Amidst these concerns that over five hundred (500) employees and staff of the Finance and Planning ministries will lose their jobs in the wake of Government latest decision to merge the two ministries, the National Steering Committee on the Act Creating the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning and the Liberia Revenue Authority, has assured aggrieved workers of the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Planning and Economic Affairs that no employee would be thrown out "in the street" as a consequence of the reform.
In a joint meeting with the workforce on September 11, 2013, Minister Amara Konneh clarified the reform initiative and the steps being taken to address personnel grievances.
"We will make sure that all employees are taken care of. There is a roadmap for it that makes sense..." assured Minister Konneh who along with Dr. Amos Sawyer, Chairman of the Governance Commission and George Werner, Director General of Civil Service Agency addressed employees of the Ministry on Wednesday, September 11, 2013.
Minister Konneh said the planned merger takes into consideration the plights of employees of the two Ministries and clarified that no employee would be unnecessarily redundant.
Minister Konneh assured that the merger process is not intended to take people out of government and that government has put in place mechanisms to ensure employees receive their legitimate benefits in consonant with the civil servants laws of Liberia.
Minister Konneh disclosed the merger Committee is currently assessing the skills and qualifications of employees for consideration in positions that commiserate with their status after the merger process is concluded. He called on the employees to remain calm.
For his part, the Director General of the Civil Servant Agency, George Werner disclosed his agency will ensure the rights of civil servants at the two ministries are protected under the law during the merger process which according to him would be implemented through four distinct phases.
He said phase one of the process will focus on retirees - employees who have served government for 25 years and above or have reached the age of 65 and above as first step leading to the merger. Mr. Werner hinted that phase two will focus on encouraging employees transition from public to private service through a voluntary retirement scheme with attractive benefits attached.
He said phase three of the exercise will focus on contractors whose tenure he said are guaranteed till the end of their contracts.
The CSA boss further noted that phase four of the merger process will focus on the redirection of employees to positions in other ministries and agencies where their skills are most needed.
Also addressing the employees, Dr. Amos Sawyer of the Governance Commission said the merger is part of government's efforts to decentralize governance functions throughout the country to enable citizens to return to their respective counties with jobs.
According to him, the merger is also intended to eliminate duplication of functions in government to ensure a sizable and affective public service work force.
On Tuesday, the employees jointly petitioned the Legislature Tuesday expressing their disappointment in the government's decision to merge the two ministries.
Even though the employees seem not to be opposing the bill that will ensure the merger of the two government entities, they stated in their petition that they are not happy with the manner in which the whole merger process is being carried out.
The aggrieved employees in a petition statement presented to the House of representative Chair on claims and petition Gabriel Nyenkan, said they are surprised that the exercise intends to render nearly ninety percent of the combined employees of the merged ministries jobless.
The Finance and Planning workers claimed that the process is proceeding without adherence to the relevant provisions of the executive laws and civil service standing order that should govern such activities and procedures.
"All documentations available to us have effectively precluded that the Civil service Agency Director General shall prescribe procedures whereby layoff off Civil servants may be accomplished as enshrined in section 66.35, of the Executive Law of Liberia," they stated in their petition to the august body.
They also argued that documents in the possession of civil servants at the Ministry of Finance have proved that the policy think tank named and styled "African Center for Economic Transformation" contravenes existing laws governing Civil servants and their institutions.
The employees amongst several things recommended that; the process of institutional reform be an all-inclusive event comprising of all major stakeholders including but not limited to the impoverished working class; that the current laws on pension and layoff be amended in order to conform to today's economic realities; and that the Civil Service Agency which is recognized by statute be the only competing and responsible agency to lead the process.
Representative Gabriel Nyenkan (UP-District#12 Montserrado County) chair on the House of Representative committee on claims and petition received the petition and promised to communicate it to plenary of the House of Representatives.
Recently the committees on Governance and ways means and finance conducted a public hearing on the act setting the revenue department at the finance Ministry as an autonomous agency and the merger of the planning and finance Ministries.
The hearing brought together prominent individuals, civil society organizations, and professors from the State Run University, economist and political actors to debate the bill. The bill currently lies in committee room awaiting passage, and there seems to be a high legislative will to ensure the smooth sailing of the bill.