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Independent Lawmakers call for audit

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Group of lawmakers from the House of Representatives under the banner Independence Legislative Caucus wants the entire Legislature audited.

The ILC says it is befitting that the books of the Legislature be audited, including a vigorous payroll vetting and audit exercise that will set a benchmark for a transparent and accountable Legislature.

In a statement read on behalf of the group, River Gee County district#3 Representative Francis S. Dopoh, explains the exercise will give the public a clearer understanding of the actual remunerations of members of the Legislature and could help to prevent any possible waste and abuse in the National Budget.

He notes that the Executive is taking steps in these directions, so the Legislature and the Judiciary should be of no exception.

According to him, it has come to their attention that members of the House have elected to begin a very serious debate on the need for cut in salaries and benefits of legislators as a way of addressing the current economic condition of the Country.

He continues that these debates are welcoming only if they are premised on the facts and seek to address the situation from a pronounced approach as opposed to creating a pool of sentiments only to mislead the public and cloud them with half-baked propositions.

The River Gee lawmaker emphasizes that it is in the interest of the Independent Legislative Caucus and other members of the House of Representatives to ensure that Government has adequate resources to address developmental challenges of the State.

Rep. Duopo says if the argument is that Government needs to take on austerity measures to address the developmental needs of the Country, then it makes sense to reduce the Operational and Committee Hearing Budgets of the House by 75 percent to save about US$2.57million, and that the Speaker’s Budget be reduced by 40 percent, which should be standardized for each member’s budget calibration,
courtesy of Speaker Chambers’ Standardization bill in the 53rd Legislature.

“These and other measures, when taken by the National Legislature, could save about US$9.0 million for the Government as opposed to a US$1.5million saving as be tokenized by our colleagues’’ the ILC statement notes.

The ICL says while it welcomes the debate, there has been no Budget performance review to assess the actual Fiscal Stance of the Government. Besides, it notes gain from the Executive salary cut is yet to be accounted for and distinguished in terms of its impact in reducing the Government wage bill.

“It is unarguable that the budget lines other than wages and salaries that seek to impact the entire country at once are the Legislative Support Project and legislative Scholarship fund. As we speak, there is no significant discussion to increase the appropriations of the Legislative Support Project which was reduced from about US$78,000 to US$31,000 to accommodate Government budget constraints.”

A release signed by 14 members of the House of Representatives reveals the Speaker of the Honorable House of Representatives receives the budgeted amount of US$29,700 as special allowance per month, inclusive of discretionary budget of US$1.22 million, while each member of the House with no discretionary role in the Budget execution process receives as budgeted, US$7,450 or US$5,500 net of taxes per month, while the House of Representatives appropriated to itself US$1.6million for Operations and US$1.8million for Committee Hearings at the discretion of the Speaker, amounting to US $3.4 million. Statement By Bridgett Milton

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