Liberia: Cash-Strapped Liberia Must Reject Representatives Eyeing Senate Seats

THE LIBERIAN ECONOMY is struggling to stay above water. For months now, civil servants have had their salaries slashed and the much-touted and controversial wage harmonization scheme undertaken by the government through the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning and the Civil Service Agency (CSA) has caused a lot of heartaches and setbacks for families across the country.

THE SCHEME, according to the government is aimed at maintaining and implementing a sustainable Public-Sector Personnel and Wage Bill Management System.

SINCE THE PROGRAM came into effect, both houses of the national legislature, the Upper and Lower House agreed to reduce their salaries from the 36% proposed by the Lower House to 26% reduction.

THE REDUCTION which is effected in the fiscal year 2019/2020 budget includes with massive cuts to lawmakers' salaries and benefits.

IN ADDITION TO CUTS to members of both houses and various government entities have taken a hit. Citing the state of the economy and poor revenue generation in the case of autonomous entities like the Liberia Electricity Corporation (LEC) which announced a 30 percent pay cut last year, many entities have seen budget slashed under the guise of harmonization

THE MINISTRIES of National Defense and Public Works also reduced the salaries of the civil servants in the midst of severe hardship.

AHEAD OF THE DECEMBER 8, 2020 Midterm Senatorial elections, at least 13 members of the lower house are posed to be on the ballot, creating more vacuums in the lower house and raising the possibility of more By-Elections in the new year owing to the likelihood that some of those lower house members ascend to the upper house.

Among them: Jeremiah Koung(Nimba), Prince Moye(Bong), Vincent Willie(Bassa), Thomas Fallah(Montserrado), Ben Fofana(Margibi)Ivar Jones(Margibi) Crayton Duncan(Sinoe), Zoe Pennue(Grand Gedeh), Dr. Samah... .Lofa Edwin Snowe(Bomi)Manbu Sonii(Cape Mount), Nathaniel Bahway(Grand Kru), Alfred Koiwood(Gbarpolu) and Mariamu Fofana(Lofa).

IN THE POSSIBILITY that all of those seeing ascension to the upper house do win their seats, taxpayers and a government strapped for cash will be left to foot the bill of more by-elections.

FOR A COUNTRY CRYING poor and low on cash, the repeated practice of lower house members trying their luck at winning seats in the Senate in alarming.

IN RECENT MONTHS, the practice has been so rampant that recently-elected members of the lower house, announced their quest to seek seats in the Senate within a year of winning election.

A CASE IN POINT, Representative Samuel R. Enders, who in less than a year after winning his seat in the 2017 general election as an independent in Montserrado County District No. 6, tried his luck and lost bigly.

REP. EDWIN MELVIN Snowe, who fought a tough battle to change his representation from Montserrado County District No. 6 to Bomi District No. 1, is now seeking the Senatorial representation from Bomi County.

THIS WEEK, Montserrado County Senatorial candidate Siah Tandanpolie joined a chorus of Liberians in issuing a caution to eligible voters, against making decisions in the interest of politicians who are using taxpayers' monies to engage into quick impact projects in a bid to win their minds ahead of the much-anticipated senatorial election in Liberia.

MADAM TANDANPOLIE is the daughter of fallen Montserrado County Representative Moses Saah Tandanpolie, and a member of the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC), who is running as an independent

MADAM TANDANPOLIE urged Liberians against licking the honey for a day only to suffer for nine years., urging potential voters to reject sitting candidates who are bent on imposing additional economic burdens on the state by participating in the senatorial election even though they are members of the House of Representatives.

SADLY, IN MOST JURISDICTIONS around the world, candidates are allowed to contest more than one elections - and while it would be an infringement of fundamental rights to keep a member of the lower House from seeking a seat in the upper House, common sense dictates that it is against best practice for legislators in a poor country like Liberia should help the country safe money by simply avoiding situations that would lead to the create vacuums and put the government into more unnecessary expenditures.

NOT A DAY GOES by when there are not Liberians, particularly those lingering at the bottom of the economic ladder, asking the million-dollar question: Where have we gone wrong? Why are people continuing to suffer? Why is it that increasing number of mothers are becoming breadwinners because fathers simply cannot deliver? Why are so many Liberians living on the fringes of poverty while a select few repeatedly enjoy? Why is it that bad governance continues to wreak havoc in Africa's oldest republic, to its own detriment?

THERE ARE SO MANY blames to go around but the answer lies simply in Liberians tolerance and encouragement of the bad over the good.

UNTIL LIBERIANS begin to make good governance a priority, begin to show those elected and appointed officials that they pay their salaries through their taxes, that they will no longer accept mediocrity, the cries of hardship, suffering and pain will continue to wail in a nation bordering on hatred, greed, corruption and bad governance.

ANY VOTER REWARDING a member of the lower House who has done nothing to warrant election to the upper House, deserves exactly what they are getting, a repeat of the same, shameful practices that have done little or nothing to change their way of life.

VOTE IS POWER, if used wisely, has the propensity to drastically change the outcome of life as we know it. Liberia's problem has perennial been, that many appear to lack a clear understanding of that power, simply believing the farce that they are victims of mental slavery, resigned to accepting bad as good and good as their own evil.

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