Madam President, do you still remember the unfortunate situation, regarding the issue of salary increment for civil servants, wherein you were out rightly accused by members of the Legislature of being responsible for their failure to improve such salaries during the 2012/2013 budget process on Capitol Hill? The foregoing is against the backdrop of the so-called “Political parties’ Sustenance Bill” currently on the desk of President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf for signing into law.
Despite the uncompromising and continuous public opposition, including calls for rejection, the Liberian Senate on Thursday, May 30, 2013, demonstrated the highest level of insensitivity when it concurred with the House of Representatives on the passage of the so-called Political Parties’ Sustenance Bill, which seeks to annually provide US$2m and duty free privileges to political parties obtaining the threshold of 100% in the 2011 General and Presidential Elections.
The House of Representatives, on August 21, 2012, hastily introduced and passed the controversial Bill, which in their own definition, would sustain democracy through public funding of political parties, coalitions and alliances, despite resistance and a motion for reconsideration by few representatives. But the selfish representatives who saw the Bill as another way of advancing their personal economic agenda by virtue of their respective affiliations with the would-be benefitting political parties, overwhelmingly prevailed through vote-taking.
Should President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf sign this Bill into law, it would mean that the political party reaching the highest benchmark or percentage will annually receive the amount of US$1,125,000.00, while party with the lowest would be entitled to US$360,000.00 on the basis of national budgetary support from the Government of Liberia. Such a heartless decision has been taken by individuals, who claimed to represent the people of Liberia, while thousands of Liberian civil servants continue to merely manage salary as low as US$100.00 or less.
For the Liberian Senate, it is no secret that 98.5% of the Senators, who “put their necks on the chopping board for the Bill”, are those wanting to contest for a second term. Their restless and uncompromising support for last Thursday’s concurrence was on the basis of the benefits to be accrued, which would further capacitate their renewed political ambition, despite their dismal performances in the past eight years.
While the will of a few Senators and Representatives, who truly represent the interest of their constituents, were vehemently suppressed by greed and self aggrandizement in the entire process from the House to the Senate, the hope and prayers of all well-meaning Liberians are for President Sirleaf to VETO the Bill.
It is even unfortunate that political parties expected to benefit from this decision would allow themselves to be drawn into such a ‘mess’ as if they were indigent (having no way out for survival except for the government’s intervention) – that’s a complete disgrace to their integrity (if at all they have any). For political parties to join Senators and Representatives, whose interests are cash-driven, only suggest their financial desperation in the minds of well-meaning Liberians, who may consider them unserious in any social contract, especially come the 2014 and 2017 elections.
And because such political decision was selfish and not people-oriented, despite claims by Senators and Representatives that indeed, they represent the interest of the people, we caution the President not to sign the Bill.
No matter what they think in the Liberian Legislature, that Bill must be VETOED, and that the people of Liberia will give their backing in whatever way possible to President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, should she prevent greedy and selfish politicians in the Legislature from having their will by VOTOEING the so-called “Political Parties’ Sustenance Bill”.