After a year of scrupulous deliberations and scrutiny of the Proposed Pension and Retirement Bill of 2013, the Liberian Senate has finally agreed with the House of Representatives, but with a few amendments.
The Bill is to amend and restate an Act approved October 8, 2003 which was published by authority of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on October 17, 2003 providing pension and retirement for the President, Vice President, the Speaker, the Deputy Speaker and President Pro-Tempore of the Liberian Senate. Others include members of the National Legislature, elected officers of the Chambers of the Legislature, as well as the Chief Justice, Associate Justices and Judges of the Subordinate Courts.
The Representatives’ version of the Bill of 2013 includes all of the already mentioned government officials in the 2003 Pension Law and input in the personal staffs, but the Liberian Senate added exceptions.
In the Senate’s version, the enumeration of personal staff for the former or retired government officials were adjusted, the inclusion of President and Vice President’s spouses and the Judges of the Subordinate Courts of the Supreme Court.
“In view of the above, the Liberian Senate would have me to apprise you of the need to constitute a Conference Committee of the House of Representatives to work along with their counterparts of the Senate, so as to enable them to harmonize the two versions of the Bill,” the Secretary of the Liberian Senate J. Nanborlor F. Singbeh, Sr. wrote.
According to the Bill, only former and retired top government officials who served their terms successfully and are not re-elected thus retiring to private life and are not in any way gainfully employed by the government will receive an annuity to be divided into monthly payments equal to fifty percent (50%) of the incumbents’ salaries and also twenty five percent (25%) of the incumbents’ allowances and benefits.
The Bill also states that they shall be provided the following for the remainder of their life to be paid by the State; which include full medical benefits, securities, a diplomatic passport, duty free privileges for all personal effects, a vehicle once every three years and personal staffs and car(s) every two or three years, respectively.
“However, upon being re-elected or appointed to another position within the Government, the annuity payments shall be suspended and if he/she qualifies for a second annuity upon the termination of services with the Government, he/she shall be granted the greater of the two.”
The Bill further said that upon the demise of any top government official, the benefits amounting to fifty percent (50%) of all such monthly annuity payments and other benefits shall be paid to the surviving spouse and upon the death of the spouse, same shall be paid in equal portions to each of the minor children.
Interestingly, the Bill made mention of benefits going to the spouse and subsequently to minor children of all of the officials except for members of the National Legislature, saying the benefits shall be given to the spouse or be determined by the National Legislature.
Meanwhile, the House of Representatives has constituted a seven-person Committee, headed by Montserrado County Representatives Edwin M. Snowe, Jr, the author and supporter of the Pension Law, for amendment.