5 May 2014

Liberia: 'Political Glorification' - Snowe Warns Against Setting Minimum Wage

Monrovia — As the debate intensifies over the setting up of minimum wage in Liberia, a lawmaker has warned that such law will not benefit the country and it is only meant for political glorification.

Representative Edwin Snowe (IND -District#6 Montserrado County) has warned his colleagues against setting a Minimum Wage for workers in the Country.

Rep. Snowe warned that a Minimum wage for workers in Liberia should be done by the Minimum Wage Board that has been enacted by legislation, noting that any attempt by lawmakers to set a Minimum wage will mean they are carrying out the function of the board.

He also called on his colleagues to repeal the act establishing a Minimum Wage Board if for any reason they want to perform the function of the board because according to him when laws are enacted by the legislature, signed by the president and printed into handbill it is no longer a legislative issue.

Snowe said: "The responsibility of the Minimum Wage Board is to set minimum wage for the workforce. When the legislature enacts laws and pass the bill and it is signed by the president and printed in hand bill it is no longer legislative issue. If for any reason the board doesn't perform, it is our responsibility to call them to order but for us as legislature to do it only for political glorification, I think it is wrong.

Snowe who's Motion for reconsideration was tried and defeated by plenary last Thursday said, he doesn't in any way oppose the passage of the decent work bill but the setting up of a minimum wage by the legislature.

Snowe's Motion for Reconsideration was defeated Thursday after the lawmakers returned from their two weeks ester break. The motion was defeated after the votes were taken twice and was tied with 16 for and 16 against something many in the legislature said, has not happened for a long period of time. The Tie was broken by Deputy Speaker Hans Barchue who presided over the day's session after two vote's count, which is the first time in the workings of the 53rd National legislature.

Snowe, a month ago filed a motion for reconsideration against the passage into law of the Decent Work Bill which is setting up of a minimum wage after the legislature House of Representatives Plenary voted in majority to pass the bill.

"This fight is not about Edwin Snowe because no multilateral company in Liberia now pays less than five dollars their employees the impact is on the common people. I can say for free here today, nobody that work for me receives less than five dollars as minimum wage. No minimum wage person can employ somebody, the legislature must start to talk about job creation and not political glorification," he added.

He described as false arguments proffered by some of his colleagues that Minimum wage in most countries around the world are set by legislators noting that statistics show that 70% of countries around the world especially in Africa minimum wages are set by specialized bodies.

Contrary to his colleague's argument Representative Acarous Gray (CDC-District #8 Montserrado County) argues that in 1962 when a minimum wage board was established, a minimum wage was set at USD$ 2.00 per day by the very legislature who legislated the Minimum wage board. He described Snowe's motion for reconsideration as a calculated attempt to stall the passage of the bill and setting a minimum wage for the ordinary Liberians.

Asked if lawmakers are aware of the current poor state of the economy amid inflation and increase in prices of basic commodities, coupled with budget shortfalls, Rep. Gray said: "We cannot be using scare tactics, be reminded that we boosted about a booming economy through the sustenance of a billion dollar investment in our country. We have to get away from this scare tactics."

The Montserrado County CDC lawmaker described the passage of the decent work bill as a mission accomplished because according to him that was one of his commitments to his electorates during the 2011 campaigning period.


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