Monrovia — The National Oil Company of Liberia (NOCAL) has denied reports that its annual salary for 37 employees is more than a million United States dollars.
The denial comes in the wake of concerns raised by the Senate that NOCAL interim management was taking huge salary despite several austerity measures being instituted by the government to mitigate the financial difficulties the country is faced with.
A communication from Senator Dallas Gueh of River-Cess County requested plenary to investigate reports that the current management team with a staff members of 37 benefits from a total annual salaries of US$1 million.
The head of the interim management team, Cllr. Althea E. Sherman, appearing before the Senate Committee on Lands, Mines & Energy last Tuesday said, contrary to the US$1 million suspected monthly salary, the 37 employees of the entity earn an accumulated salary of US$67,000.
"Cllr. Sherman, "The monthly salary of 37 employees and contractors is US$63L. The total salary for the 17 months to date is US$1,362,000."
"There is a decline in our personnel bill by 89% comparing to previous management.
"The interim management team and I recognize and embrace our role as public servants and steward of key assets of the Liberia's hydro-carbon sector - a resource which with proper management and investment can transform the lives of the Liberian people.
"We have made it abundantly clear in all our communications and actions that we are committed to NOCAL core values of transparency and accountability."
Speaking further, she said there are only three employees in the company with the rest of the staffers being contractors.
Speaking on the issues of travels she said, the management has made seven business trips during its tenure.
"There are times we make personal trips, let me be clear, consistent with our commitment to integrity, accountability and proper management of government, we do not use government resources for personal reasons," she added.
"We have a GAC audit on the way to cover the next four years."
"From August to December, we have had no business trips."
"We focused on putting in strategies to robustly manage resources and especially financial and human resources to re-stabilize the company and have it running," she said.
Despite making the clarity on the salary structure, Sen. Gueh said NOCAL needs to give an update of its full operational activities for the past 18 months, especially in terms of austerity measures and other reforms instituted to revive the institution.
He expressed fear that if the interim management team is not monitored and checked regularly, Liberia's oil program may sink further into the abyss and may be very difficult to resurrect.
"I would therefore request that the Senate committees on Lands, Mines and Energy and Public Corporations conduct an investigation into operations, programs, activities and finances of NOCAL since the incumbency of the interim management team," he stated.