Montserrado County Senator Abraham Darius Dillon has made public the salary and incentives he earns at the Liberian senate, breaking the tradition of secrecy on Capitol Hill which shields official information on lawmakers’ huge earnings from the public.
Mr. Dillon told a press conference Tuesday, 24 September on Capitol Hill that each senator makes a gross salary of US$15,325 plus LRD$29,700 as basic salary with US$3,175 for transportation reimbursement.Additionally, he says each senator also makes US$2,150 cash for gasoline, concluding that each of them walks away with about US$12,000 after tax deductions.
Having made the disclosure, Mr. Dillon says he will take US$5,000 as his monthly earnings, and give the balance back to the people of Montserrado County as a means of protest to pressure his colleagues to do the same as a government.The country is struggling with serious financial constraints, but lawmakers here have over the years hidden their salaries and ignored public pressure to reduce their salaries and save the state of millions of dollars annually to augment national development efforts.
Worst of it all is that civil servants are paid just a little while elected officials take home more than what they need in such a bad economy where government seeks foreign donations and grants continuously for projects.Things have been like this ever since before the regime of President George Manneh Weah, but this new administration has not found its way to get the lawmakers to reduce their earnings.
According to Mr. Dillon, on Monday, 23 September he received a handwritten copy of information relating to his pay and incentives from the chair on Ways, Means and Finance at the Liberian Senate Sen. Morris Saytumah of Bomi County.The Montserrado County Senator says there is a need for all the senators to cut down their salaries and give back to the people of Liberia to help improve their lives and the various sectors.
Dillon asserts that the money that each lawmaker is being paid is too much in this kind of economy where people are suffering.
“If each of the 103 lawmakers here can give US$10,000 back, we will generate and save US$1.3million every month and over US$20 million annually,” says Dillon.
“We can put it back into the health sector, upgrade it and make it free or very affordable for our people. We could even put some in the educational sector, upgrade the public schools and make [them] free,” he adds.
He notes that if they take US$15,000 and put it in their pockets, the people who gave them power will continue to remain beggars.
Addressing concerns about the US$40,000 car provided him by government, Mr. Dillon explains that the vehicle was paid for when the late senator that has succeeded, Madam Geraldine Doe – Sheriff was still alive.Sen. Dillon reveals that the car was bought in her name, and when he took office, her name was replaced by his name.
He indicates that the car is a government property and it is for the office of the senator.Dillon argues that if anyone wins the mid – term senatorial election next year, that person will use the car, concluding that he will not return it as demanded by some people in some quarters.According to Dillon, the car will be in use for three years, and if he wins the senatorial election in 2020, he will use it until the three years expire.
“If I return the car, I will be against the government policy and I cannot sell the car because it is not my personal property. If I do so I will be stealing,” Sen. Dillon notes.Meanwhile, Sen. Dillon says he hasn’t received any money yet for the extra sitting on Capitol Hill, noting that if there’s any money, he will receive it and make it public to his people.By Ethel A. Tweh–Edited by Winston W. Parley