The process of removing ghost employees from the already crowded Public Sector payroll has always been a tough nut to crack. This is more so because, a ghost, being a ghost, makes it almost impossible to be caught.
But folks from the National Payroll Clean up Taskforce which is comprised amongst others, the Civil Service Agency (CSA), Ministry of Finance and Development Planning (MFDP), Internal Audit Agency (IAA) and the National Identification Registry (NIR), are hell -bent on ensuring that salaries are paid to legitimate employees only.
The taskforce has institutionalized the national identification number as the primary and sole biometric identity of government employees, and Civil Service Agency & the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning have been granted full access to the electronic verification platform of the national ID system.
“This is a major development that will enable the CSA and the MFDP to gain direct access to the NIR database for the purpose of authenticating the identity of civil servants. Up to today, the E-verification platform has been used to verify the national ID of over more fifty thousand government employees”, James A. Thompson, Acting Director General of the Civil Service Agency (CSA) stressed at programs marking the signing of an MOU granting full access to the National ID System.
Despite its huge development needs, Liberia spent more than 60 percent of its meager budget envelope on the payment of salaries for public sector employees. This leaves successive governments with almost nothing to invest in economically viable sectors like building roads and bridges, electricity, and water supply which would attract private sector investment and create jobs.
“When the budget ensures that the roads and hospitals are built, then the citizens get the sense that their budget is working for them. They will now believe they’re benefiting. But a huge payroll will not get these things done”, TiahNagbe, Executive Director, National Identification Registry indicated.
In addition, the taskforce has automated the system for retirement and pension of over age and inactive government workers. James A. Thompson “our team is working with the National Social Security and Welfare Cooperation (NASSCORP) to ensure retirees removed from the active government payroll are immediately placed on the pension payroll of (NASSCORP). We are conducting physical verification and headcounts of employees at the various spending entities across Liberia, especially largest employment sectors such as Education, Health, and Security”.
Unlike other reform processes, the strategy initiated by the taskforce is providing a catalyst for payroll reform efforts. This is a view espoused by Del Francis Wreh, Executive Director of the Liberia Macroeconomic Policy Analysis Center LIMPAC, “this provides a catalyst to all the other payroll reform processes. All players on the field of payroll cleaning have been brought to the table”.
Mulbah Johnson, President of the Civil Servant Association expressed his delight over the progress made so far in cleaning the payroll. “The cleaning of the payroll has always been a herculean task. We are grateful now that the payroll will be cleaned. We can assure this taskforce that our Civil Servants will comply with the process because it is the only way we can be paid properly”. By Edward Blamo