‘US$2,500 Will Be Sufficient… For A Lawmaker’

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— Says Rep. J. Fonati Koffa

In the event of the harmonization of wages of all government employees through the application of a standard pay and grade structure, as well as to eliminate discretionary allowance system, and collapse of all payment and allowances into a single pay or to reduce the wage bill, Grand Kru County District #2 Representative has said he favored salary cut in the House of Representatives and would absolutely vote for its approval.

The House’s Judiciary Chairman Cllr. J. Fonati Koffa told the Daily Observer exclusively on Monday, August 26, 2019 that he used portion of his salary on district employees, including variety of projects across his district; he said US$2,500 is what he is willing to vote for a salary for a lawmaker.

“I considerably believe that US$2,500 will be sufficient and I will be willing to vote for a salary cut of US$2,500 for a lawmaker,” Rep. Koffa said.

“This is no disrespect to any of my colleagues; it is just an honorable opinion that I agree to and a legislative salary cut, and I would vote for at most US$2,500,” he said.

A member of the House of Representative is reported to be making about US$15,000, while a senator makes probably over US$16,000. This means a US$2,500 salary will be a whopping 84 percent reduction, which will inevitably bring relief to the economy.

The Grand Kru County lawmaker argued that the size of the wage bill is not commensurate with the available budget and GoL’s overall expenditure priorities, because of the bad economy and therefore supports the fiscal discipline.

However, Rep. Koffa has revealed that he is constructing three schools in his district, the Taybu Public School, a school in memory of his grandfather, and the Chengbetee Public Schools, which are among 40 projects totaling over US$784,000.

It can be reported that Rep. Koffa has said there is a need to critically look at the national security and political stabilization issues when effecting salary reduction as being done through the government’s salary harmonization scheme.

He argued that while the Ministry of Finance is bragging of increasing the salary of 14,000 persons through the salary harmonization process, it has failed to also disclose to the public that 10,000 civil servants are also experiencing massive salary deduction.

According to Cllr. Koffa, instead of cutting salaries, he expects the government to rather cut taxes and improve the purchasing power of Liberians as a means of dealing with the recession faced by the country instead of increasing the hardship of Liberians.

He said there is a need for government to reduce discretionary spending and engage in more challenging investments like agriculture to support the budget rather than depending on aid coming from donors.

26 COMMENTS

  1. Google Machine Source:
    Comparing salaries between US federal lawmakers (Senators & members of Congress) and their Liberian counterparts.

    1. US senator…. $174,000 per year

    2. US Congressman… $174,000 per year

    3. President Pro ten…..$193,400 per year and

    4. Speaker & Minority leader…$193,400 per year

    Liberia,,……………
    Daily Observer Source, August 30, 2019

    1. Liberian senator… 16,000 per month or
    $16,000/month x 12 months =$192,000 per
    year.

    2. Liberian Representative… $15,000/ mo or
    $15,000/mo x 12 = $180,000 per year.

    A. $192,000-174,000 = $18,000. More money than a sitting US senator.

    B. $180,000-174,000 = $16,000. More money than a sitting US Congressman.

    First of all, what sense does it make for a Liberian senator to earn $1,000 more than a Liberian Representative? Who on earth strategized such a scheme? Are the members of both Houses unequal?

    Second, why should the world’s third poorest country (Liberia) earn more Money per annum than the American federal lawmakers and

    Third, Rep. Fonati claims that he’s willing to vote for a pay cut of $2,500. The newly elected Montserrado senator, Abe Dillon stipulates that $5,000 per month is acceptable to him. Credit ought to be given to Dillon and Fonati. Of course, Fonati’s proposed cut is a penny in a big bucket. Also, if Fonati’s pay cut is adopted, Lower House members in Liberia will earn almost the same amount of money that’s earned by a US federal lawmaker. Should we continue to blame the Executive branch of government and leave out the legislative branch?

    Throughout the three-month harmonization process, the salaries of both House members did not get a cut at all, while over 9,000 civil servant employees were unpaid. But there’s been a strange twist. The Liberian lawmakers have begun complaining in recent days about the dangers of harmonization. One wonders why the good old lawmakers did not raise heckles about harmonization initially? Is this a public charade on the part of the lawmakers?

    The most potent reason:
    The lawmakers have been exposed. Most educated Liberians, international and donor organizations are unhappy with the Liberian lawmakers. There’s no way they can hide. The ball is in the court of the lawmakers. If their salaries are reduced dramatically, there’ll be no need for harmonization. Although harmonization has hurt, it was instituted as an IMF directive. The Finance Minister, Mr. Tweah must and should be given a credit for trying to retrench the government’s meager financial resources.

    Eye Opener:
    Lower House members…66 men and women
    $180,000 per Rep.× 66 lawmakers equals
    $11,880,000.

    Upper House members… 30 men and women.
    $192,000 per senate member per year x 30 equals $5,760,000.

    $11,880,000 + 5, 760,000 = $17,640,000.

    Every Liberian must be enraged.

    • As always, I appreciate your valuable comments in these posts. What I find absolutely crazy is a comparison, for instance, between the US Federal (excluding budgets for the individual states) and the Liberian national budget over the same period of time. The US budget from 2018-2019 is $4,422,000,000,000 ($4.422 trillion) and Liberia’s budget is $432,000,000 ($432 million). Yet with this enormous wealth and a healthy economy, US lawmakers are making a little more than their Liberian counterparts whose economy is experiencing a precipitous decline.

      This lack of a grip on reality explains why the organizations like the World Bank, the EU and the US routinely see a need to lecture our leaders really on their ineptitude and the absolute imbeciles they are when they go begging endlessly for aid.

  2. Correction …should be “pro tempore”. Abbreviated as pro tem. Pro tempore means for the time being in Latin. I actually typed pro tem, but my computer thought it was doing a spell check for me.

  3. Comrade F. Hney, I congratulate you for your in-depth analysis of the exorbitant salary of Liberian lawmakers… You have clearly shown the TRUE ROOT of Liberia’s never-ending economic hardship!!!

  4. F. Hney: please provide some clarity here. If Fonati’s proposed pay cut ($2,500) is adopted, each member of the HoR would be receiving $30,000 per annum. Meanwhile, you have said that federal lawmakers in the US receive $174,000 per annum. $30k is not equal to $174k. Am I missing something here, Sir?

    • Alston C. Armah, F. Hney is not saying that $174,000 is equal to $30,000. What he is saying is that Liberian Lawmakers make more money than their American counterparts, when Liberia is a very poor country and a beggar nation. His analysis is, why should a poor country like Liberia be paying their Lawmakers such an exorbitant amount of money, when a rich country that we beg for everything pays their own lawmakers less than us? I think it is about time to take a radical approach in Liberia by using Executive Powers to cut the lawmakers salaries. $2,500 a month for both members of our houses a month. No car allowance, no house allowance, gas slips, scratch cards.

      Currently, we pay our “Do Nothing” Lawmakers an annual salary of $17,640.000. If we follow Rep’s Fonati suggestion/recommendations, we would be paying those Bribe takers about $3,090,000 annually. That would be a saving of $14,550,000. That’s money that can go to Health, Education, Agriculture and Social Services. About $3,637,500 each could go to the 4 mentioned sectors which would add value to our country, improve services and productivity through adequate programs.

  5. Alston,
    It’s my hope that a clarification can be made. First of all, Rep. Fonati has made a bold move. I congratulate him for trying. Fonati’s senate counterpart, Abe Dillon has suggested that a monthly income of $5,000, is okay with him. It was a campaign pledge fulfillment. In any case, both men deserve a modicum of credit. Their respective proposals put an avalanche of pressure on members of both Houses to do something. By taking home 15,000-$16,000 every month, people are suffering. It’s a fact. Schools are not operating to full capacity because the legislative branch of government is being paid well than university professors, medical doctors, etc.

    The Fonati proposal:
    It’s been suggested by Fonati that he’ll be willing to vote for a $2,500 pay cut. Fonati’s proposal is kind of ambiguous. So let’s deal with what we have. According to the Daily Observer (see above), a member of the Lower House, of Fonati is a bona fide member, the amount of $15,000 is paid out to them monthly. At the same time, members of the Upper House are paid $ US 16,000 per month.

    So, if you deduct $15,000-2,500, you’ll be left with $12,500 per month. That is Fonati’s proposal.
    Let’ take a look:
    $12,500 × 12 months equals $150,000. Instead of earning more money than the world’s most advanced Senators (the US lawmakers), a yearly grand total of $150,000 will be earned by Liberian Representatives. That’s what Fonati’s proposal boils down to. Still, $150,000 per year is way too high for Liberian lawmaker.

    Alston, you came up with $30,000 per year. How did you arrive at that amount?

    I haven’t read through the Liberian constitution. I am not sure whether it is stipulated in the constitution for Representatives and Senators to give out money to their constituents. Giving out money to a politician’s constituency is an act of kindness. God wants us to give! However, to say that lawmakers ought to be paid exorbitant salaries because their money is freely given to their constituents as an act of kindness is untenable. The point is that if there’s high unemployment in one’s constituency, the lawmakers ought to be innovative. Jobs will definitely be created through their creativity. I will quickly add that Liberian farmers need good roads!!!!! If there’re good roads, any poor Liberian farmer who lives in the boondocks will bring his produce to the city market!!!

  6. Remember I made the same suggestion about two weeks ago. House of Representatives, $1,500 and Senators, $2,500 per month. Liberia will have enough money to pay her employees’ salaries for another 172 years. Just think about it!

  7. My dear comrade Grayehwhalah,
    I am very sorry I misspelled your name.

    Should be “of which” Fonati is a bona fide member.

  8. Mr. F. Hney! I think the salaries harmonization program were being introduced just before the IMF came to our aid and the idea was welcome by the IMF. If we want salaries cut as being carry out now by the ministry of finance, this should be across the board from the 3 branches of leadership. Don’t just target few as they did now. This is wrong and unjust to the vase majority of Liberians especially the civil servants of our nation.

    I think the adjustment rather come from our lawmakers since they are being over paid for doing nothing. $2,500 and $3.500 is just adequate to sustain Rep. & Senators in Liberia respectively. We as ordinary Liberians need to get involved because this is total madness to the highest peak. How in this world Rep & senators are earning so much when the very people they claimed to be representing are barely surviving on $2 a day meal? How can we sit and allow this wickedness to goes on in Liberia and think that’s normal? This is not normal at all fellow Liberians. No wonder why people are fighting restlessly to become a Rep or Sen.

    It’s about time we say no to this madness and no one will be force to work as a senator or Representative if their salaries are being harmonized as well. You can simply resigned from the post and there are honest Liberians willing to work for their people for such salaries. The way it is now, the people are working for you instead of you working for the people. If one can not sustained themselves on $2,500 U.S a month in Liberia, considering our cost of life,then something is wrong with you. Government should stop all these packages programs meaning,no more giving lawmakers vehicles at the expense of tax payers. If they do give vehicle, there should be certain percentage of your salaries paid towards that vehicle for maintenance cost. We need to make politics a bit bitter in Liberia folks and only those that can make the difference for their people will work in Liberia.

    So we need to engage in the discussion as Liberians to cut down these lawmakers salaries which will be in the interest of everyone and Liberia as a unit. The more we engage,the more they will listen but if we just sit and do nothing, they will careless and only our people will be hurt more. So, I supposed their bus has run out of fuel and we need to act swift to say no to this madness. J. Ark

  9. Mr. J M Akoi,
    I totally agree with your impassioned plea for a collective action to be taken against the Liberian legislators. Not a nefarious action. Not a warlike action. But a non-violent civil disobedient action. If we don’t act, no one will act for us.

    Yes! It’s a complete madness. A United States federal lawmaker earns less than his or her Liberian counterpart. Our country has the dubious distinction of being the world’s 7th poorest nation. But yet we pay our lawmakers more money than all of the world’s most advanced nations. How did we come to that?

    Every Liberian must be enraged. Every peace-loving Liberian must come forward with his or her best chips that will dislodge those people.

    We are not preaching hatred of any kind.

  10. Very Good.
    Well, Mr Fonati, that is a wonderful move. I hope other Reps will accept this suggestion.
    God bless Liberia.

  11. Mr. Peter Curan,
    Fonati deserves to be credited. At least he came up with a proposal. But honestly, Fonati’s proposal falls too short.

    For instance, if Fonati’s proposal is adopted, Liberian Representatives like him will now take home $150,000 yearly. Understand this well. At the present time, the Liberian Representatives take home $180,000 yearly, plus perks. This is outrageous! By taking home $180,000, a sitting US congressman makes less money per year than a Liberian Representative.

    The Fonati proposal does not go far enough. Do you think it is very good for a Liberian Representative to be paid $150,000 per annum?

    • Mr. H. Honey.
      I am understanding Mr Fonati as saying, $2,500.00/month × 12 months = $30,000.00/year
      and Mr Dillon as saying, $5,000/month × 12 months = $6,000.00.

      Are these not right? These are good beginnings for the discussions. In any case it all has to be justified (like what do they do for getting high or low income).
      Why should Reps get higher incomes than Medical Doctors or the other way around. Do they go to work everyday and what do they do?
      The amounts suggested by Mr Fonati and Mr. Dillon should be justified; they should backup their numbers.
      Because the economy is bad or good, is not a good reason for paying anything for a good work.
      What our neighbor’s Reps makes in their respective countries and how they came up with their calculations could also help in backing up the numbers.
      These days one must try to justify everything.
      God bless.

  12. I followed the discussion clearly and like the manner in which so much sanity void of political differences the issue of salary reduction has been discussed. My own take is how do we consider the increase tendency of corruption that “may” ensue as a result of low salary? Our greatest problem is not with the salary brethrens, it’s the respect for the rule of law. Imagine salary harmonisation was done without the consent of the lawmakers and went into effect but you be justified later. Many law makers pass deals without knowing the consequences attached. I support the salary reductions but first set a punitive measure on corruption at the national legislature. Imagine they have refused to be audited. Low salary is good but then comes the envelop to justify the means.

  13. Miss Hajee,
    You’re right! Without a shred of doubt, corruption is alive and well in most high places of government.

    Please be notified that a form of corruption exists when exorbitant salaries such as those that are being received by lawmakers cannot be harmonized. Also, don’t be misled when a lawmaker states that she or he has not heard anything about harmonization. The legislators of today are more educated than their predecessors of the past 30 or more years. It is highly unlikely that they weren’t cognizant of the government’s attempt to save and curtail excessive spending. On the other hand, the legislators’ argument can be bought, supported or agreed with if they claim that the harmonization process was not voted into law by them.

    The focal points of the foregoing discussion should not forgotten. Liberian legislators earn more money than their counterparts of the United States of America, Britain, Germany, France, Canada, etc. For instance, a sitting US senator earns $174,000 per annum. In Liberia, a sitting Liberian senator earns $16,000 per month or $193,000 per annum. What do you think, Miss Hajee? Does this make sense to you? Our public schools have lots of problems. Hospitals do not have enough medicine or up-to-date equipment.

    Harmonization is very painful. The process of harmonization came about because the Finance Ministry wanted to find ways in which the government’s excessive spending could be curtailed or retrenched. In order for harmonization to take hold, all branches of government must be involved in the process. That includes the legislative branch of government.

    Being involved totally is in the best interest of our country!

  14. If this quotation below embedded in Mr. Koffa’s proposal is accurate, I think the reporter and some praise-singers have missed construed his real intention, which is reducing the salaries of Representatives to about $12,500-a drop in the bucket. I do not believe Mr. Koffa meant well for the Nation. I strongly support Dr. Peter Nesahn’s proposal of $1,500 and 2,500 respectively for Representatives and Senators. Additionally, Liberians must demand for a Constitutional Referendum to ensure that the people set the salaries of government officials, not the other way around. How can we survive when almost 75% of the national budget is used for salaries of the three branches of the Liberian Government? This is insane and does not make any sense.

    This is the quote from Liberia Daily Observer Newspaper.

    “I considerably believe that US$2,500 will be sufficient and I will be willing to vote for a salary cut of US$2,500 for a lawmaker,” Rep. Koffa said.

    Quite honestly, these economic vampires and political hyenas cannot be allowed to continue to loot the meager resources of this Nation under the scheme of salary for doing absolutely nothing for the Liberian people. During the Tolbert’s Administration, I’m told Legislators were paid between 500-700 per month. What could possibly be the reason for paying 15,000 to 16,000 to Legislators in a Nation with an annual budget of less than half a billion? I think this is the real “Voodoo Economic” that Regan spoke about during his days at the US Presidency.

  15. Compatriot Hney:

    The statistics that you produced in your short piece are quite riveting. I could not help but to read them over and over to see the stark realities under which our marginalized populations live.

    And at the same time, President Weah is trekking from one region to another touting his Pro-poor Agenda. I wonder does he sometimes pause to ask himself how the global powers perceive him.

    How can the president present himself as the leader of a country that is very poor and needing help, but by the same token, his senators and representatives are making more than the senators and representatives of the Great United States of America?

    Mind you, it is the same senators and representatives, who often come out during election times, to tell the folks that their crippling poverty is caused by the “Congau man.” They are the masters of the art of divisive politics. And in this regard, they know how to exploit the gullibility of the hapless population.

    By using identity politics, they are able to cajole their constituents to believe that they care about their welfare. But when push comes to shove, they do not care. Their desperation for acting out these roles is motivated by avarice, unbridled greed, and covetousness.

    This crop of leadership is not handed down to the Liberians by some divine, mystical design. It comes as the result of the misinformation of our people by the powers that be. Liberians will have to summon tremendous will and courage to undo this age-old, bad system of governance that has kept the country underdeveloped.

  16. Right. to. be. anonymous,
    You’re 101% right. In order for things to change, we need a collective action. A collective action that is devoid of any warlike activity, but rather through civil disobedience.

    Civil disobedience is powerful! You know that. You’re an erudite person. The strategy of civil disobedience was positively used by Gandhi, the Indian liberation fighter. In the US, Dr. M. L. King Jr. used it successfully to redeem African Americans from the dirt. My dear comrade, we need something like that in Liberia.

    I met a gentleman in the Redlight area recently. He bought a used Modern Chemistry text book for his son. I asked him this question: “Is this chemistry book prescribed by the Ministry of Education”? Said he, “no, but it will help my boy. There’s no special chemistry textbook for his class”.

    What is the direct implication of that? First and foremost, our kids want to learn. No joke! The parents are concerned about education. But our big men and women care less about the usefulness of education. They’re enjoying themselves, so they think. In essence, they’re destroying Liberia.

    Something must be done. Every Liberian who cares about Liberia, must raise his or her voice. We will win the battle.

  17. Mr. Tonyleewaye2013,
    You’re right. A Constitutional Referendum is needed to set or determine the salaries of civil servant employees, lawmakers included.

    The ten-thousand dollar question is how do we get there? The collaborating parties are not concerned about this very important issue. The collaborating parties are concerned about something else. They’re interested in occupying the oval office and nothing else. They’re the same people. They’re dressed up in sheepskin.

    When Dillon ran for election a few weeks ago,voter turnout was unbelievably low. Why did that happen? I heard people say “I cannot vote for your happiness. Every time we vote, y’all don’t do nothing. We must vote for your happiness? When y’all eating all that money, y’all don’t create no jobs”.

    That was sad. It’s true. I am presently in Liberia.

    We must do something, Sir!

    • Thank you Sir.
      You have seen these same people.
      Cummings or anybody from their CoP, PPP, etc will not fool us this time now.
      They brought William Tolbert down but all their ideas were completely useless.

      Liberian be careful:
      1. They can not create 100, 000 Jobs in 3months.
      Lying is the brother to corruption (steeling)?
      2. Only KnowHows on the highest level will get Liberia exporting to the world market.
      Cop doesn’t have such resume or KnowHows.

  18. correction: Lying is the brother to corruption (stealing)?

    • This, “INSANITY” of of Liberia’s Legislators paying themselves excessively extravagant salaries can no longer be tolerated. Let’s invite the Senate Pro Temp and The Speaker of The House of Representatives; to justify to Liberia’s people, why they believe “POOR LIBERIA” should pay LEGISLATORS such high salaries; in one of The World’s Poorest Countries-Liberia. Certainly! It appears, those Legislators who should be representing the best interest of The Liberian People are infact part of “THE DETRIMENT” to Liberia’s progress. What a shame!

  19. Mr. Curran,
    I am afraid you didn’t understand Mr. Fonati’s stated proposal.

    Fonati states that he will vote for a “salary cut of $2,500”. The word “cut” explains it all. It is not the same as being paid $2,500.00 per month.

    According to you sir, you’re a senior Engineer, a former presidential candidate and I suppose many other outstanding qualifications you are noted for but did not disclose. Given those unique qualifications of yours, let’s not get into a debate. Also, let’s not muddle up Rep. Fonati’s position. Fonati does not want to be paid $30,000 per annum. Neither do I.

    My suggestion:
    2,500 × 3 = $7,500.

    So, $15,000 -$7,500 = $7,500.

    $7,500 x 12 = $90,000. At least $90,000 per year isn’t really, really, really bad.

    I can beautifully harmonized it.

    Year one…..deduct $2,500

    Year two…..deduct $2,500 and

    Year three…..deduct $2,500

    Okay Mr. Curran?

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