MONROVIA, Montserrado – Montserrado’s Sen. Abraham Darius Dillon has submitted a draft bill seeking to limit the salaries of members of the National Legislature to US$5,000 or its equivalent.
Speaking at a press conference on August 13 at the Capitol Building, the senator said he has already presented the draft bill to the office of the Senate president pro tempore, Albert Chie, which is the first step in presenting a bill to the Senate.
“I have submitted a draft bill to the office of the Senate pro temp seeking to reduce the salaries of all members of the legislature to a maximum of US$5,000 – this is inclusive of all benefits,” he said.
While campaigning for the seat in a by-election in 2019, Dillon promised to only take home US$5,000 in salary. He promised he would give the remaining salary to the people of his county for developmental needs.
In January 2020, Dillon followed up with his promise when he announced he was giving back US$12,000 to the county. He said the amount represented four months’ worth of salaries exceeding the US$5,000 per month he vowed he would take. The move brought even more praise from his many supporters across Montserrado.
Given the current economic constraints in the country, Dillon said lawmakers should not take home such exorbitant salaries at the detriment of the people who elected them.
“Our economy is very bad – we can’t continue like this,” Dillon said. “Our people are suffering. We as leaders need to be sensitive to what affects our people. Look at the health sector – see what’s happening in the country with our health facilities. We must stand for our people.”
If accepted as proposed, Dillon said his bill would seek to reduce salaries and have the funds redirected to the health and education sectors to improve the lives of Liberians.
The Montserrado senator acknowledged that the bill may not be popular with lawmakers because it would mean cutting off a significant amount of benefits they have been enjoying; however, he said he would lobby to convince his colleagues to support the measure.
He asked that lawmakers sacrifice their salaries in the interest of the ordinary people they are representing at the legislature.
Meanwhile, Dillon’s draft bill has been criticized for its brevity and lack of details. The essential part of the bill reads, “The speaker of the House Representatives [sic], President Pro Tempore of the Senate, and members of the legislature shall receive no more than $5,000 in United States dollars or equivalent in Liberian dollars monthly as remunerations for monthly services rendered the republic.”
Lawmakers also receive financing to fund their offices and operations. For example, they are provided with fuel in order to travel to reach their constituents. It is not clear whether Dillon wants these components included in the US$5,000 limit. Moreover, the provision of a fixed value salary may limit the bill’s ability to withstand the test of time, as hyperinflation could render the value of the US$5,000 unreasonable.
Featured photo by Zeze Ballah