The plenary of the Liberian Senate on Thursday, 23 May mandated its committee on Internal Affairs to interrogate Internal Affairs Minister Varney Sirleaf over allegations that appointed local officials in Grand Bassa and Lofa Counties have not received salaries for nearly eight months.
A communication presented to the Plenary by Grand Bassa County Sen. Jonathan Kaipay indicates that the affected local government officials were appointed by President George Manneh Weah and confirmed by the Liberian Senate.
According to Sen. Kaipay, the local officials mainly of Grand Bassa and Lofa Counties complained that for nearly eight months they have not taken pay since they assumed offices.
According to Kaipay, the local officials have indicated that they have been informed by the Ministers of Internal Affairs and Finance that they were not captured in the 2018/2019 budget.
On the basis of not allegedly being captured in the budget, Sen. Kaipay says the local officials complain that they could not receive their take home pay until a new budget is passed.
“I wish to refer to the standard of equal work equal pay as [recommended] in the Constitution of the Republic. By this recognition, I express aversion to the fact that there are yet to be processed relevant system so as to receive their legitimate salaries and benefits,” Sen. Kaipay tells the Senate through a communication.
Sen. Kaipay says the Ministers of Internal Affairs and Finance need to tell the Senate what has happened to the names of the affected officials in respect to placing them on government payroll since they have received their presidential appointment letters.
He suggests that the Senate should move with some urgency to bring relief to the affected civil servants.
Following the reading of the communication by Deputy Senate Secretary Genevieve Massaquoi, Lofa County Sen. George Tengbeh told plenary that the situation is also embarrassing local officials in Lofa since they were appointed nearly a year ago.
“Like Sen. Kaipay rightly said, this issue is not only affecting Grand Bassa County, it’s also affecting Lofa county,” Sen. Tengbeh explains.
According to him, Lofa County’s Superintendent recently complained to his (Tengbeh’s) office about the same situation with names of newly appointed officials who are yet to get salaries since their appointments by President George Weah.
“The budget year has ended, so far to me it goes beyond just finding out what happened. In my mind, I believe that the pay has been running. We should know who has been taking the pay because those who were replaced are not receiving the salaries. Then what happened with the pay that has been running?” Tengbeh wonders.
Meanwhile plenary has mandated its committee on Internal Affairs to deliberate on the matter and make a report.
By Ethel A Tweh–Edited by Winston W. Parley