30 January 2013

Liberia: Lawmaker Describes Ellen's Pronouncement Oversight

Representative Moses Acarous Gray has asserted that the pronouncement made by President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf for the increment of civil servants and security personnel salaries is an oversight. He averred that the President's pronouncement is rather a proposal made for members of the Legislature to act upon, adding that: "remember we have a budget law."

He indicated that the nation's budget law states clearly that upon the payroll clean-up exercise of ghost names, civil servants' salaries would increase. Rep. Gray, who represents Montserrado County District #8 on the ticket of the opposition Congress for Democratic Change (CDC) in the Legislature, made these assertions Monday, 29 January 2013 when he spoke in a telephone interview on the populous local radio talk show, Truth Breakfast Show, simulcast on Truth FM radio and Real TV.

But in her Annual Message to the Second Session of the 53rd Legislature Monday, President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf emphatically stated that "as a result of preliminary work done in the payroll clean-up exercise and the savings realized there from, each civil servant will get an increment of US$25 in their basic salaries that will be paid retroactively from July 1, 2012."

Said the Liberian leader: "I have extended this benefit to the security sector and the AFL as well. I have also instructed the Minister of Finance to make this back-payment within ten days." However, Rep. Gray maintained: "That is an oversight on the part of the President, because we first and foremost have to identify the sources of the funding," noting that the payroll clean-up exercise has not been conclusive.

The Montserrado County District #8 lawmaker accentuated that the budget law is very clear, indicating that the budget law states that predicated upon the payroll clean-up exercise, civil servants' salaries would be increased.

Contrary to President Johnson-Sirleaf's US$25 increment pronouncement, Rep. Gray said he is of the conviction that following the completion of the payroll clean-up exercise, civil servants would have had more than a US$50 salary increment on the basis of what he terms projection presented to the Legislature during the process of the budget hearing.

He pointed out that the right way to have proceeded with civil servants' salaries increment is for the source of funding to have firstly been identified in the budget and made known by the Executive Branch to the Legislature, from which a decision for approval would be made by the august body.

Rep. Gray added: "I think the President's statement was overdriven and the appropriate action would be taken by the Legislature-we [lawmakers] are waiting to see when this proposal will be read on the floor [the Plenary of the Legislature] and the right action will be taken."

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