Lawmakers Want Finance Ministry Officials to Explain Continuing Salary Cuts

MONROVIA, Montserrado – Nimba’s seventh district representative, Roger Domah, has written the House of Representatives to invite authorities of the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning to give reasons for the continuing new cuts in the salaries of legislative staff.

Roger disclosed in his communication to the House last Tuesday that since the passage of the 2019/2020 budget into law, staffers of the National Legislature and some employees of the government have experienced unending monthly salary cuts, despite being affected by the general salary harmonization exercise.

“I request the appearance of the leadership of the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning, along with all relevant authorities, to explain circumstances responsible for these unexplained actions which have the propensity of demotivating our staffers and subsequently undermining our respective legislative functions,” he wrote.

“A member of the aggrieved staffers, including staffers of my office, have supplied me with bank transaction records which show reductions in their payments.”

He said since the passage of the current budget, which sets salaries for civil servants and legislative staffers, there has been no legislative approval for such reductions, or a recast of the budget. According to him, any reductions in the salaries of employees without the consent of the legislature amounts to violation.

Prior to the passage of the current budget, the Finance Ministry and Civil Service Agency began implementing a wage harmonization exercise to reduce the government’s wage bill from 60 to at least 40 percent of the total revenue.

The exercise was meant to eliminate waste and abuse and improve pay and standardized management of human resources across government. This was a requirement for the International Monetary Fund’s economic recovery program.

As a result of the exercise, many government employees who already faced the problem of low salary continue to complain about the inconsistencies in their salaries.

A staff working at the legislature who spoke to The Bush Chicken only on conditions of anonymity said despite a cut in his salary from L$13,000 (US$67) to L$10,000 (US$51) as a result of the harmonization, he still experiences additional cuts at the end of each month.

Bong’s sixth district representative, Moimah Briggs-Mensah, also disclosed that she has also been experiencing the cut in her pay.

“Myself, I have been experiencing cuts in my salary – I don’t know what is going on,” Briggs-Mensah said. She called on the speaker of the House, Bhofal Chambers, to take step in and address the concern. She was buttressed by Margibi’s third district representative, Ellen Attoh-Wreh.

Rep. Attoh-Wreh, who explain being a victim of the additional pay cut, also supported inviting authorities of the Finance Ministry and other relevant authorities to explain the reasons for their actions.

“When it happened at first, I thought it was because of the exchange rate. But I don’t think so, because I tried doing the calculation but the difference was too huge. So, I don’t think it’s because of the exchange rate,” she said.

The communication was forwarded to the House’s Committee on Ways, Means, and Finance through a motion raised by Grand Cape Mount’s third district representative, Emerson Kamara. The committee is now expected to work with the controller of the House and report to the general body in one week.

Featured photo by Ida Reeves

Ida Reeves

Ida Reeves holds a bachelor's degree from the University of Liberia in Mass Communications and Sociology. She graduated from the Young Political Leadership School and has worked in the past for Farbric Radio, Freedom Radio, and Frontier newspaper.

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