In the wake of protest by some employees of the finance and planning ministries who feel threatened about losing their jobs as a result of a merger process, plenary of the House of Representatives Thursday passed into law the bill calling for the merger of the finance and planning ministries and setting aside of the Revenue authority as a semi autonomous agency.
The House of Representatives passed the bill with over thirty Representatives voting in favor of the passage of the bill with only four voting against the bill.
The bill was immediately submitted the senate for concurrence and plenary's decision comes as a result of a report submitted to that august body by the joint committees on ways, means and finance, Judiciary, Planning and Economic Affairs and good Governance which recommended in the passage of the bill.
Representing the four committees Representative Emmanuel Nuquay (up-District#3 Margibi County) and chair on the ways, Means and Finance committee who served as lead during the process of hearing told plenary that concerns raised by the employees are was addressed in the bill.
'Finance employees will be transferred'
Rep. Nuquay said employees currently employed at the ministry of Finance would be transferred to the Revenue authority with the exception of those under investigation of criminal charges.
He also told plenary that the division of population coordinating unit incubated into the planning ministry will be independently funded into the next budgetary year and that those who may not fit into the new staffing pattern will be redundant and compensated in accordance with the laws of Liberia.
During discussion before the passage of the bill Grand Kru Representative Numenine Bartekwa disagreed with the passage of the bill because according to him it will cause more harm than good.
He cited the merging of the ministries of rural development and the public works as an example of a merger processes that has had no positive impact on the Liberian people, because according to him the ministry of rural development whose function was to provide safe drinking water for rural communities is no longer providing the service as a result of a merger.
Representatives Numennie Bartekwa of Grand Kru County, Edwin Snowe of Montserrado County, and Clearance Massaquoi of Lofa County are among those who voted against the passage of the bill.
Over five hundred (500) employees and staff of the Finance and Planning ministries are feeling threatened that the deal provides no job security, in the wake of Government latest decision to merge the two ministries.
As a result of the employees fear they Tuesday petitioned the Legislature expressing their disappointment in the government's decision to merge the ministries, without addressing their concerns.
The employees though did not oppose the bill that will ensure the merger of the two government entities but said, they are displeased about the way the process is being carried out.
According to the aggrieved employees in a petition statement presented to the House of representative Chair on claims and petition Rep. Gabriel Nyenkan, they are surprised that the exercise intends to render nearly ninety percent of the combined employees of the dissolved ministries jobless.
They claimed that the process, which saw the merger, was without adherence to the relevant provisions of the executive laws and civil service standing order that should govern such activities and procedures.
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 would focus on encouraging employees transition from public to private service through a voluntary retirement scheme with attractive benefits attached.