind your label of me as a “General”.

      On another note, I do not even know you, neither I’m I aware that you and I were on the opposite political spectrum as insinuated. In any case, please correct the wrong you wrote about me. I’m not asking for an apology, but only asking you as a professional person to correct the wrong you wrote against me.

    • Let me also add that though your intention might be good, but I reject any thing that has to do with “Generals” simply because, we know what it means to call a person “General” in the Liberian setting.

  4. It sounds good to cut everybody salary including the George Weah but we first have to know what everybody is making….George Weah salary and perks is not a national security issue so we need to know how much is being spent on George Weah and his many entourages…George Weah is claiming that the Liberian people can’t see how much they are paying him because it’s national security but it’s just a ruse to hide the size of the salary and perks pie George Weah is getting.

  5. Well, one of the ways in which the economy could be fixed is to cut salaries. It’s an indisputable fact that a cut across the board will not magically turn things around. But, it’s a good start. It must be followed through in good faith. Brother Flomo Smith, we may have a difference of opinions sometimes, but this time as matters relate to the cutting of salaries across the board, I am in agreement with you. I have argued on several occasions that lawmakers and department heads or Ministers of government institutions have made huge salaries. Frankly, there’s no reason for that. Ours is the world’s 4th pootest. Our priorities must and should be scrutinized. Now is the time to rectify that particular issue if is to be perceived as an error.

    Cheers…

  6. James Citizen. welcome back my dear brother….
    I am in agreement with a good number of people today. I hope you’re one of them.

    Let me ask you specifically…..
    Do you think Weah has made a good decision by asking for a pay cut in the ranks of ministers and lawmakers? Also, how much do you suggest? 25%? 40%? 50%?

    It’s a yes or no question. I eagerly await your response.

    • The president have the executive power, and he can use it to cut salaries and eliminate the 3,000 gallons of gas ⛽️.Lets help our country to move forward .

    • Well brother Hney, thanks for being very civil. I think a salary cut of 25% would be good. They need to cut the lavish benefits as well. A Representative friend told me that each Rep gets 2,300 gallons of gas per month. I’m assuming half of that gas slip is exchanged for cash.

  7. The cuts shouldn’t be made exclusively by Weah. Otherwise, Weah will be perceived as an autocrat But yes, the pay cut should be done legislatively.

    If James Citizen is right about the issuance of 3,000 gallons of gas per month for each of the lawmakers, that practice must discontinue without preconditions, be discouraged without vengeance, or be done on a case by case basis. Example, a lawmaker who lives in Margibi County does not need 3,000 gallons of gss per month. Neither does a lawmaker who lives in Bomi County. Instead of 3,000 gallons for all lawmakers who live close by to Montserrado county, at least 300-400 gallons will play the trick. But this information is hear-say. It’s authenticity is sketchy. What should be sunk in is that a cut in perks and pay cut must be done by the three branches of government.

  8. I ONCE SERVED AS A BORDER PATROL OFFICER IN LIBERIA UP TILL 1981 WHEN POLICE AND IMMIGRATION PRIVATE OFFCERS WERE BEING PAID $250.00 MONTHLY,MEMBERS OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES $500.00 ,TO MY SUPRISE LIBERIAN POLICE OFFICERS TODAY ARE BEING PAID $92.00 MONTHLY AFTER 38 YEARS, WITH LAW MAKERS EARNING SUCH HUGE SALARIES . I THINK A 65% REDUCTION OF THE LAW MAKERS SALARIES MAY HELP THE GOVERNMENT A LITTLE BIT,HOWEVER, WILL NOT SOLVE THE PROBLEMS UNTIL THE GOVERNMENT GETS VERY SERIOUS ABOUT TACKLING CORRUPTION.ONE HUGE AREA OF REVENUE GENERATION THAT IS VERY LOOSE IN LIBERIA ARE THE PORTS OF ENTRY/ FREEPORTS WHERE REVENUES THAT ARE NEEDED TO GO INTO THE GOVERNMENT’S COFFER END UP IN THE POCKETS OF CUSTOM OFFICERS AND COLLECTORS . MAY BE THE FINANCE MINISTER NEEDS TO PAY MORE ATTENTION BY TAKING A TOUR OF THE ENTIRE PORTS OF ENTRY AND SEE WHAT GOES ON AT THOSE ENTRY POINTS. HE WILL BE VERY HAPPY IF HE EVER TRY IT.

    • No salary cut, My friend. Stop encouraging Weah to fool us more. try read my comments on why, if you can.

      I accept Weah as My president now but I said it to many friends before 2005, 2011 and of late. I prayed but never had the opportunity or time to meet weah and let him know that he should not run for president. He has the right that any Liberian has and Qualified but not at that level. maybe vice with help him get up there with others. I would have beg him or hold his feet not to for the seek of his name and Liberia stand down. Not for any one Political party or interest. but sure it was many laughed and will laugh at me right now for this but it is the true. if weah check deep in his heart he will tell himself the true. but it is too late, he has to face the challenge of the position now or be doom. I am praying now for him not to be doom. he is my brother, a Liberian and I love him. now there are few things he can do to stop the demonstration June 7. I can’t say it to any one but weah. if he don’t do them, it will make history again in Liberia with Lives lost. I pray for God to help us all so nothing bad happen that day or it should be cut off before that day. so Please stop fooling weah about this salary cut thing or else Corruption with get very angry with weah and Liberians. It will perform in a way it has never in Liberia History until we Liberians can change the way we think and do things. corruption just set small example with the small money that got missing and we crying, if he gets angry we may die in numbers. SO STOP!!!!!!!!

  9. Do u think dis will work? This is joke. A say “where u tie the goat there 8 will eat”. Liberians Love big show or 2 live beyond their means, Let’s stop making fun out of Liberia N Liberians. This will not work. If the salaries are cut corruption with triple in every location in a months’ time. See! Just 2 make big show in a few month the President got a jet 2 take him around the world forgetting 2 know he never use 2 ride that when he was world best player. McGill started 2 build in few months because his boss was doing the same, do u think others are stupid. “A fish starts 2 get rotten from the head”, “the Kids in a classroom will stand and feel happy standing because their teachers are standing and they see it”. Those law makers will not follow any agreement when the president and executives are enriching themselves at the expends of the Liberian people and the president is not stopping it, any government official or party leader can speak without consulting their leader which is a disrespect and nothing is done 2 recall them 2 stop them by the president. “U can punish u child with love”. All My yrs. Living as a Liberian I have seen 90% of Liberians wanting 2 get rich from what is not theirs. They are from the home, schools, N churches. The President, Executives, Lawmakers, Liberians working in the private and public sectors are all from these homes, schools, and churches. Stop making fun out of Liberia and Liberians.
    Watch and see if there be any reduction in salary, CORRUPTION WILL TRIPLE IN A MONTH X 2 an extend that has never existed in Liberia’s History; it is not the solution 2 Economic growth, but working and living honestly with what u work for, not taking bribe 2 sign agreements, getting percentage from donor projects in Liberia?
    So please, if u stop a Liberian man from eating somewhere, they will find another place 2 eat more.
    Watch out, if the salaries are reduce, corruption will increase more than what it is now. This TOO is Liberia.

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