Salary Harmonization to Affect Judicial Workers

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Finance and Development Planning Minister, Samuel D. Tweah, Jr.

After Months of opposition from judges throughout the country against any to attempt to place rigorous taxes on their incomes as part of the government harmonization exercise, Finance and Development Planning Minister, Samuel D. Tweah, Jr., on Tuesday, October 14, laid the matter to rest when he said Chief Justice Francis Korkpor and other justices had endorsed the program.

Minister Tweah’s disclosure comes after judges and judicial workers have contended over the time that their salaries and benefits should not be affected by the harmonization process.

Minister Tweah, while addressing aggrieved judicial workers, went on to say: “Late Chief Justice Johnnie N. Lewis opposed taxing of judges’ and justices’ incomes, and he planned to challenge any attempt to cut or tax the income of judges and that didn’t happen, but Chief Justice Francis Korkpor and the other justices understand, and they have agreed that we tax your income.”

The President at the time, Madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, paying her tribute to the late Chief Johnnie Lewis in 2015 said: “Justice Lewis collaborated with my government to obtain the resources required to renovate the Temple of Justice and to build courthouses not only in Monrovia but in other parts of the country.”

In defense of the Justices’ acceptance of taxation on judicial staff incomes, Minister Tweah informed the workers that the rationale for the payroll reform was basically to standardize pay across the government and to reduce huge irregularities and disparities in salaries.

Article 72(a) of the 1986 Constitution provides: “The Justices of the Supreme Court and all other judges shall receive such salaries, allowances and benefits as shall be established by law.

“Such salaries shall be subject to taxes as defined by law provided that they should not otherwise be diminished.

“Allowances and benefits paid to justices of the Supreme Court and judges of subordinate Court may by law be increased but may not be diminished except under a national program enacted by the Legislature nor shall such allowances and benefits be subject to taxation.”

It can be recalled that during the opening of the February term of court throughout the country, the Resident Judge of the 13th Judicial Circuit Court in Margibi County, Mardea Tarr Chenoweth, informed her audience that the government’s salary harmonization program would depress judges and magistrates and undermine the effectiveness of the judiciary.

Judge Chenoweth noted: “No act shall therefore be promulgated by the Legislature to contravene the intent of framers of the Constitution.”

Defending her opinion, Judge Chenoweth said that in other common law jurisdictions like the United States of America, judges are well-paid to ensure that they are not saddled with an issue that might affect their ability to perform in the protection of fundamental rights and liberties.

Judicial Canon #6, titled, “Government paid officials,” provides among other things that, “A judge is a government-paid official and must be paid adequately; he holds an exalted position which prevents him from engaging in any business pursuit, therefore, he must be provided with the necessities of life and with every means by which he or she will be able to perform his or her judicial duties effectively, efficiently, and speedily. The judge must be encouraged and given the incentive to live a decent and dignified life that would prevent financial and domestic worries, and enable him to repel temptation which is susceptible to human life. As priests of justice, a judge should not be given the cause to be corrupted in the performance of his or her judicial duty to be justified for any disciplinary action taken against him if found deficient in those qualities.”

Author

  • Anthony Kokoi is a young Liberian sports writer who has an ever-growing passion for the development of the game of football (soccer) and other sports. For the past few years, he has been passionately engaged in reporting the developments of the game in the country. He is an associate member of the Sports Writers Association of Liberia (SWAL). He is a promoter of young talents. He also writes match reports and makes an analysis of Liberian Football.

10 COMMENTS

  1. If the law provides for justices and judges’ salaries to be taxed, I support an increment in their salaries if such legislation should apply.
    From what we read every now and then, anyone can surmise that our judges and justices are somehow involved in taking bribes.
    They have a greater role in bringing stability, peace and development to the country. Pay our judges and justices beyond needs, like the senators and representatives!

  2. Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ! He says” Pay our judges and justices beyond[their]needs, like the senators and representatives”. But the end game no matters how much the judges, justices, the senators or representatives are overly paid, the end games will always be political power corrupts and political financial gain corrupts them all. Even before taking up assignment in those professions, their mindsets were already corrupt. Duty for love of country, over financial gain ? Oh Well, not Liberians. Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha . There may be few, but their impact and their numbers are so so so so small, they just don’t count. Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ! What A Country ? What A Professional People ? Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha. The regime’s International AidPartners throws in a US five dollars meant for development, all the professional people want a piece of the five buck. Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ! What A country ? What A Damned Country ?

  3. Hello Brother Peta,
    The ax of James Davis has landed. Besides that, he laughs at you because he thinks your idea of paying more money to the judges is beyond comprehension. Personally, I will not do a laugh like Davis because I will gasp for air if I did! But putting aside all joke, your ANC suggestion would be unacceptable to the people of Liberia if your party were in power.

  4. Grand Frere Hney,

    I understand why James Davis burst out into such outlandish laughter at my proposal. It is understandable. He is doing that out of frustration of the system, and the conception of public office by many Liberians.

    Many Liberians consider the “money” over patriotism, passion and a call to service.
    However, there are some good guys whose navel strings were buried somewhere in the land called Liberia. Such Liberians should be paid such that they DO NOT DEPEND on handouts from dodgy businesswomen and men operating in Liberia for their livelihood. They must be proud to confidently live on their earnings. This is what pushes many Africans to endangering their lives for Europe or the USA.

    I know you have NEVER agreed with me on this point and you may NEVER agree with me for now, but I would like you to submit yourself to an examination of your conscience. If the Liberian government were paying civil servants competitive salaries, were you going to find it scurrilous to come home when you obtained your degree in the USA? You are a great human capital for Liberia, like many Liberians lingering out there in the diaspora.

    In the Ivory Coast, ordinary judges are paid between $800.00 (Interprofessional Guaranteed Minimum Wage) and $2,250.00 per month, and lawyers are paid between $600.00 and $2,000.00 per month. This is what is legal, but many lawyers and judges, depending on the importance of cases they preside, are paid much more money than the legal framework salary scales hereof. Such professionals will do all to keep off from jeopardizing or compromising the interests of the country and businesses.
    Take a survey of Africans living in the USA, how many Ivorian intellectuals, compared to Liberians, do you see lingering out there for jobs? Most go there for school, some will stay on for job experience and then come back home. That’s why this country has a human capital comparable to a European standard.

    Liberians should learn to customize policies and practices copied from our revered USA. If I were the president of Liberia, the senate and the house of representatives would not define / set salaries of other civil servants. Do you see the occupants of the houses we currently have? How many qualified and credible lawmakers can you count on to speak on salary scales of civil servants? They are served, it is ok for them, period. They do not care who lives or dies. All they know, their bellies are full and can easily travel to the USA or Ghana with their families for treatment and school.

    If I were the president, I would create a ministry of Public Services which will be responsible to define salary scales, recruit, train and ensure the movement of public servants on the territory of Liberia and abroad. Such ministry will be packed with qualified human resources specialists who, before defining / setting the salaries at a given time, would consider the mass salaries, Noria effects and other human resources parameters before reaching a decision to be submitted to lawmakers for approval.
    How do you expect to get something professionally done by an unprofessional body, like our senate and house of representatives?

    We need a system in place in Liberia that will be unique to Liberia, like Ghana or Nigeria or Kenya. Let’s stop copying the USA textually whereas we do not have the same history and contexts!
    I am speaking for myself, NOT for the ANC, please!

  5. Mr. Defender,
    I understand that there’s a great deal of “unprofessionalism” in Liberia. But Liberia is home and I am a patriot. I am unhappy with the pay scale, especially the pay scale of the lawmakers of our country. Example, the yearly income of one (1) lawmaker from the county of Gee can buy the textbooks of all the students in Gee county. But, while a Gee county lawmaker gets such a huge salary per year, the youth of Gee (who will eventually govern or represent the county in the future) have no means to be cared for educationally.

    The Opposition Political Parties….
    The issue of pay is undoubtedly a “bread and butter” issue. It’s what we sometimes call a populist message! But your people are so disorganized and weak, none of them has proposed a protest march on the lawmakers’ pay scale issue. So the question is this….Are the opposition leaders waiting to get in the cockpit of leadership before they touch the delicate subject of fair incomes across the board?
    Answer… Don’t count on it. When they get in, it’ll be the same old garbage or even worse!

    The opposition always takes Weah to task. But the opposition parties do this as a game. First and foremost, Weah cannot legally scale back the lawmakers’ annual pay. It’s the lawmakers themselves who can do it. But the lawmakers (as cheap and sloppy as they are) will never think about that. But guess what? The Opposition Political Parties (your affiliate) should be counted on to buck the trend! Rather subjectively, the opposition wants an elected Weah out. That’s not going to work! But yet, the opposition threatens Weah with the concept of a protest march always. Why not challenge the lawmakers who make over $100,000.00 per year at a time when JFK has no beds, bed sheets, medication, etc?

    I know a lot of Ivorians in America. One of them (a Betai) is my mechanic. A good number of Ivorians swear that they will never go back. On a comparative score, the Ivory coast has more resources and more people. Through an effective tax-collecting system, they can do more than the people of Liberia. Don’t forget, the planning of the Ivory coast was done initially by its colonial master, France. In many ways, the Ivorians are better off because of their relationship with France.

    I agree with you wholeheartedly about the fact that we need an effective system of governance. Where we diverge is on the issue of who could put a unique system of government together. The opposition cannot do it! The opposition cannot be counted on. The opposition is weak, disorganized and confused. Period.

    PS…
    I have more than one degree.

  6. Grand Frere Hney,

    I would like you to listen to the debate among the candidates during the 2017 elections. This argument of high salaries came up and nearly everyone gave a flip flop answer to appease his political correctness without any conviction. As usual, they came with their cheering squad who would cheer them for even saying imbecilities.
    But when it came to my “demigod” Cummings, he was emphatic that he will even raise salaries across the board and begin with a minimum annual budget of $2.5 billion.

    Our lawmakers’ emoluments are fine, leave them just the way they are!
    We have a problem with the current government. There is no creativity in adding value to the economy, and the right people are not being voted as lawmakers.
    You can give the annual emolument of the Gee senator to the county educational fund and still have low outcome in the educational standards of the children of River Gee. We need competitive salaries to attract the right brains to go to the classroom!
    DO NOT touch lawmakers’ emoluments. I stand firmly against any motion of reduction of their pay.

    Comrade Hney, Liberia needs a “weak” leader like Cummings. There is no more place for the exhibition of strength in Liberia, if we as a people should make strides. We need a “weak” leader who was never involved in killing Liberians, with the requisite intellectual prowess and professional international outlook like Cummings. This is the way forward for Liberia, believe me.

    I agree with you when you point out the disorganization within the coalition. I am on my knees praying for Cummings all the time. I pray that he would not be corrupted by the corrupt minds we see him mingling himself with. Most people within the coalition are not really people of moral probity; they have ulterior motives in this coalition. Some of them barely represent 1% of the Liberian electorates, yet they want to have dominant voice. May God inspire him (Cummings) and give him the wisdom to know how to tactfully deal with people in the coalition.

    When it comes to blue-collar jobs like mechanics, plumbing, etc., no Ivorian will travel to the USA or Canada or Europe and ever dream about returning until he is about to retire to his village. You make more money when working as a mechanic in the USA than in Cote d’Ivoire. The Bété guy, from my wife’s tribe, is right to say he would not come back. I wouldn’t come back either if I were him, unless when about to retire.
    Consider the number of Ivorians who do white-collar jobs in the USA compared to Liberians, how many Ivorians can you find?

    Wanting Weah out is a fair game, like the Democrats in the USA who desperately need Trump out. Weah promised FIXES, and we see no fixes but SPOILS! His partisans are even weary of him.

    I always disagree with you when you say the Ivory Coast was planned by France, in what way? Why couldn’t France plan other countries like Guinea, Senegal, Burkina Faso, Cameroun, Togo, the Central African Republic, etc. as well?
    The Ivorian leadership was smart to benefit from the French expertise in their development plan. The other French colonies were ruled by strong men who were showing strength and making themselves known as real “African men”.
    Therefore, I prefer a “weak” Cummings than all the other strong women and men we have seen come and go at our rulership in Liberia.

    Salutations, mon Grand!

  7. Mr. Defender,
    (1). According to you, your boss, Alexander Benedict Cummings has made a promise to raise the national budget to $2.5 billion dollars if he becomes president. A promise such as that is reminecscent of his 100,000-job promise. The $2.5 billion-dollar promise does not solve the issue of high salaries that are being paid to a body of people that most Liberians often refer to as “do-nothing” legislators. In reality, the $2.5 billion-dollar promise aggravates the problem. We need problem-solvers in Liberia, not enablers!

    (2). I am sorry I can’t let go the issue of our lawmakers’ exorbitant salaries. Paying such money is a waste of our country’s scarce resources. There are competent teachers who don’t teach well because their monthly take home pay is smaller than the widow’s purse. There are garbage collection issues in Monrovia, but there’s no money to hire a few people who could clean up the city. The good people of Ganta and Tappita, do not have a public library. There’s too much illiteracy in Liberia! I prefer to see quality services rendered to the people of Liberia than making the claim that the “do-nothing” legislators deserve to be paid more money.

    (3). Yes, it’s an of democracy when the opposition makes the request to be considered. But although it is fair game, any demand that the opposition political parties make should be reasonable, not treasonous. Example, when Weah granted the opposition the permission to protest in 2019, the opposition (your people) squandered a unique opportunity to conduct themselves professionally. On the grounds of the capitol, protest “dis-organizers” told their protesters to bring mattresses, stoves, cooking utensils, pots and dishes and food. As you know, there aren’t toilets on the campus of the state capitol. But the “dis-organizers” couldn’t care less. Bottom line….the protest “dis-organizers” didn’t have a stabilizing plan, but rather a des-stablization plan! Also, such a whacky behavior exposed their unprofessionalism.

    Question: After all, was that a good protest march?

    (4). When the colonized French colonies began demanding independence, France was weak politically and militarily. No joke! Remember, Germany embarrassed France during the second world war. From 1945- 59, France was fighting two different wars of Independence; the war in Vietnam and another war in Algeria. Again, France was humiliated for the second time in the 1950s. When Ghana became independent in 1957, the Guineans couldn’t wait. The pressure to grant independence to France’s colonies intensified! Then came the Ivorians and other French colonies. Frankly, it looked like a falling avalanche on France. A Belgian told me that the Ivory coast was built in order to embarrass Sekou Toure. Gentleman, let’s face it…. With the help of France, the Ivory coast was built!!!!!!! I know you are very knowledgeable about your adapted country. But everything I have told you is the truth.

  8. Grand Frere,

    1) If you want problem solvers in Liberia, get on our side and vote the ANC come 2023. We can begin with a budget of $2.5 billion and create 100,000 jobs in the first 100 days of our leadership. Liberia has so many untapped potentials. We need a qualified and selfless government at the helm of power. Weah and thugs came to “do their own too”. They can NEVER change anything positive in the lives of common Liberians. They will create more problems for the common people. They are not pro-poor, but anti-poor. Look at the poverty index upon the taking the oath of office to the time he would be leaving office to prove me right or wrong.

    2) The conception of both houses of the Liberian legislature was not meant for good-for-nothing individuals. It was meant for the brightest minds in our society and so the apportionment of their emoluments is appropriate. They must be well-paid to enable them to do their job patriotically and in the interest of the country.
    It is incumbent upon Liberians to vote out 95% of the current lawmakers. Most of them lack patriotism, and not many are even qualified to represent us.

    3) In no way did we support the protest in 2019, but the people who marched had to be given the liberty to express themselves and be heard by their president. He promised them fixes, it is their constitutional right to demand such fixes.

    4) Frankly, I would like to avoid going into details on this matter on this blog but allow me to brush through.
    France is the only superpower without any natural resources to show for its supremacy (do a fact check on this). They have a national oil company (TOTAL) without a drop of oil under their subsoil, they have nuclear plants without a piece of uranium anywhere in France, etc. Guinea, a West African country possessing all the natural resources any country would need to become a superpower, was earmarked by France to make it an overseas colony. Unfortunately, the rulership of Guinea then was not wise to know how to play the game.
    Today Hong Kong is under the Chinese authority and South Africa is being governed by blacks; peaceful perseverance is more prevailing than violence. Guinea should have known how to play the game like the Ivory Coast.

    I would like to invite you into the Ivory Coast to see development projects undertaken after independence. You will agree with me that France did nothing specific for this country. On the contrary, France has benefited immensely from very huge contracts from this country for its economic upkeep. They are almost losing that monopoly, a partial reason for the many crises underway in the country.
    You need to pray for us, things will be explosive anytime soon in this country.
    Africa needs “weak” but smart leaders. Houphouet was a “weak” civilian president, the other African countries were ruled by strong military men. Understand why the country with the “weak” man is far ahead in major development parameters than the countries with huge natural resources ruled by muscular guys.

    I pray for our “weak” Alexander Cummings to be elected by Liberians for 12 years to embark on real development in every sector.
    No sector has a solid foundation in Liberia, Comrade Hney, not even one. From medical to telecommunications passing through water and sanitation.
    Liberia is the only country on planet earth where Google can give you the number of toilets in the world, in the 21st century. Aren’t’ you ashamed of that, as a Liberian?

    I hope there will be a peaceful transfer of power. Dictatorship always rhymes with illiteracy, ineptitude, mundanity, pride and ego. I hope these demons will be demasked in 2023!

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