‘We’ll Revisit Judges’ Harmonized Salaries When Revenue Improves’

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Minister Samuel D. Tweah, Jr.

-Finance Minister Tweah

Judges and Magistrates who were using the Constitution to challenge government’s harmonization exercise that greatly affected their salaries will now have to wait indefinitely to see if the country’s revenue generation capacity would improve to the point that the Weah Administration will see fit to restore their (judges) original salaries.

On Friday, January 31, Finance Minister Samuel D. Tweah, Jr. appeared before members of the National Association of Trial Judges of Liberia (NATJL) to discuss the mechanism used during the harmonization process that drastically reduced the salaries of the judges.

In his power point presentation, Tweah dramatically defended the harmonization exercise by saying that, “nothing can be done now, because the decision came from our international partners. But, you, whenever the revenue generation improves we will be looking back at your harmonized salaries.”

Upon hearing this, many of the judges expressed their annoyance with the Finance Minister by walking out of the conference hall in protest.

Another drama ensued when the President of the NATJL, Criminal Court ‘A” Resident Judge Roosevelt Willie, asked his members not to ask Minister Tweah any question following the minister’s power point presentation. This request, Judge Willie eventually withdrew, followed a silent interactions with Minister Tweah.

It was during the question and answer that the judges made Minister Tweah to understand from their perspective the disparity that was involved with the harmonization exercise.

Initially, Minister Tweah had said that there was no disparity within the harmonization exercise, because employees were placed into categories, of which the process placed judges and government ministers into what he considered as “Category C.”

To the astonishment and surprise of the judges, Minister Tweah said that those found in the same category will be earning the same salaries.

Shortly after, Minister Tweah’s disclosure, the judges informed the minister that there is disparity within those placed in Category C. According to them, the harmonization reduced government ministers’ salaries from that of US$7,000 to US$5,000, while judges were reduced from US$5,000 to US$3,000 and both are placed in the same Category C.

Before the harmonization process, Judges were making US$5,000 as monthly salaries; however, the harmonization exercise reduced that to US$3,000, which reduction necessitated the judges to communicate with Chief Justice Francis Korkpor to meet Minister Tweah face to face to discuss about the drastic reduction of their take-home pay, as well as the violation of Article 72 (a) of the 1986 Constitution, which has to do with judges’ salaries.

Article 72 (a) 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 shall not otherwise be diminished. Allowances and benefits paid to Justices of the Supreme Court and judges of subordinate courts may by law be increased but may not be diminished except under a national program enacted by the Legislature; nor shall such allowance and benefits be subject to taxation.”

It was against this background that Minister Tweah appeared before the judges to address the issue relating to the government’s harmonization exercises, of which he said, “nothing can be done now, because the decision came from our international partners. But, you, whenever the revenue generation improved we will be looking back at your harmonized salaries.”

Minister Tweah also explained that the harmonization and standardization was backed by an act of the legislature, and thus, did not violate any portion of the Constitution, as claimed by the judges.

Tweah also informed the judges that they are very much important to the economic development of the country. As such, the government is going to look into their concern only if they (government) were to be successful to retire the over 4000 employees and reduce the over 1,000 ghost names that they have identified on the government payroll.

“Your salaries concern will be addressed if we are successful to retire the over 4000 employees who have reached the retirement age and those ghost names on the payroll, then we are going to improve on your salaries,” Tweah noted.

“You are our priority and once we identify the source to improve our revenue generation we are going to improve on your request. For now, we cannot say anything about your concern. We are going to struck a partnership only if the ghost names were to be cleared,” Minister Tweah did not promise the judges.

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.

8 COMMENTS

  1. Stop receiving bribes. you guys keeps undermining the revenue intake of the country. Many people have no faith in the legal system. God has become the Judge. It better you pay your tithes and let God judge be the judge than to go to the court in Liberia where a case lies on the docket til infinity.

  2. Do I hear that judges in Ghana, where we run for even headache, make less than $2000?

    Ghana government budget is $15b compared to Liberia of $500m

  3. We don’t do that in administration Mr. Minister. Reduce judges’ salaries from $5,000 to $3,000 (40% reduction) and Ministers’ salaries from $7,000 to $5,000 (28.57% reduction) is not fair if you want to harmonize.

    We strongly believe that to effectively curb corruption, our president, lawmakers, judges and affiliates, customs officers, the army and the police must be paid decent wages.
    To improve the living standards of our people and make the country intellectually competitive, professors and teachers should equally be paid decent wages.
    Doing the contrary will only worsen things in Liberia.

    Mr. President raise the country’s budget to $2 billion as instructed by Cummings. If you don’t know how to do it, we can’t eat crab with shame. See the guy on the side. He can help you.
    I finish oh! Small shame better than big shame oh!

  4. Petarus Dolo

    I always enjoy reading your short essays and the great insights, which you often bring to the discussion Mr. Dolo. And if may state an opinion on your latest posting:

    This president is egomaniacal and he and his lieutenants are incapable to relate to, “…the guy on the side.” It is sad when individuals or organizations cannot examine their own values, beliefs and perceptions with the goal of bringing development to the people they lead.

    If one could read another person’s mind and take a psycho-analytical tour of what and how Weah thinks, he or she would be surprised to find out Weah’s followers have made him to believe and have sacked him up with so many false values to the point where he even thinks that he is intellectually equal to Cummings or even better.

    This is the root of the evils that are afflicting Him and sadly trickling down to the poor citizenry.

  5. Thank you, my friend. Unfortunately, I cannot call you by your name because it is your right to be anonymous.

    Sadly, we do not have 3 branches of government. We have the executive with all powers to dictate to the judiciary and the legislature. We have KING GEORGE, His royal highness!

    If I were in that house and the president presented an annual budget of 525 million with 98 million going towards servicing external debts alone (18.67% of annual), I would question him to ensure if my annual emolument were guaranteed.
    If I were in that house and the president presented an annual budget of 525 million (81.33% left), I would question the quality of roads he had projected for the fiscal year 2020.
    If I were in that house and the president is worried about reduction in remittances flowing into the country, I would ask him if he had ever heard the words GDP or GNP. If yes, what he were doing to improve them.

    My people, hold your heart again oooooh!. We told you, you couldn’t listen. They will kick us around like football. By the time they are done, we will look like a 5-year Jallah’s Town’s football once owned by Fallah!

    Peace, no more war, I beg of you all1 yah!

  6. The great American Economist Milton Friedman once said, “The great virtue of a free market system is that it does not care what color people are; it does not care what their religion is; it only cares whether they can produce something you want to buy. It is the most effective system we have discovered to enable people who hate one another to deal with one another and help one another.”

    After two years of President Weah’s government dismal economic performance, now is the time for President Weah to put Liberia first over party. Now is the time for President Weah to do a complete overhaul of personnel in his government.

    Now is the time for President Weah to get rid of people who are functioning poorly in his government: mainly, his Economic Team; Min. Tweah, Min. Tarpeh, Mayor Koijee, Mr. McGill, and some of his close advisors.

    After two rough years, it is time for performance evaluation. It is time to bring in seasoned professionals: people with requisite experience and knowledge to help move Liberia forward irrespective of party affiliation.
    President Weah primary duty is to serve the people of Liberia. This is the cardinal reason he was elected and took the oath as President of Liberia. If he fails to realize this, then, his economic and political opportunists around him will surely bring him down.

    Minister Tweah and the President “so called” economic team seem not to know how to grow the economy. Therefore, they are coming up with patch-work (temporary) solutions: salary reduction and removal of ghost names from the payroll: when they know very well Lawmakers salaries take up huge among of Liberia’s meager budget.

    Do Min. Tweh and his economic team have long term economic strategies to grow Liberia’s economy?

    Look at Ghana. Ghana tourism ministry just pumped in US$1B into Ghana economy from tourism. President Nana Akufo-Addo and his tourism board traveled to the Caribbean Nations and the United States to sell his ingenious marketing strategy called “The Year of Return” that attracted many people of African descent in the diaspora to visit Ghana.

    Who is promoting Liberia tourism and business climate around the world? We say Liberia is open for business: what tax incentives is this government giving to attract foreign and local businesses? How is this government going to reduce monopoly and create a climate for fair business practices and open up a competitive free market system? Competition drives down prices.

    It is all about putting the right economic system in place.

    As the late American Economist Milton Friedman states: it all about putting in a free market system that does not discriminate.

  7. The Supreme Court should just do what it did when both the Executive and legislative branches called upon it to help throw out an Associate Justice, Justice Ja’neh from the Highl Court , and was greatly rewarded for its efforts. Elections are coming, and the Supreme Court will be hearing a lot of cases concerning electoral frauds. That is the time to secure and recover the money that was taken from the salaries. As always, the Executive Branch is involved and is interested in who wins the election. So make some political money from the highest bidder. Desperate measures equal desperate opportunity. Like they say in politics, money talks and Bullshit walks. If the Executive Branch can’t pay for their candidates to win an electoral case, the opposition can . That’s money talks. That’s how it was done in the case of the Associate Justice, Justice Ja’neh when he was booted from the High Court of the land because the opposition could not matched the Executive funded clandestine operations to boot the Associate Justice from the Court. Don’t be mad , but be happy that elections opportunities have presented a way out to recover that which was lost in salaries.

  8. Alpha Conneh, Perhaps what we need in Liberia is leadership, not just the free market system. We need a leader who knows what a free market system looks like, not one who is refusing to learn.

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