16 July 2014

Liberia: Two CDC Lawmakers Want Civil Servant Salary Increment

Monrovia — Two Lawmakers from the opposition Congress for Democratic Change (CDC) at the House of Representatives have written the Plenary of the body to consider the increment of civil servants salaries.

The Lawmakers - Representatives Acarous Gray (Montserrado County) and Dr. Bhofal Chambers (Maryland County) in their communication to plenary stressed the need for an increment in the salaries of Teachers, Health Workers, the Police and staffers of the 53rd National Legislature with parity for both staffers of the House and Senate.

"We also seek the consideration of the body to increase the allotment to the University of Liberia to twenty Million United States dollars (US$20M), so as to alleviate or mitigate the many constraints faced by the University, which has often led to disruptions of normal academic activities of that state run institution," the Lawmakersstated in their communication.

According to the two CDC Lawmakers' communication, their decision is driven by the hard cost of living in Liberia, coupled with the low wages and salaries for civil servants and other public servants, thus causing unbearable hardship for people. They also claimed that the situation of lower salaries for Civil servants is detrimental to the peace and security of Liberia and has the propensity to undermine the governance architecture of the nation.

"In view of the foregoing therefore, we ask the indulgence of this August Body, as we are set to commence discussion on the 2014-2015 Fiscal Budget, to consider increment in the salaries of civil servants with specific reference to teachers, health workers, the police and staffers of the 53rd National Legislature with Parity for both staffers of the House and senate, "the communication stated.

Civil servants salary increment has in the past budget years been an issue of national concern with numerous protests from civil society organizations and members of the Liberia Labor sector with Civil servants in the forefront.

During the 2013 budget year, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf during her state of the nation address announced a US$25 increment in the salaries of civil servants in Liberia after the passage of the fiscal year budget by the legislature but no appropriation was made by the legislature for civil servants. Some members of the legislature described the President's comments as one that was intended to score political mark at their detriment.

The Lawmakersjustified their action by saying that their reasons for not making allotment for increment in civil servants salaries at the time, was because the executive Branch of Government through the Finance Ministry requested them to place a hold on such action to allow a payroll cleanup that would have raised over 20 million US dollars from ghost names.

Decent work bill still in limbo

Up to present the legislature is yet to come up with a conclusion on setting a minimum wage with the figure of six and seven US$ as minimum wage being a point of contention. The House of Representatives passed the bill at seven United States dollars per day as the minimum wage for skilled workers, while the Senate is requesting six United States dollars as minimum wage for skilled workers.

Despite the disagreement on a set wage, there are some Lawmakers including Rep. Edwin Snowe (IND-District #6 Montserrado County) who feel the legislature's decision to set a minimum wage is in the wrong direction. Rep. Snowe has called for the setting up of a Minimum wage board and not Lawmakerssetting a Minimum wage for reasons he described as political glorification.

With a budget of over five hundred million United States dollars and so many competing priorities for the government, especially infrastructure, the public is watching to see whether or not to consider an allotment for increment in civil servants salaries or focus more money for roads, and Health.

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