In her State of the Nation address on Monday, January 28, 2013, President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf announced a twenty-five percent increase in the salaries of Liberian civil servants, including members of the Armed forces of Liberia and other security agencies in the country.
President Sirleaf, who also noted that the increment would be retroactive beginning July 2012, ordered payment in ten days as of the day of her address to the 53rd Legislature. In compliance to the mandate, the Finance Ministry in Monrovia has already begun payment of the 25 percent salary increment for civil servants, retroactively from July 1, 2012.
In an effort to make the process easy, the Ministry urged civil servants to proceed to the commercial banks within their respective counties to receive their retroactive payments already in effect. Civil servants without accounts with local banks, according to the Ministry, were advised to liaise with their respective ministries or agencies to complete the account opening process.
No sooner had the President made the announcement when criticisms followed, especially from some members of the Liberian legislature. Though little, but appreciative the US$25.00 pay rise may be, it must also be understood that “something is always better than nothing at all”. And if patience could just be exercised, especially following the ongoing payroll audit under the auspices of the Ministry of Finance, Civil Service Agency and General Auditing Commission, there may also be “light at the end of the tunnel”.
But in the wake of the process, the President may have thought the need for a little retroactive salary increment as a way of assuring civil servants of hope in the nearest future. This is something some of the President’s critics, mostly a few Legislators may be aware of, but deliberately chose to play “politics” again.
These are the same Legislators who had ‘one-hundred percent’ opportunity to ensure increment for civil servants during the budget hearing, but chose to satisfy themselves with more money and benefits, disregarding the very people (civil servants) they claim to represent.
Even if President Sirleaf instructed them to table the issue of civil servants during the budget hearing as they claimed, it was still incumbent upon them to seek their interest at all cost by convincing the President for some increment, while whatever reason for the suspension were pursued. But they chose to go ‘gay’ for the President’s alleged instruction in favour of their personal aggrandizement.
It is disgraceful for our own political system when people who should be in the vanguard of protecting the interests of their constituents begin to criticize and shift blames on the President. All that can be said is for the Liberian Leader to ignore these ‘politricks’ and focus on the process that would eventually end up with encouraging salary increment of Liberian civil servants.