Montserrado County Electoral District #8 Representative Acarous Moses Gray says Montserrado County Senator Abraham Darius Dillon’s bill to the Liberian Senate, calling for reduction in senators’ salary from US$7,000 to US$5,000 is totally in error, as its lacks legal procedure on how financial related bills should be proffered in the Legislature.
Addressing a press conference in his office at the Capitol on Thursday, August 13, Rep. Gray noted that Dillon’s bill is dead upon arrival because the opposition Liberty Party Senator missed out on procedural steps.
Gray argues that the 1986 Constitution of Liberia squarely details how financial instruments are proffered on the flood of plenary, noting that for a sitting lawmaker to grossly violate the Constitution is something that warrants condemnation.
He cites Article 34 (d) (i) of the Constitution, which says: all revenue bills, whether subsidies, charges, imports, duties or taxes, and other financial bills, shall originate in the House of Representatives, but the Senate may propose or concur with amendments as on other bills.
No other financial charge shall be established, fixed, laid or levied on any individual, community or locality under any pretext whatsoever except by the expressed consent of the individual, community or locality. In all such cases, a true and correct account of funds collected shall be made to the community or locality.
According to ruling Coalition for Democratic Change lawmaker, it is an insult for the secretary of the Liberian Senate to receive financial related bill that should have originated from the House before being forwarded to the Liberian Senate for possible concurrence.
He stresses that the move by Sen. Dillon demonstrates a clear of lack of education and unwillingness to read the Constitution in order to understand his role as a lawmaker.
Senator Dillon has argued consistently that senators on Capitol Hill earn monthly salary of US$8,000 plus benefits totaling about US$5,000, bringing the total to US$13,000 each. However, a recent salary harmonization policy by the government saw the amount reduced to about US$12,000.
Speaking at a news conference in Monrovia Thursday, August 13, Senator Dillon said that the bill intended to reduced government’s huge spending on lawmakers while needs of the general public is left undone.
Dillon promised to lobby with colleagues both at the House of Representatives and the Liberian Senate for speedy support so that it may take in the pending budget year.
He said the cut if placed in a special account, could be used to improve the health and education sectors of the country.
According to him, it makes no sense for lawmakers to be personally paying students’ fees when the cut salary could improve the entire education system, where every Liberian child will have an opportunity to acquire better education.
Notwithstanding, immediately after he took office, Dillon said he would only accept US$5,000 monthly and put the balance of his salary into an account for developmental purposes in Montserrado County.
At the same time Representative also terms as “erroneous” claims by the political leader of the opposition Liberty Party, Grand Bassa County Senator Nyonblee Karnga Lawrence that President George Nanneh Weah has done very little to employ more females in his government.
He said the inference by the LP leader that President Weah, and the ruling Coalition for Democratic Change have done little to promote female candidates is nothing but far from the truth, arguing that no political party in Liberia has had more female candidates on its ticket than the CDC.
He says it is dangerous political posturing for Liberian women, who have openly refused to support women candidates during elections, to pretend to be their champions now.
“In the Senate and the House for instance, we had seven females at different intervals, the last in the Senate being your dear sister, Geraldine Doe-Sheriff, who unfortunately passed last year. Following her demise, the CDC again featured a woman candidate at the urging of the President.
But if you care so much about women leadership, their election would have been when you practice what you preach. Instead, you supported a male candidate against ALL the women in that race – despite the fact that it was a seat your sister had vacated. That’s the height of hypocrisy! It’s like speaking from both corners of your mouth – conveying contradictory messages,” he counters.
Serving currently as acting chairman on executive, he recounts other support President Weah has given to women candidates, pointing one occasion is when Senator Karnga Lawrence ran for the Senate in 2011. Weah openly declared support for her and instructed that the CDC should not feature a candidate in Grand Bassa in that election – in furtherance of his feminist agenda.
“Under his mandate, I even moved from one radio station to the next in your county, helping to sell your message. I guess the way to reciprocate that kind gesture is the best way you know how: constantly maligning him.”
The tough-talking lawmaker recalls that during the 2017 Presidential run-off, CDC authorities drove to Senator Karnga Lawrence’s home and pleaded with her and her wonderful father, Dr. Abba Karnga to support a ticket that would have produced a female Vice President, the first in Liberia’s history.
By E. J. Nathaniel Daygbor