– Ad Hoc Committee to study 25% salary reduction to help bail out economy
After eight postponements to discuss the Senate Joint Committee’s report on the state of the economy, the Senate yesterday voted unanimously to appoint a five-member Ad Hoc Committee to start the process to look at recommendations from three of their colleagues.
The committee, chaired by Grand Gedeh County Senator Alphonso Gaye, includes Senators Albert T. Chie of Grand Kru; Nyonblee Karnga-Lawrence of Grand Bassa; Morris Saytumah of Bomi; and Stephen Zargo of Lofa.
The mandate of the Ad Hoc Committee, like that of the Joint Committee, is to look into the seven-point recommendations contained in the February 14, 2017 letter from Senators Nyonblee Karnga-Lawrence, Morris Saytumah and Armah Zolu Jallah, which they believe will help improve the economy if instituted.
The letter was sent to the committees on Banking & Currency; Ways, Means, Finance & Budget, and Judiciary, Claims & Petitions, which reportedly held public hearings to seek the inputs of financial experts.
However, the Joint Committee’s report, which contained several recommendations and was received by Senate plenary, has not been debated as voted upon by that body, but was instead deferred eight times.
The recommendations the Ad Hoc Committee has been mandated to look into and report to plenary within two weeks state that the Ways, Means and Finance Committee and the Ministry of Finance immediately start an extensive and comprehensive review of government expenditure with the goal to streamlining it to meet important national development targets.
The committee will also look into the recommendation that benefits of the President, Vice President, Speaker, Pro-tempore, Chief Justice, Associate Justices, Legislators, Ministers, Deputy and Assistant Ministers, heads of Public Corporations, Directors, and Commissioners be reviewed for a twenty-five percent (25%) reduction.
The benefits will include gas slips, scratch cards and travel allowances, with the aim to cut unnecessary expenditure within government.
Importantly, the Gaye-chaired Ad Hoc Committee is mandated to study the three Senators’ recommendation that there should be no purchase of vehicles for any official of government or any government institution except the security sector and the National Elections Commission until the new government takes office in 2018. It further recommends that consideration be given to unforeseen circumstances like accidents and emergency situations with reasonable justifications.
The committee will also consider if it is prudent for the Ministry of Commerce to work with the business community to ensure that banking with Liberian banking institutions for both Liberian and United States dollars becomes a requirement while taking into consideration the call for the dissolution of all inactive agencies of government to save money for needed institutions.
A member of the Ad Hoc Committee and co-author of the letter, in a recent interview with this newspaper, vehemently protested against the Joint Committee’s failure to discuss or mention any of their recommendations and therefore, requested that it be sent back to the committee’s room.