Following President George Weah’s closed doors meeting with both leaderships of the 54th Legislature at the Capitol, the Government of Liberia announces 10 percent cut of special allowances, affecting over 4,000 officials in government.
Deputy Presidential Press Secretary Smith Toby says, the benefit and allowance cuts will specifically affect officials earning US$5,000 and above.
Briefing reporters on the grounds of the Capitol Tuesday, 07 May after President Weah’s closed doors meetings with the leaderships of the House of Representatives and the Liberian Senate, Toby details that currently, about 4,140 senior officials are being targeted, including cabinet ministers and their deputies, heads of government agencies and public corporations and their deputies.
However, he says other categories to be affected by the exercise include lower ranking officials, who earn a monthly income of US$1,000 and above.
Since the inception of the Coalition for Democratic Change-led administration a year ago, the government wage bill has increased significantly following mass employment of party stalwarts.Under the former administration of ex-president Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the total strengthen of the civil service was around 40,000 to 44,000.
But Toby puts the current figure at over 71,000.
President Weah recently communicated with the 54th Legislature, requesting for an extra month to submitting the draft national fiscal budget, to enable the Executive make adjustments that would reflect current economic realities in the country.
Toby adds that these are government’s efforts aimed at calming the economic tension associated with high cost of living being experienced by Liberians.
However, he clarifies that the benefits and allowance cuts will not affect civil servants, adding that the cut is actually intended to make the low income earners in government feel somehow equal with their respective bosses.
He discloses that in the wake of the decision to cut officials’ benefits especially, from the Executive Branch of government, a cabinet retreat is being planned at a local hotel near the Roberts International Airport in Margibi County to discuss detail of the cuts.
Earlier last week, Montserrado County District #8 Representative Acarous Moses Gray of the ruling CDC wrote the House of Representatives, proposing cuts in lawmakers’ benefits, but one of his colleagues in the House described the suggestion as “deception.”
Rep. Gray, who Co-chairs the House Committee on Executive, notes in his communication addressed to Speaker Bohfal Chambers that the reduction will greatly help to address some of the pressing economic problems in the country. By E. J. Nathaniel Daygbor–Editing by Jonathan Browne