The opposition Alternative National Congress, one of four collaborating parties in the country brands members of the 54th Legislature as “economic criminals” for allocating to themselves fabulous salaries, allowances and benefits, while the economy bleeds and the citizenry wallop in abject poverty.
Speaking to the NewDawn Wednesday, September 25 at the ANC headquarters in Monrovia, national secretary general, Cllr. Aloysius Toe said lawmakers are using the laws to amass wealth at the expense of the people, who elected them to power.
He said, they are using their economic might to perpetuate themselves in power, and are nothing but economic criminals.
Toe’s outburst comes barely a day after opposition Senator Darious Dillon, the newest in the Liberian Senate, disclosed his monthly salary as US$15,000 besides allowances, gasoline and transportation benefits, among other amenities.
In the Fiscal Year 2018/2019 National Budget, the Legislature appropriated for itself US$49.2 million against US$49.3 million for FY-2017/2018 with breakdown as follows: Office of the Senate Pro-Tempore, US$1.38 million; Office of the Speaker, US$1.22 million; Office of the Deputy Speaker, US$0.766 million; Senate Members (including Central Administration and Secretariats) – US$14.67 million and members of the House (including personal staffers and Central Administration and Secretariats) US$31.18 million, respectively.
The Speaker receives an allotment of US$29,700 as special allowance monthly, but is inclusive of his discretionary budget of US$1.22 million.
“Here [is] the situation where the President of the United States of America, Mr. Donald Trump gets US$400,000 per annual, divided by 12 months; he gets US$33,000 per month, with the high cost of living, the president of the world’s biggest economy earns such amount; our President Pro-Tempore of the Liberian Senate, who got elected by 5,000 people earns US$29,000 per month, he gets US$4,000 for gasoline for his home, US$3,000 for gasoline for his cars, US$900 for internet, US$6,000 for domestic allowance, among others,” he noted.
Cllr. Toe, who appeared very appalled during the interview, continued, “Our Speaker, Bhofal Chambers who presides over the House is making over US$300,000 per year, which means Chambers earns US$30,000 per month, more than US Speaker Nancy Pelosi who earns US$223,500 per year.”
According to him, a medical doctor in Liberia earns US$2,000 who spent nine months in learning his profession, while Liberian lawmakers, some of them, who he claims cannot even compose, take home US$15,000, which is unacceptable.
“What kind of country are we running? For about Pro tempore Albert Chie, Speaker Bhofal Chambers and President George Manneh Weah, let’s come [down to] ordinary lawmakers, who earn beyond the thinking of Liberians; the government spends 86 percent of revenue generation on salaries and wages, indicating only 14 percent is spent on education, health, road construction and other services,” he laments.
Toe argues that in neighboring Sierra Leone, lawmakers earn US$2,000 monthly, while their Liberian counterparts take home US$15,000. Sierra Leone national budget is about US$600 million, while Liberia’s budget is little over US$500 million, but the Sierra Leone government spends more on the population than Liberia.He adds that Liberian legislators are the third highest earners in Africa, next to Nigeria and South Africa. By E. J. Nathaniel Daygbor–Editing by Jonathan Browne