MONROVIA, Montserrado – Montserrado’s Senator Darius Dillon has announced that he is returning US$$12,000 of his four-month salary to the county.
The announcement was made in line with a commitment the lawmaker had made following his induction as senator. Dillon said he would take only US$5,000 of his monthly income as senator and remit the rest to the county for development.
The lawmaker’s commitment followed a campaign promise he made to publicly declare his assets and reduce his salary, amid the challenging state of the economy and relatively high salaries of lawmakers.
Dillon had revealed that senators make a total of US$15,000 a month, including some non-cash benefits. After tax, Dillon said senators receive US$7,994, as a result of the government’s pay harmonization exercise. Members of the Senate had voted to reduce their salaries by 30 percent as part of efforts to meet the requirements for the International Monetary Fund’s economic recovery program.
Dillon said he has been paid for August, September, October, and November 2019 since he was inducted last year, meaning the net amount he received was US$31,976. Taking US$20,000 for himself for the four months as promised, Dillon presented US$12,000 to the county.
Dillon said the approximately US$5,000 monthly was enough for him to take home. The leaders of the 17 districts of Montserrado would decide on how to use the rest of his salary, he said. He encouraged his colleagues in the legislature to follow suit.
“It means every month we will be saving our country about US$600,000 per month times 12 months will be US$7 million,” he said.
Dillon said he would continue to demonstrate his commitment by continuing to take only US$5,000 of his monthly salary throughout his term as senator.
“If we even increase our salaries to US$100,000, Darius Dillon will take US$5,000 and give the US$95,000 to the county,” he emphasized.
While the narrative being spun in the Monrovia-centric media is that Dillon is the first lawmaker to make such a move, another lawmaker actually preceded Dillon in giving a portion of his salary back to the people.
In June 2018, Rep. Ivar Jones of Margibi’s second district presented two separate cheques – one for US$15,000 and the other for L$475,000 (US$3,345) – to his constituents as fulfillment of a campaign pledge to give half of his salary back. In Jones’ case, the district’s development council was responsible for deciding how to spend the money. The cheques represented salaries from February to June, according to Jones.
Featured photo by Zeze Ballah