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Gov’t to save US$4.9m

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Presidential Press Secretary Sam Mannah says government would save at least US$4.9m from cuts in salaries just within the Executive Branch here.

“Well it benefits us. It’s going to save the government at least $4.9 million dollars. And this is just based on the Executive Branch, it does not include the Judiciary and the Legislature … so these initial cuts will save $4.9 million dollars,” Mr. Mannah told a press briefing at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Monday, 30 April.

Mr. Mannah says it was agreed at a cabinet meeting that no head of any public entity, State Owned Enterprises or member of Cabinet will make more than US$7,800.00, in an effort to standardize salary structures within the Executive Branch here.

The new measure, he says will affect 4,140 employees out of a little over 71,000 employees. He, however, clarifies that salaries cut will not affect a bulk of the civil servants here except a small number of them that are earning US$1,000 and above.

Mr. Mannah indicates that there are cuts of 10 percent affecting government employees within the range of US$5,001.00 to US$7,861.00. An additional salary cut of 7.5 percent affects people making up to US$5,000 while a 3.5 percent cut affects those making above US$1,000.00, according to the Press Secretary.

He says the reductions are expected to take effect at the end of May, months after President George Manneh Weah announced reduction of his own salary by 25 percent.

According to Mannah, money cut from President Weah’s salary is being donated to teachers to augment the pay of low income earners in the sector.In other developments, Mr. Manneh says at the end of 2018 or early next year, government may begin the project for the construction of four priority bridges, inclusive of two overpass bridges.

He says funding has already been secured for the two overpass bridges, one of which will be constructed at the Ministerial Complex Junction in Congo Town and the other at the SKD Boulevard Junction to reduce traffic.

He says negotiations are still ongoing to secure funding for the other two bridges which include the Bali Island bridge and a four – lane bridge to be constructed between 12th Street, Sinkor and Kesselly Boulevard, outside Monrovia.

He says Chinese are expected to come to Liberia for assessment to construct the two bridges for which funding have been secured.Mr. Mannah clarifies that Mr. Weah’s pronouncement to reroof homes at Gibraltar on Bushrod Island is the president’s personal initiative, and not a government project.

On President Weah’s recent two – day visit to Congo – Brazzaville, Mr. Mannah indicates that discussions were held between Mr. Weah and his counterpart President Denis Sassou Nguesso on the need to establish embassies on either side for their countries.

According to Mr. Mannah, President Weah feels there is a need to extend Liberia’s outreach outside of West Africa to other countries in Central Africa, noting that he proposed the establishment of a bi-national commission for export of low cost crude oil from Congo – Brazzaville to Liberia.

For his part, President Denis Sassou Nguesso welcomed the idea of the two embassies for Liberia and Congo Brazzaville, according to Mr. Mannah. He notes that Mr. Nguesso will be sending a delegation to Liberia in a matter of weeks to do feasibility studies for that country’s embassy near Monrovia.

By Winston W. Parley

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