The House of Representatives last Thursday once again proved that they strongly believe the people elected them not to seek the people’s interest but that of themselves—the House members.
But who is to blame but the PEOPLE themselves, the ELECTORATE, who put in power these people, so many of whom are a greedy, selfish, in-compassionate, inhumane and uncaring bunch of people?
These are desperate times in Liberia, when the Liberian government itself faces serious economic and financial difficulties, triggering the budget shortfall and the drastic decline of the Liberian dollar.
If the people’s government can’t make ends meet, what about the ordinary people? They are feeling not the pinch but the bite and the blight (affliction, scar) of their government’s pain. Liberians are today experiencing the worst financial crisis in recent times. They have never suffered so much economic hardship since the restoration of democratic governance. It is so bad that the government says it has difficulty finding money to pay even the media, on which government depends to relate to the people.
All the essential costs have escalated—food; transport; fuel; water; and education because all educational institutions say they, too, are seriously affected by the current economic downturn.
But worse yet, just think of our poor people in the interior, who can hardly afford one good meal a day because the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) says there is severe food insecurity in Liberia, due to the failure of our agriculture over the past several years. Even the nation’s leading breadbaskets, Lofa, Bong and Nimba counties, are facing food insecurity. Liberians, despite their fertile land and abundant rainfall EVERYWHERE, are STARVING.
And remember the tens of thousands of our youth, from age six up, not in school, but selling candy, towels and rat poison on the streets as breadwinners for their impoverished families.
This is the time Members of the House of Representatives have chosen to pass a law giving what our Legislative Correspondent Keith Morris has called “a fabulous” pension package for the leaders in ALL branches of government, who are already among the best paid people in the country! The bill seeks to award the President, Vice President, the Legislators themselves and members of the Supreme “50% of their salaries and 25% of their benefits monthly for life upon their retirement—and much more! And when such officials die, these benefits will extend to their spouses and children, for life!
The House could not have chosen a worse time to pass this heartless, unconscionable, unscrupulous bill, which clearly portrays its members as totally insensitive to the suffering of the Liberian people. All these lawmakers ALWAYS think about is THEMSELVES.
Worse yet, just think about WHO some of these House members are. You have the likes of Edwin Snowe, who presented the bill to the House. Has the public forgotten who Edwin Snowe really is?
Does the public remember Representative Edward Forh of District No. 16 in Montserrado County who was caught in the Social Development Fund scandal? It was he whom Montserrado Superintendent Grace Kpaan recorded on tape suggesting that she share between himself, herself and then Internal Affairs Minister Blamo Nelson US$400,000 from Montserrado’s Social Development Funds. “You eat, I eat and the MIA Minister eat,” he told Supt. Kpaan, in a blatant attempt to cheat Montserrado people of money intended for county development.
There is also Rep. Thomas Fallah of District No. 5, who diverted SDF money to his personal use.
The House got angry with Superintendent Kpaan for exposing their members in their corruption, and did not rest until the President unceremoniously removed her from office.
Is it surprising, then, that these are the likes of the House members who passed that bill endowing themselves so lavishly and saying to hell with the Liberian impoverished masses?
We urge the Senate to reject that bill; but if this body, which also has been known to have often acted selfishly in the past, passes it, too, we call on the President to veto the pension bill. The Liberian economy simply cannot afford it. It would be a slap in the face of Liberia’s suffering masses.