As public outrage mounts in the wake of revelations by Nimba County Senator Prince Johnson that Legislators have received payout bonuses of US$6,000 as inducement to affix their signatures of approval to the resolution authorizing the imposition of a State of Emergency, several legislators (names withheld) have shrugged off the charges claiming that the US$6,000 paid to each legislator was actually “operational funds” which have since gone unpaid for a little over two (2) years. This has left the public confused about who is indeed telling the truth.
Addressing himself to the issue, recently, Montserrado County Senator Darius Dillion told journalists that the money which he described as operational funds could not have come at a better time, given current economic hardships arising from the scourge of the coronavirus and the lock-down measures announced by the Government of Liberia intended to curb the spread of the deadly coronavirus disease otherwise referred to as CIVID-19.
Although Senator Dillon has claimed he had no prior knowledge of the existence of such operational fund for legislators, the rising tide of public opinion on this matter has fueled speculations that the money paid was in fact for their (legislators) acquiescence to be recalled from recess in order to deliberate on proposed measures to curb the coronavirus outbreak.
According to a former legislator, name withheld, the total package paid to legislators amount to a staggering sum of US$618,000 which he contends is an inordinate amount of money paid to legislators whose annual salaries plus benefits are in excess of US$180,000 per annum.
The former legislator maintains that if as some lawmakers maintain the money paid was unpaid operational funds, then such should have come from the budget on national claims and not from the 2020-2021 budget as he suspects may have be the case.
Moreover, according to the former lawmaker, the GoL’s decision to pay such huge amounts of money to legislators at this difficult time when the salaries of civil servants have gone unpaid for months is heartless and wicked, noting that they should be the first in line to make such sacrifices on behalf of the people who they claim to represent.
As things now appear, the public is left even more confused about who is telling the truth in view of Senator Prince Johnson’s stance that the money was inducement paid to legislators in order to affix their signatures to the resolution approving recommendations by President Weah to declare a State of Emergency.