Allowance hullabaloo engulfs Senate
The Liberian Senate is reportedly unease especially for Senate President Pro- Tempore ArmahJallah leadership as angry senators went wide after hearing that their allowance for the Special Sitting called by President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has been allegedly tempered with.
It all started Tuesday, 22 November when Bomi County Senator Sando Johnson, Grand Bassa County Senator NyonbleeKarnga Lawrence and Grand Gedeh’s Alphonso Gaye created an uncontrollable scene in demand of their allowance from a special committee headed by Grand Cape Mount County Senator Edward Dagoseh. The committed was constituted by Pro-Tempore Jallah to work along with the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning to ensure the money is delivered for the Special Sitting.
The protesting senators demanded that their allowances be paid in full, and that they have received credible information the ministry had disbursed the amount. Based on the tension among senators, which Pro-Tempore Jallah could not put under control, Tuesday’s executive session ended in deadlock with senators storming out of the session in anger.
However, sources from the Finance Ministry confided in this paper that the ministry authorized 50 percent payment to senators and 35 percent to central administration and personal staffers.
According to the sources, the government could not afford to pay 100 percent allowances due to serious cash constraint.
But the contention that led to the commotion was appropriation of the allowance. According to a legislative source, the money was shared based on status. The source, who confided in this paper, explained that 50 percent disbursed amounted to US$320,000.
Pro-Tempore Jallah allegedly received US$7500, while other senators heading statutory committees, including Executive, Judiciary, Rules, Order and Administration, Foreign Relations, Ways, Means and Finance respectively received a little over US$6,000. Heads of standing committee reportedly received US$4000 each and senators that are not on strategic committees received US$3,500 respectively.
Of the US$320,000, US$4210, 000 went to operations of the Liberian Senate and other administrative purposes. Also the Secretary of the Senate, Mr. NanbolorSingbe allegedly received US$1,500 and his deputy, Madam Genève VedierMassaquoi, US$1000. But senators who find themselves in lower ranking are protesting that the allowances should be shared equally rather than on the basis of positions or functions.
It has been a tradition at the Liberian Legislature that monies are shared based on status except regular salaries and monthly allowances. This paper visited the offices of Pro-Tempore Jallah several times, but his Chief of Office said Senator Jallah had not reported for work. When those accused were also contacted, they individually promised to respond to the allegation thru an official press conference and a press statement.
Meanwhile, the plenary of the Liberian Senate has constituted a three-man committee headed by Senator Morris Saytumah to investigate the matter and report to plenary in the soonest possible time.
By E. J. Nathaniel Daygbor-Editing by Jonathan Browne