GOL could save at least US$5.5 million if VP, 54th Legislature Participate. Will they?
President George Weah received a thunderous round of applause from the 54th Legislature when he announced yesterday, during his first Annual Address to that august body, that he would reduce his monthly salary and benefits by 25 percent.
Having vowed to govern strictly in line with the Liberian Constitution and the oath he took to uphold, protect and defend the country, President Weah said proceeds generated from the cut in his pay “will be deposited to the Consolidated Fund for allocation and appropriation where necessary.”
Consolidated Fund or Consolidated Revenue is the term used in many countries to describe the main bank account of the government.
He then threw up a challenge to members of the Senate and House of Representatives to follow suit in the interest of the Liberian people.
“In the main time, I will urge you ladies and gentlemen to follow my lead in the interest of our constituents,” Weah added.
It is not clear whether President Weah is receiving the same salary and benefits allotments as his predecessor, former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf who, according to her income and assets declaration released in 2017, recorded a gross annual salary of L$1,684,500 and an annual allowance of US$72,000.
The 25% reduction, as promised by President Weah, would amount to L$421,125 (US$3,346.78 at CBL rate of L$125.83/US$1) and US$18,000 deducted from his annual salary and allowances, respectively. Bundled together, Weah’s annual reductions would amount to US$21,346.78.
According to the 2015-2016 National Budget, the salaries and benefits for all members of the House of Representatives combined amounts to US$15,761,542; while the Senators combined receive a total of $6,091,267, bringing the total salaries and benefits of both houses to US$21,852,809.
Following President Weah’s lead, as he suggested to the 54th Legislature, the 25% reduction in combined salaries, based on the total salaries and benefits allotments between the two Houses, would amount to a hefty US$5,463,202.25.
If President Weah succeeds in getting the 54th Legislature to reduce their own salaries by 25% as he has done, the total savings between himself and all 103 members of the august body would amount to nearly $5.5 million, especially if the Vice President’s 25% is included.
“With the assessment that I gave you earlier of the poor condition of our economy, I believe that it is appropriate that we should all make sacrifices in the interest of our country,” the President told the Legislature.
According to Article 60 of the Liberian Constitution, the salaries of the President and the Vice President are established by the Legislature, and cannot be increased or reduced during the period for which they are elected. So the public is yet to understand how the 25 percent deduction President Weah’s salary will be carried out in the absence of approval from the Legislature.