The House Committee on Ways, Means and Finance, and co- opt resourced members probing staffers’ salary harmonization claims has recommended to plenary that each Representative of the House should meet with his or her staff and establish the actual take home pay per month as a way of validating report from the comptroller section.
Plenary mandated the committee on Tuesday to conduct an investigation of the House of Representatives payroll and benefits before the Government of Liberia harmonization exercise and its net effect on staffers.
The committee also recommended that payroll of the Legislature be vetted, harmonized and standardized across both the House and the Liberian Senate, including central administration.
It additionally suggests that upon passage of the budget, each employee of the Legislature should be issued a pay slip, indicating gross monthly salary, tax, and other deductions besides benefits.
According to the committee, the budget laws of FY 2019/2020 acknowledges salary harmonization and benefit cut across all branches of government at different levels with a six percent (6%) cut across government except for non-clerical health workers, teachers, security personnel, and individuals earning below US$500 per month after benefits harmonization.
The committee set up by plenary to investigate staffers salary headed by Nimba County district #1 Representative Jeremiah Koon said, based on documents and testimonies from the comptroller department, the standardization Act of 2019 calls for standardization and harmonization of remuneration across the three branches of government as a way of addressing vertical and horizontal disparities within the public service.
It said staffers of the House of Representatives earning remuneration below US$500.00 per month did not experience 6% cut, however, they are experiencing reduction in take-home-pay as a result of the exchange rate fluctuation and upward tax band adjustment due to collapsing of all benefits, including allowances and basic civil service Liberian dollar salary, and on account of fuel benefit, which not all staffers are entitled.
House Speaker Bhofal Chambers, also ruling Coalition for Democratic Change lawmaker from Maryland County faced his bitter experience in legislative work here Tuesday when aggrieved staffers demanding unpaid salaries jeered and booed him at the Capitol in total disgrace.
Some of the aggrieved staffers shouted uncontrollably, “Chambers la rogue! Chambers la rogue!” Montserrado County Representative Jimmy Smith tried intervening, but his effort was like adding gas to fire, as the protesting staffers banged on the doors of the chambers.
The grounds of the Capitol on Tuesday this week became tense after aggrieved staffers of the House of Representatives stormed the entrance of the chambers of the House, demanding that their salaries and benefits allegedly cut without justifiable cause be returned immediately.
Staffers at the Legislature, including the House and the Senate have suffered cuts in salary and benefits after a salary harmonization scheme by the government.
In July, staffers of the Liberian Senate protested for cuts totaling US$557,000 from their salaries and benefits since July, 2019.
By Bridgett Milton–Editing by Jonathan Browne