The New Dawn (Monrovia)

Liberia: Free Zone Employees Complain

Redundant employees of the Liberia Industrialization Free Zone Authority (LIFZA) are demanding a balance of halfa million United States Dollars in salary and allowance arrears owed them by the Government of Liberia. Over 90 former workers of LIFZA are claiming L$5, 554, 105.00 in salaries and US$323,070.00 in allowances.

They said both the Civil Service Agency and Finance Ministry accepted their claim as genuine and authentic, placing them among the Domestic Arrears of the Government.

"Thereupon, the Finance Ministry during the tenure of Augustine Ngafuan paid/ disbursed to us a fraction leaving the balance still owed by government as indicated," they lamented.

In a 2-page letter addressed to President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf dated 13 December, 2012, the former LIFZA employees stated, among other things, that since their redundancy in 2007, they have meetings with officials of the Department of Debt Management and Expenditure at the Finance Ministry in an effort to have their arrears paid.

"We have exercised patience and tolerance since then, but authorities at the Finance Ministry have, several occasions procrastinated and denied us any payments,including last year's Christmas in 2011 and this coming Christmas in 2012," they noted.

The communication, under the signature of Andrew D. Bropleh, Former Administrative Manager for LIFZA's Redundant Employees, recounted that they wrote 3 and 4separate letters to the former and current Finance Ministers, Augustine Ngafuan and Amara Konneh, but their plea and demands were not given the requisite attention.

Advancing further, the LIFZA's ex-workers alleged that Konneh, on his own initiative, deliberately disapproved any payment citing infrastructure as reasons.They described such justifications as unreasonable, bearing in mind the patience they have long endured.

"We, therefore, have no other alternative, but to forward our grievances and petition to 'you (Madam President)', for appropriate favorable action."

In reminding the President, they said though the Finance Ministry has not settled their arrears, an office for a "skeleton staff of LIFZA" was established with new employees and substantial budgetary appropriation provided.

The Liberian Industrialization Free Zone Authority (LIFZA) headquarters is at home to the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) Bushrod Island.

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